2001-02-03 / Letters

Words From Abroad

Dear Editor;

I am a French student working on my masters in science of education in Bordeaux, France. I came to New York City to observe the American educational system and compare different schools. I started in Beach Channel High School, and it was my very best experience. I felt so comfortable in this school because the message from the principal and the assistant principals is clear. I can use two keywords, discipline and collaboration.

Discipline in each classroom is firmly done by teachers, and Monereau puts all his energy to keep a peaceful setting in this school.

Collaboration with Mr. Gassaway, Mr. Monereau and all the staff is efficient. I was impressed to see the fantastic organization, in the halls when we meet a student we can always know what he is doing there, and what room he belongs to. It is the only school where I have seen such a strict discipline. I had the opportunity to assist different meetings. I could see how seriously they take their jobs. The doors were open, I was free to go everywhere, no restrictions, I could observe classes, interview teachers, and take pictures. This was not the case in other schools where I went. Here, there was nothing to hide.

The environment was safe. The school is so beautiful, with the bay all around and the walls decorated by students and teachers exactly like in a private school. It’s just great to walk in the school and to see all these colors. I felt the enthusiastic atmosphere that Mr. Gassaway wants to create there.

I observed many classes and the classroom management is very efficient. I have to say that I explained to the other teachers I met in the other schools how organized the classes at Beach Channel were. Some of them took the idea and later told me it works. They tried to follow the example of Beach Channel especially by writing the Aim (what the goal of the lesson is), Do now (what must be done before the lesson starts) and the homework on the board. This was not done before in other schools.

Yes this is a public school, and Mr. Gassaway and Mr. Monereau can be proud of what they are doing. Who says there is no great public high school in New York?

I have to add that some people in France and elsewhere think students in American public high school are wild and disrespectful, but this is not the case at Beach Channel High School. They are spontaneous, they always said hello, I never felt insecure among them, and they never pushed me in halls. I didn’t have to be afraid of them. In some schools teachers are frightened, but here I could observe a special relationship between the students and teachers.

I am very happy to have had the opportunity to observe Beach Channel High School. When people live in other countries they usually hear more negative things about US public schools than positive ones. I now know that it is not always so, and the positiveness of Beach Channel High School will remain in my heart and wherever I go. I will always talk about it. I have come to the conclusion that it really takes great leaders who are compassionate and dedicated to make a school what it should be. Students are watching and they know when the principal cares. I am happy to say that Mr. Gassaway is a very concerned principal. As a result, the school is well organized, students learn better, and teachers are more motivated to teach. At Beach Channel I have seen everything that is positive in the public school system.

MYRIAM PICHON


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