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By Mehrose Ahmad, additional reporting by Ilyssa Delos Reyes and Arifa Baksh
Assistant Principal of Math, Science, and Technology Susan Brustein will be applying for the principal vacancy position at Townsend Harris High School.
Ms. Brustein began working at THHS in 2000. She was a former program chairperson, a science teacher, and a grade advisor at Stuyvesant High School. She is the second assistant principal from THHS to reveal that she is applying for the position, in addition to Assistant Principal Ellen Fee.
Regarding her decision to apply, Ms. Brustein explained that though she had other opportunities at other high schools (such as the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College) to become principal, “ [she] didn’t want to leave [THHS] because [she] loved being at THHS.” Ms. Brustein added, “Had I known that Mr. Barbetta was leaving, I would have applied [as principal then]…but Ms. Jahoda was put in place. I was initially excited to have a female [principal] who was interested in [the] math and sciences…[but] it quickly went south.” Ms. Brustein said the resuming of the C-30 process prompted her decision to then apply for principal since she felt that she could contribute to the school.
Ms. Brustein cited her professional and personal experience as a qualification that would enable her to be a competent principal. She said, “I have a long experience working with children that are curious, excited, [and] interested… [and] as a parent, I have insight into the process of growing up.” Ms. Brustein also explained how her leadership in the math and science departments led to more courses being available to students, causing THHS to become an Intel School of Distinction. Ms. Brustein felt, “I have the temperament to be a leader; I am even tempered; I don’t get frazzled; I have vision.” For the future, Ms. Brustein said that if chosen as principal, her first goal is to “heal the school [and] have open discussion with students and faculty.”
Ms. Fee commented, “Ms. Brustein is a seasoned administrator who is passionate for science and math as well as THHS. She cares deeply for students and our school’s reputation for excellence. She is capable of leading our school into the next chapter of our school’s history.”
Science teacher Joel Heitman also shared his opinion on Ms. Brustein and said, “I think she is very familiar with the culture of the school [and] offers a unique vision. Although she is [primarily] a science and math educator….she understands the importance of having the humanities in our everyday studies.”
Many students had comments on Ms. Brustein’s qualities that could prove her to be a competent principal.
Senior Fatema Haidery, who is part of the robotics team, stated, “She’s very responsible. She always cares about the students and she always gives time to us for whatever problems we have.”
Junior Bea Tolentino, who has Ms. Brustein as a teacher for organic chemistry, commented, “Ms. Brustein has proven to be patient and considerate of students and their ideas and [she] actively encourages us to discuss our ideas, rather than stifling them. I feel like those are some of the most important qualities a principal should possess, and if [Ms. Brustein] became principal, the school would be in able hands.”
Applicants for the job have until February 15 to apply. Those who were part of the original applicant pool, including Ms. Jahoda, are automatically added to this pool.
Ms. Jahoda was unavailable for comment.