Tuesday, November 8, 2011

48 Years at Helm, Doing What’s Always Worked

Another great profile of another great educator, not afraid to make a stand of what's right, honor good work, and have big expectations for her students, who appear to continue to rise to the benchmark she has set.

Congratulations to Madeleine P. Brennan!

48 years as the principal of Dyker Heights Intermediate School in Brooklyn, Madeleine P. Brennan represents a lost art of administrative beauty.

Mrs. Brennan believes that what works remains the same. Consistent rules and consequences. A dedicated, hard-working staff. A calendar stuffed with activities like a Shakespeare fair and an annual musical. Sincere care for your charges.      

“Teenagers fascinate me,” Mrs. Brennan said in an interview in her pin-straight office. “They are peculiar ducks, neither fish nor fowl. And you have to love them to really work with them. If you don’t love them, you are up a tree.”

"Today,Dyker Heights has about 1,500 students, 68 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. It has earned A’s on the city’s progress reports each of the last three years and sends many of its students to top city high schools."

She has trained dozens of teachers to be administrators over the years. “It’s black or white, no shade of gray, in terms of what she expects from her children.”

Her reputation is famously strict: former students recalled standing at attention as she walked by. In 2007, Mrs. Brennan backed school security when a 13-year-old student was handcuffed and arrested for writing on her desk. “She ruined the desk,” she recalled. “If you break a law, there is a consequence for it.”      

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