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New York Educator of the Week: Sandra K. Intrieri, Principal Millbrook High School

What is your current job of position?

Principal of Millbrook High School, in Millbrook, New York (About 90 miles north of New York City in Dutchess County)

What is your educational background?

Describe your educational philosophy and educational vision?

My philosophy is that all children have a unique purpose and contribution to give the world. School needs to help students discover those strengths so that each students can fulfill their passion. We need to move away from “one size fits all” approach and that students need to conform to the world of school. My vision is that one day schools would be able to create an “individualized learning plan” for every child that identifies their strengths, goals and needs to be successful. Furthermore, this would lead to “differentiated diplomas” so that each student would leave high school with a specific set of skills to help them achieve their career goals.

How do you grow and engage your professional learning network?

I enjoy staying current with articles from the New York Times, The Atlantic and ASCD. I have found that using Twitter is a great  way to connect with my faculty. When I read information that can be helpful to my teachers, I send it to them via Twitter. It’s been a very positive and fun way to build community within the school. Twitter also makes it easier to stay connected with former colleagues who share the same philosophy and helps us to continue working toward common goals. Educational “chats” have been opportune ways to connect with new colleagues along with meeting other educators at conferences.

What is the greatest benefit of your professional network?

The greatest benefit of a PLN is the ability to stay current with the field of education and connect with people who are “like-minded.” The educational community on Twitter is very helpful. For instance, when I needed a Physics teacher, educators were very supportive and tweeted out the ad throughout the country and world to get the word out.

If you blog, what is the focus of it? How long have you been writing? Who is your audience?

I have yet to start a blog. I have written a few entries but have not finalized my audience or goals.

How do you use social media to connect with other educators? What is your advice to teachers on social media and education?

Besides Twitter, I run my high school Facebook page. I chronicle all of the great things that are happening at my high school from sports, to clubs and special events. The community appreciates the news and information and it has been another way to keep alumni and parents connected to our school. Check it out!

What advice in general do you have to teachers today?

The teaching profession has changed dramatically since I began teaching in 1989. However, the one thing that has not changed is that students still want and need  positive relationships and connections with their teachers! Also, it’s important to always stay current, to grow and to learn as you want your students to. Keep an “open mind-set” and stay away from negative people who can be jaded and stuck in their own misery.

Describe a teacher who has had a significant impact on your professional development?

Without hesitation, Fran Todd was an integral part of my growth as an educator. As a veteran English teacher, she had a solution for every problem and was an innovator who encouraged my professional development. She introduced the concept of the “Copernican Plan” and block scheduling to our school when the concept was not widely known. As a young teacher, this cemented in my mind that high schools can reform and change for the better depending on the needs of the student and the community. She made it clear,through her own modeling, that educators do not have to be stuck with the status quo.

What book would you recommend to teachers?

An “oldie but goodie” is William Glasser’s Quality School.

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His theory is that everyone in the school community, administrators, teachers etc should move away from coercion and control theory towards healthier behaviors that build trust and joy in the classroom. Another great book for administrators is, If You Don’t Feed The Teachers They Will Eat The Students.
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It’s a very practical, short read with inspirational guidance for new administrators.