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THIS YEAR, Townsend Harris High School will be welcoming its new interim acting principal, Rosemarie Jahoda, following the departure of former Principal Anthony Barbetta.
She comes to the school from The Bronx High School of Science, where she was the Assistant Principal of Mathematics.
Ms. Jahoda found the Townsend Harris atmosphere “warm and welcoming,” adding that she already feels at home. “I’m proud and honored to be part of this caring and thoughtful learning community. I’m looking forward to…building on the many strengths of THHS in collaboration with all members of the school community,” she said.
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 Townsend Harris, she 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.”
Ms. Jahoda has already met with many of the school’s clubs to gain a better understanding of what students need. She described, “Students have shared with me their frustration with the course selection process. For example, many seniors who selected AP Psychology as their first choice were not programmed for the course. I believe that programming should be primarily driven by student course requests. The course selection process and programming is an area of focus this year.”
When asked if she had been met with any other challenges, Ms. Jahoda responded, “A school budget that has prompted the loss of numerous positions in recent years is our greatest challenge. Advocating for additional resources and strategically managing our budget so that we can best serve THHS students is a priority.”
Veronica York, Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services, commented on her impression of Ms. Jahoda. She stated, “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.”
Also remarking on his impressions, Assistant principal Rafal O l e c h ow s k i said, “One thing that really strikes me is that she comes across like someone who likes to get things done. She’s focused on understanding the situation and seeing how it can be improved. She’s very perceptive and sees even small issues and aims to address them. She also comes across as someone who’s intensely interested in our school and what it offers. She constantly asks why things are the way they are… there are reasons why we are the way we are [and] she asks about things that we take for granted. People who wouldn’t care wouldn’t ask.”
Ms. Jahoda will be the fifth principal of the refounded Townsend Harris school, following the tenures of Malcolm L a r g m a n n , 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 over thirty year 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.”