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The Cahn Fellows Program

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Randy Asher
In difficult economic and political times, Brooklyn Technical High School Principal Randy Asher wondered, how could he and his staff build and sustain strategic partnerships that would provide ongoing resources for America’s favorite high school?  That question became the 2010 Cahn Challenge project of this veteran school leader and builder. “As an educator and architect, I knew that I had to design a benchmark model as well as the infrastructure for negotiating and evaluating our strategic partnerships,” Asher said.
After four years as principal of the High School of Math, Science & Engineering at the City University of New York, Randy took the helm of Brooklyn Tech in 2006.  He then began to envision new partnerships and resources that would transform the 90-year old high school’s antiquated classrooms into state-of-the-art laboratories and digital spaces.  Principal Asher needed individual and corporate sponsors to build a computer-integrated manufacturing shop, a robotic prototyping center, a moot court room and an advanced DNA/Genetics Lab.  Randy’s proposed fiscal campaign to raise $21-million for school renovations and services would consume his time and his cabinet’s energy for the next two years.
Along with his Assistant Principal and 2010 Cahn Ally Crystal Bonds, their school challenge project began with the daunting tasks of defining standards and expectations to evaluate the effectiveness of Brooklyn Tech’s existing partnerships and resource needs. Bonds said, “First we developed an evaluation criteria to assess our existing partnerships and then identified areas in need with a strategic action plan and timeline for implementation.” 
Since 2008, Asher has served as the Vice President of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Math, Science and Technology.  Part of his field research for his Cahn Fellowship year included inter-visitations with consortium schools in Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
“Inspired by the leadership strategies and conversations with Cahn faculty advisors during the Summer Leadership Institute, I decided to create a focus group with our consortium schools to share best practices,” Randy added.  “We also wanted to establish a national endeavor to influence educational policy relating to public-private partnerships, so I visited Boston Latin to discuss the only more well-established public Alumni foundation than Tech’s.”
Through its Alumni 21/21 fiscal campaign, Brooklyn Tech has since acquired funding to create unique instructional labs, as well as fiscal support and academic advising from numerous corporations, universities and community based organizations.
Principal Asher said, “Using Alumni and corporate funding to provide transformational learning experiences for students, promote strategic professional development for the faculty, enhance curriculum, and renovate facilities has created a truly unique setting to usher the next generation of innovators into higher academia and the workforce.”
Brooklyn Technical High School is the largest public school in the United States with over 5,000 students, 200 teachers and 50,000 active Alumni.  This legendary 594,000 square-foot building covers several city blocks, 10 floors, and features an original 3,000 seat auditorium, swimming pool, foundry, bowling alley and rifle range. In order to generate financial and physical contributions that could be leveraged for matching funds from elected officials and alumni donors, BTHS Principal and 2010 Cahn Fellow Randy Asher had to significantly increase funding opportunities that would improve student and faculty services.
Crystal Bonds

Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services
“While we were building strategic partnerships at Brooklyn Tech during our Cahn Fellowship year, Randy Asher was simultaneously cross-training me to become a principal,” said 2010 Cahn Ally Crystal Bonds, who now heads The High School for Math, Science & Engineering at the City University of New York. “My first role at Tech was Assistant Principal of Organization, managing the school budget and operations. I later transitioned to Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services where I supervised guidance, college services, special education, service providers and all student support services.”
Cahn Allies work closely with their mentor principals to complete their school Challenge Project and present their yearlong research at the June Leadership Conference. Bonds added, “This training under Randy’s aegis helped me tremendously as a new Principal. Additionally, I have applied the work from the Cahn Project to codify the partnership process at HSMSE.” Since 2011, Bonds has also served as Vice President of the National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools of Math, Science & Technology.
Asher said, “The Cahn Fellows Program’s focus on mentoring and coaching helped me to prime not only my own development and leadership skills, it gave me the impetus to train my Cahn Ally and another Assistant Principal for their new roles as principals and advocates for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education.”

“In my new role as school leader at HSMSE, I vowed to improve strategic partnerships, communication and transparency with all constituents -- teachers, alumni, parents and students alike - just like my Cahn Fellow and I did at Brooklyn Tech,” said Bonds.

On Leadership

'Good leaders are passionate about their work. Through their styles differ, there are many common elements - strong beliefs, integrity, good people skills, thirst for knowledge, and willingness to learn. High energy helps too!' --Cahn Fellow Principal

'Leadership is not so much about the duties you perform as it is about the people you serve.' --Cahn Fellow Principal