Today’s news:

P.S. 71 new principal starts the year

For the first time in a decade, P.S. 71 has a new principal.

Taking over the reins of the school is Phyllis Calzolaio, a life-long Country Club resident who has been an assistant principal there for the past 12 years. She succeeds Lance Cooper, a veteran administrator who ran the school for a decade.

Calzolaio welcomed back teachers at P.S. 71 on Tuesday, September 6, and said that she was going to be supportive of teacher efforts and also make sure that the new motto of the school, which is now on posters at the main entrance and school stationary is adhered to: Respect, Perseverance, Excellence.

“I love our community and am very proud of our school,” Calzolaio said. “I take stock in the fact that I want our school to be one of the best K through 8 schools in the city. We will all work together as the administration, faculty, parents and students to move the school forward.”

The school will foster an environment for the students that has teachers taking an even more collaborative approach to monitoring student progress with time set aside in teacher’s schedules for group work, Calzolaio said.

“Teachers will be working in teams and looking at student work together,” Calzolaio said. “We have been doing that, but it is now throughout the entire building.”

She set forth three main goals for the students and the school community during her initial meeting with teachers in the auditorium on September 6: that all students make progress, that there be a sufficient level of academic rigor to help students develop critical thinking skills, and that professional development for teachers be driven by what they need to help students.

Teachers should also feel empowered to be part of the decision making process, and at the same time need to understand that they will be held accountable, the principal said.

No stranger to community institutions of learning, Calzolaio attended Our Lady of Assumption School and St. Catharine Academy, as well as Fordham University and the College of New Rochelle as she progressed with her education.

She raised three children with her husband Leo in Country Club, and hopefully her children, Michael, James, and Kristina, will continue to raise their grandchildren in the community, she stated.

After taking some time off to raise her own family, she went back to teaching at P.S. 182 in 1992 and was there for six years before obtaining her supervisors license and landing the job at P.S. 71 in 1998.

“I’ve learned to be patient, open-minded, a good listener, highly organized, and supportive to all of our constituents: our parents and students,” Calzolaio stated. “My philosophy to education is similar to that of the medical field, because we have to continue to learn new methods and styles of teaching to improve student progress.”

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