By Naeisha Rose
The Hammond Public School in Jamaica has selected Grisel Rodriguez for Principal of the Month, an honor bestowed every October for unsung school leaders who go above and beyond to support students and teachers.
“This is her third year at the school,” said Jasmin Anderton, a special education teacher at PS 82. “Every year, the grades have been up at the school and [the students] have started meeting the standards for ELA and Math.”
According to Anderton, students were at 14 percent in meeting education standards in subjects at the school — located at 88-02 144th St. — and are now at 44 percent and still rising.
“She started implementing the curriculum and making sure the teachers are where they should be to help the kids to grow,” said Anderton. “She got a grant for a brand new STEM lab with robots, and brand new iPads… iMacs for the whole school and we have a new BOKS program, which is an athletics program for the school.”
Students are required to attend the STEM lab twice a week as part of the school’s curriculum and they learn how to produce items on a 3D printer by coding, according to Anderton.
Since her tenure began in 2015, Rodriguez has encouraged teachers to get students to try out for the math bee, the spelling bee, literacy night, math night, a test prep rally and an Olympic health fair, according to Anderton.
“There is a dance program, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and every time there is something new, she does a big celebration and finds a way to incorporate the school,” said Anderton.
Rodriguez also made sure there was a website that contains a slideshow of the school’s highlights so that kids can be proud of their work and parents can stay up-to-date on what their children are doing, according to Anderton.
One of the highlights at the school is the end of year dance recital, according to Anderton. Last year the students learned musical theater and performed “The Lion King.”
Jason Wagner, a parent from Jamaica with twin girls, is proud to see the direction the school is heading and says his fourth-graders really look forward to going to school each day.
“She has a very hands-on approach with dealing with the kids,” Wagner said of Rodriguez. “She started a lot of programs — not only athletically, but academically — that will get them prepared for state exams and regular testing.”
Many of the current programs at PS 82 were either not fostered or at the institution when his daughters started at the school, according to Wagner.
“To introduced them to all these different programs and help them find something they enjoy and to give them a platform to use I think is really good,” said Wagner. “The times that I met with her, she was really nice and informative and she is very involved.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose