Taking Care of Students by Taking Care of Teachers

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By Ashley Welch

If you had asked Philip Weinberg as a child what he wanted to be when he grew up, he most likely would not have said a school principal.

“As a kid, I wanted to be quarterback for the Giants, he said with a laugh.

Yet, as he grew older, Weinberg discovered he was better suited for the classroom than the football field.

“When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to have very fine teachers, he said, “and I was able to do some work in our local junior high school. Teaching was always something I had considered. It seemed like a very natural place for me to go.

Weinberg, who joined the New York City public school system in the 1980s, was an English teacher and assistant principal at the High School of Telecommunication Arts and

Philip Weinberg, principal of the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology, says the best advice he got was from his predecessor, who said, “Everyone"s going to tell you your job is about the kids, and that"s not necessarily so. Your job is about the staff.

Technology in Brooklyn before becoming its principal in the middle of the 2000-2001 school year.

Though Weinberg, 51, said he enjoyed teaching, being a principal offers a unique opportunity to impact the lives of students in a bigger way.

“In some ways, I have the least specific job description of anybody in the building, he said. “I get to wander into different rooms and activities and just see what"s happening.

A major part of Weinberg"s job is to make sure that teachers are effectively communicating material to their pupils.

“There"s nothing more satisfying than sitting in on a lesson and seeing a child"s eyes light up when he understands something a teacher just explained, he said.

Weinberg said the best piece of advice he ever received about being a principal came from his predecessor.

“He would say, ‘Everyone"s going to tell you your job is about the kids, and that"s not necessarily so. Your job is about the staff. They have to be able to take care of the students and you have to be able to take care of them."

Though Weinberg said he enjoys the time he spends with the students, direct involvement with them is not his main priority.

“The hard work with the kids, the teaching, is being done by people other than myself, he said. “My job is to help set the direction for how that happens.

Weinberg emphasized, however, that his door is always open to students, teachers and staff to discuss any problems or concerns that may arise.

Over the last 10 years, Weinberg has seen many successes at the school, including a “College Readiness grade on the most recent Department of Education high school progress report that was double the New York City high school average.

Weinberg"s favorite day of the year is at the end of November, “Professional Day, when the seniors hand in their college applications to the guidance office. Dressed in suits and professional attire, the students line up in the main hallway and receive “I applied to… stickers to wear all day.

“It"s really turned into a schoolwide celebration of what is the culminating activity of their time with us, he said.

However, Weinberg said he is always trying to find ways to improve the overall quality of the school.

“I spend time every day talking with my staff about ways to make the school better, he said. “What are we doing that we could do better? What are we not doing that we should do in order for the students to have a better experience? Those are conversations that if we don"t engage in, I think we"ve failed.

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