Franca Conti has been principal of PS 217, one of the city’s largest and most diverse Title I elementary
schools, since 2004. As an immigrant, Franca is sensitive to a school population challenged
by income, language and cultural barriers and she reminds her staff often that loving the
children is a prerequisite to teaching in her school. Her expertise in staff development and curriculum
mapping has enabled her to create a rigorous environment. Despite the school’s size and
diversity, this approach has yielded robust year over year improvement in math, ELA and science
scores. As a result in 2009, the school emerged from corrective action as a school in good standing.
Today P.S. 217 is a model school for the arts with a thriving Magnet program in theater,
music, writing and art. It is a lab site for ESL and one of the top 100 in the city. Academic rigor,
arts enrichment, and a nurturing environment are the keys to 217’s success.