Ms. Levi takes on job of assistant dean
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By Tamanna Saidi and Halima Tokhi, staff writers
Harrisites know Charlene Levi as the vibrant Social Studies teacher with a ruler always at hand – and now you can add one more title: assistant dean.
At the start of the 2017-2018 school year, Ms. Levi became the new assistant dean of Townsend Harris High School.
Ms. Levi described her new position as someone who simply maintains order: “I help Ms. Fig with putting through referrals and walking in the halls to make sure that people aren’t just hanging out in the hallway and making noise.”
She explained, “There isn’t much change [in regards to my schedule]. The only difference now is that [I teach one fewer class]. That’s the time I have to dedicate to the responsibility of being an assistant dean.”
She said, “There are still some courses that I need to take in order to understand the computer system, eSchoolData. Other than that, it’s relatively simple.”
Principal Brian Condon and UFT chapter leader Franco Scardino agreed on the necessity of the position due to the tight schedule of current Dean Robin Figelman and new budgetary freedom.
Mr. Scardino described the process, which can be found in the UFT contract with the DOE, of establishing the position: “The assistant dean position is identified as a contemporary time position… The members, at least 55% of them, have to vote to approve the position. Usually the person with the most seniority is given the position.”
Principal Condon further explained, “Our school has an extra period compared to most schools, which have a schedule of 0-8. Our dean stays until 8th period, but we needed someone to stay 9th period and be around during one of the busiest periods in the school.”
Ms. Figelman said, “The position was necessary for moments when I am not in the building. I usually teach at the Fitzgerald Gym on QC campus…I’m also not in the building [at the end of the day]. The administration felt another hand was needed.”
Ms. Figelman was once in the same position as Ms. Levi as the assistant dean six years ago, under Dean Wanda Nix before her retirement. Ms. Levi discussed the necessity of training a new person to work with the current dean so someone is prepared when the dean retires.
Several faculty members and students have expressed their support for Ms. Levi.
Assistant Principal of Humanities Rafal Olechowski said; “I was rooting for Ms. Levi the entire time. She has a particular strength due to her unique relationship with students – it’s direct and natural. She can be firm and kind at the same time.”
Colleague and close friend, history teacher Jamie Baranoff said, “I think she knows all the rules of the school really well. She can be tough, but fair. She works well with other people… and can work well with Ms. Figelman.”
Senior Tandeep Sawhney said, “Most underclassmen see Ms. Fig…and only know her as the dean. Ms. Levi knows many of the students, and I think some people would be more comfortable coming up to her for that reason.”
Senior Class President Bailey Chan stated, “When I’m troubled, I always seem to find myself in her office because I never feel judged or ashamed to be myself… She’s perfect for this position because she’s an inspiration to many young girls in Townsend Harris, especially.”
Senior Justin Butron added, “I love how she has the balance of being a loving and nurturing and chill teacher, while also maintaining all seriousness when tough situations arise.”
Mr. Condon explained, “I wasn’t looking for a disciplinarian but for someone who can make good relationships with students so that they make good decisions as opposed to punishing them afterwards. Ms. Levi was a good fit.”
Ms. Levi stated, “I believe that being a dean at Townsend Harris is one of the easiest jobs that there could be because our kids are so great.”