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New Schools Chancellor's Message to DOE Staffers: 'Bring Joy Back'

By Amy Zimmer on January 6, 2014 9:50pm 

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 New Schools Chancellor’s Message to DOE Staffers: Bring the Joy Back
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña
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CIVIC CENTER —  The new schools chancellor promised Monday that under her leadership, the Department of Education would focus on communication and collaboration.

“We need to bring joy back,” Chancellor Carmen Fariña said during a short statement to a few hundred staffers at the DOE's headquarters. The goal, she stressed, was to have "smiles on our faces" when talking about education.

Under the Bloomberg administration, many parents criticized the DOE for its lack of transparency and many educators complained about a lack of respect.

Her third day on the job, Fariña began to establish a new tone at Tweed. She told the DOE staffers that she planned to communicate not only what her office was doing, but why they were doing it, and she asked them to do the same.

“Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ especially to principals,” said the new chancellor, noting that she plans to “celebrate” principals’ accomplishments in a special section in the DOE’s newsletter.

Starting on Friday, she plans to open her doors to the staff at 8 a.m. for the first of her bi-weekly meetings, she said, asking them to share what needs fixing, but also what they’re proud of.

She’ll pay for the coffee, rather than expense it, she said.

“This is the best-working urban public education system in this country,” Fariña said.

Fariña was a teacher at Cobble Hill’s P.S. 29 and then a principal, spending a decade at the helm of the esteemed P.S. 6 on the Upper East Side, before becoming the superintendent of District 15, which covers Park Slope, and then becoming a deputy chancellor until she retired in 2006.

Michele Farinet, the parent coordinator at Greenwich Village's P.S. 41, was hopeful that the new chancellor would focus more on the positive things happening in the schools.

“The last few years we felt a little too focused on failing schools,” Farinet said, “when in reality the work we’re seeing with ourselves and other schools was impressive and the effort was being made.”

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