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THE ALLIES CORNER

Adam Boxer
 
THOMAS EDISON HIGH SCHOOL 2011 CAHN ALLY ADAM BOXER

MOVING FROM GOOD MEETINGS TO GREAT COLLABORATIONS

Assistant Principal Adam Boxer is responsible for Administration, Instruction and Support Services at Thomas Edison Career & Technical Education High School in Queens. This Cahn Ally, together with his 2011 Cahn Fellow and Principal Anthony Barbetta, researched, designed and implemented a cultural change for adult learning at Edison with the genesis and design of effective Professional Learning Communities (PLC) titled “Moving from Good Meetings to Great Collaborations.” This multi-year school plan successfully achieved the goals of their 2011 Cahn Challenge Project.

Adam began his career as a Health & Physical Education teacher at an intermediate School in Brooklyn and spent several years at Sheepshead Bay High School, working there as a teacher, dean and soccer and tennis coach.  As Coordinator of High School Sports & Athletic Events at the Public Schools Athletic League (P.S.A.L.), he co-led an athletic cultural exchange pilgrimage to Russia. Boxer was also a member of the 2010 Advanced Leadership Program for Assistant Principals (ALPAP).

After completing Year I of Thomas Edison’s multi-year Cahn Challenge Project,  how do you feel about the initial stages of this process?

A. We went through many obstacles in the implementation of our ideas to practice, common planning time, union issues and most importantly, changing our mindset into one of sharing and collaboration.  Our challenge project was two-fold: 1) to provide an avenue for teachers to share personal best practices as well as proven, successful methods and styles; and 2) to break down the barriers of a school culture with 99% tenured teachers.  Efficient collaboration will give Edison’s teachers the avenue to present to each other, while comparing and contrasting their craft with student outcomes being the ultimate goal. We no longer hold traditional monthly faculty conferences, instead we have faculty seminars.  This new structure allows administrators to conduct teacher seminars across all departments, which had been rare.

Q. What evidence of change did you see in Year II?

A. The second year of our plan started slowly because my Cahn Fellow and Principal Anthony Barbetta moved his leadership to Townsend Harris High School. I then needed to familiarize our new Principal with plans laid out for this protocol. Together we initiated the continuation of the collaborative seminars as well as the teacher teams within different departments.  I also continued with the Staff Advisory Professional Learning Committee begun last year by Principal Barbetta.

Q. What other changes are you planning to make as part of your Cahn Challenge?

 A. The biggest adjustment I will make is to conduct a staff survey so that I can receive corrective feedback as to the direction and focus of our professional learning communities.

 Q. What are your goals going forward for this school year?

A. I would like to see the Professional Learning Communities evolve to more of a teacher- led collaboration. I would like to personally visit every teacher’s class at least once and continue with observing instruction throughout all the departments.  It will give me the focus to address instruction directly with them, and then have instruction act as an underlying thread for future professional learning communities.

Q. What do you foresee as Year II obstacles?

A. The primary obstacle is that Edison has many teachers, including the entire C.T.E. department, who teach a sixth-period class which creates a scheduling conflict for common meeting time, especially when the other departments are included.
 
Anthony Barbetta

                   FROM THOMAS EDISON HIGH SCHOOL TO TOWNSEND HARRIS
2011 Cahn Fellow Anthony Barbetta’s Leadership Journey
 
Last summer when 2011 Cahn Fellow and Thomas Edison High School Principal Anthony Barbetta decided to move his leadership to Townsend Harris High School in Queens, he had mixed emotions about leaving at the end of his Cahn Fellowship year.
 
Yet Barbetta was certain that he was leaving the school in a better place than when he arrived, and felt particularly confident that his Cahn Challenge Project - building professional learning communities at Edison - would thrive under the leadership of his 2011 Cahn Ally and Assistant Principal Adam Boxer and new Edison principal Moses Ojeda.
 
“The Cahn Project began to move Edison from a traditional high school model, having teachers meet for limited professional development and administrative items, to a school where collaboration and teacher teams were becoming part of the school culture,” he said.
 
Principal Barbetta knew it would take time for Edison’s teachers to believe in the relevancy of Professional Learning Communities and the impact PLCs would have on their teaching and on their students. As his Cahn Ally, Boxer was a true partner in helping to develop their Cahn challenge project, “Moving from Good Meetings to Great Collaborations.” Anthony added, “During our collaboration, Adam became well versed about PLCs, gained significant knowledge and had an array of ideas that would yield positive results.”
 
Barbetta and Boxer’s dedication and belief in PLCs produced a cultural change that has made a great impact among teachers and students at Edison. “Now at Townsend Harris High School, I will carry on the Cahn Project in developing PLCs and teacher teams here. The school is one of the highest ranked schools in America. The students are tremendously motivated and the level of achievement is extraordinarily high,” he said.
The new principal of Townsend Harris is thankful that his Cahn Challenge Project will continue to enhance Edison’s teachers while also helping to improve his new school cabinet. “Although teachers and administrators at Harris also have extremely busy workloads,” Barbetta concluded, “It is my responsibility to ensure that sufficient time is allotted for teachers to work collaboratively to develop PLCs here at Townsend like we did at Edison.”

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