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By Sumaita Hasan and Ilyssa Delos Reyes
This year, Townsend Harris High School will be welcoming its new interim acting principal, Rosemarie Jahoda, following the departure of former Principal Anthony Barbetta.
In a letter to the school community, Mr. Barbetta announced his decision, thanking students, staff, and parents for making his job “fun, challenging, and exciting.” He cited the school’s ratings at the city, state, and national level as hallmarks of his four year tenure, while also referencing achievements like the addition of new Advanced Placement courses. He will now move on and become the new principal of Robert F. Kennedy Community High School.
Ms. Jahoda now moves up to the position of Townsend Harris Interim Acting Principal. She comes to the school from The Bronx High School of Science, where she was the Assistant Principal of Mathematics.
On her time at Bronx Science, Ms. Jahoda commented, “My nine years of experience as an instructional leader of an academic department consisting of 26 teachers and as an active member of a school cabinet provided me the opportunity to positively impact on the learning experience of approximately 3,000 students.”
She cited her work in developing a sequence of computer science courses at Bronx Science as a key component of her record.
As for THHS, Ms. Jahoda is similarly interested in developing course sequences for students. As principal, she plans to learn “about the types of courses that excite and interest THHS students in an effort to provide them with course options that would most benefit them.”
In addition, she plans to spend her first year conducting “a listening tour to gather information from students, staff and parents.” She explained: “I’m looking forward to gaining an understanding of how to build on the many strengths of Townsend Harris High School in collaboration with all members of the school community.”
Ms. Jahoda has already been in contact with the Assistant Principals in order to ensure a smooth transition. Veronica York, Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services, began meeting with the new principal last week. Though sad to see Mr. Barbetta, whom she refers to as a “colleague and a friend,” leave the school, Ms. York was immediately impressed by Ms. Jahoda.
“I’ve had quite a few conversations with Principal Jahoda and I’m really looking forward to what she brings to the table,” Ms. York commented. “Her passion for education is evident. I found her to be someone who asks good questions and really wants to understand the school. I think she will promote a culture of collaboration with all stakeholders and be extremely engaged in the school community. I appreciate how her focus is on what’s best for Townsend Harris students.”
Ms. Jahoda will be the fifth principal of the refounded Townsend Harris school, following the tenures of Malcolm Largmann, Thomas Cunningham, Kenneth Bonamo, and Anthony Barbetta. Though the school is known for its female-dominated student body, Ms. Jahoda will be the first female principal of THHS in its more than thirty years of history.
A native New Yorker and one of five children, Ms. Jahoda shared some details about her background: “My parents immigrated to the United States in pursuit of the American dream. My dad worked as an industrial painter for the Port Authority. My mom was the primary caregiver and worked part-time in a bakery. My parents taught me that success can be achieved through hard work and perseverance. I’m extremely grateful to them.”
Though Ms. Jahoda is proud of her time spent encouraging students at Bronx Science to pursue their interest in STEM-related subjects, she seemed equally proud of encouraging other young people that are important to her to follow their interests in the Humanities fields that THHS is known for.
“My husband and I nurtured our three daughters’ love of literature, music and art,” she said. “I’m proud that all three majored in English and pursued their interests. The oldest is an English teacher. The middle child is in the music business and the youngest works in television and film. I have two amazing granddaughters. They are my pride and joy.”
With the new school year officially beginning for administrators on August 29, Ms. Jahoda is eager to join the school. She said: “Making positive connections with people is very important to me. I’m excited to join the THHS community.”