2005-01-14 / Community

New MS 180 Principal ‘Excited About Challenge’

By Howard Schwach

File photo of students in front of MS 180File photo of students in front of MS 180 When newly-appointed Middle School 180 principal Joseph Costa entered the building for his first full day on the job last Tuesday, he found some instant challenges.

The high-impact English Language Arts (ELA) test, a test that dictates whether students will be promoted or not, was to be given to all of the school’s eighth graders that day, not normally a problem. The Green Bus strike, which impacted a large percentage of the school’s students, however, changed the picture, forcing a rescheduling of the test to later in the day and lots of planning to provide make-up tests for those who could not get to school.

Costa, however, told The Wave that he is well-equipped by experience and temperament to meet the challenges of what is arguably Rockaway’s premier middle school.

Costa took over the school when former principal John Comer was reassigned as an assistant principal to PS 197 in Far Rockaway amid charges that he manhandled a teacher at the Rockaway Beach school.

According to Ben Waxman, the schools Local Instructional Supervisor in a statement to The Wave, stated that Comer “made the decision to leave MS 180 to take an assistant principal position at PS 197.”

Costa first became a middle school supervisor when he was appointed an assistant principal at Junior High School 210 in 1988, under principal Matthew Bromme, who later became district superintendent. From 1999 to 2000, Costa was the acting principal at the school when Bromme moved on to the district office.

He was passed over for the principal’s job however, and was reassigned as an assistant principal at PS 197, where he remained until last week, except for a short stint as acting principal of PS 183 when its principal, Wellington Sawyer, became ill during the school year. As for his new assignment, Costa says, “It seems as if I’ve been doing this for a lifetime and I welcome the challenge. I am already very comfortable here, having met with teachers, deans and parents. I’m eager for their feedback and I’m raring to go with some new plans to move the school forward.”

Costa was asked to address the earlier statements of Region Five Superintendent Kathleen Cashin that the school would become a gifted school in September of 2005 with PS 114 principal Brian O’Connell taking over the school’s reins.

“All I can say is that I was asked by the region to be here and to make this the best school possible, and that is what I am going to do,” he said.

Costa, who was a Science teacher in his classroom days, says that technology and discipline are going to be two of his major priorities.

“I want to see technology in every classroom, not just in computer laboratories,” he said. “I want to see the fantastic television equipment we have in this school utilized as well as it is in Middle School 202.”

As for discipline, Costa says that MS 180 “is not very different from the other middle schools” he has supervised.

“This is potentially a very good school,” he added. “I’m optimistic that I can make a positive change. I’m looking forward to the rest of the school year.”

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