Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña promoted a Bloomberg-era official and plucked a longtime principal from his Brooklyn school today as she began to fill out the Department of Education’s inner circle.
Dorita Gibson, previously the deputy chancellor for equity and access, will be Fariña’s second in command, the Department of Education announced today. In her previous position, Gibson supervised the department’s system of alternative schools and its work with the Bloomberg administration’s Young Men’s Initiative, and launched new programs to diversify selective high schools.
Phil Weinberg, principal of the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology, is the department’s new deputy chancellor for teaching and learning. That position, which Fariña herself held a decade ago, disappeared in 2010 when the department dissolved its division of teaching and learning.
Weinberg has chosen the city’s former gifted education chief, Anna Commitante, to be his top deputy. Commitante had been working as a deputy in one of the department’s five “clusters,” providing instructional support to dozens of schools.
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Together, the three appointments offer the clearest picture yet about Fariña’s priorities. All three of the new hires have been in the system for decades and have been teachers and principals in the school system.
Gibson has served at almost every level of school leadership, starting as a teacher in Queens and serving as a principal, regional superintendent and deputy superintendent. Her appointment as senior deputy chancellor also signals that Fariña doesn’t intend to purge some Bloomberg-era policies and appointees from the department.
“We’ve done such great work in the last 11, 12 years of this administration. We have great schools. We have great programs,” Gibson told Chalkbeat in August. “But how do we as a school system make sure that all of our kids, regardless of their color and socioeconomic background, succeed in these programs?”
Weinberg has served as the principal at Telecommunication since 2001, the school where he started his career as an English teacher in 1986, according to a New York Times story highlighting his longevity as a principal.
Weinberg has also voiced concerns about the new teacher evaluation system, which he said put too much faith in data, rather than principals’ judgment. “Newly necessary distractions like marketing and fund-raising and data analysis may have seemed more important than getting into classrooms and working with teachers on how to plan lessons and ask questions,” he wrote in 2012.
The city’s complete press release is below.
CHANCELLOR FARIÑA ANNOUNCES NEW APPOINTMENTS AT DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HEADQUARTERS
Veteran Educators to Lead Tweed into a New Era of School Support
New Leadership Will Renew Emphasis on Improving Instruction to Enhance Learning
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced new members of her leadership team at Department of Education (DOE) headquarters. Dorita Gibson, previously the Deputy Chancellor for Equity and Access, will assume the role of Senior Deputy Chancellor and the Chancellor’s second in command. With more than 30 years experience in the public school system, Dr. Gibson has served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, regional and supervising superintendent, and Deputy Chancellor. In this new and expanded role, she will oversee all aspects of school support, Cluster and Network management, superintendents, support for struggling schools, District 79 programs, and school communications.
As head of Equity and Access under Chancellor Walcott, Deputy Chancellor Gibson oversaw District 79, a citywide network of over 300 alternative schools and programs serving over-age, under-credited youth; the Office of Adult and Continuing Education; and the Department’s Young Men’s Initiative work. She created the DREAM-SHSI program, which helps low-income middle school students develop skills for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, as well as the Summer Quest program, which provides students with summer learning opportunities aimed at closing the achievement gap. As she moves into the Department’s number two role, Dr. Gibson will bring her considerable expertise in expanding opportunities for underserved school communities.
Chancellor Fariña also appointed Phil Weinberg, previously the principal at the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn, as Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning. With more than a dozen years as a principal and nearly three decades of experience in New York City public schools, Mr. Weinberg will oversee all professional development and curriculum, performance and accountability, Common Core and college-readiness initiatives, Career and Technical Education, and instructional support. The high school Mr. Weinberg has led since 2001 has achieved a more than 35 percent increase in graduation rates since 2005. The recipient of a 2012 Sloan Award for Public Service, Mr. Weinberg previously served on the DOE’s Division of Academics, Performance, and Support Advisory Group.
In one of his first acts as Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Mr. Weinberg named Anna Commitante as his Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development. A 27-year veteran educator, Ms. Commitante was previously a Deputy Cluster Leader of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development. In her new role, she will provide leadership in curriculum development, assist schools as they transition to the Common Core Learning Standards, and direct a comprehensive professional development training program using research-based instructional methods.
“This is a new era for our schools, and these appointments send a clear message: our focus is on improving each and every classroom across the five boroughs. Having three educators with such extraordinary expertise about our City’s schools will help us channel all of our energy into quality instruction,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Principals, teachers, and staff should know they will have leaders who will not only listen, but take action to support them. This is the first step in the process of making our school system more in touch, more responsive, and more mindful of those we work with and serve.”
“With more than three decades working on behalf of City students, I’m honored to take on this role as Chancellor Fariña’s second in command. My plan is to support schools no matter what their challenges may be – instructionally, operationally, or otherwise,” said Senior Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson. “As I work to support all of our schools, I will lead by listening. We’re taking a new tone – and we plan to back it up with action.”
“I started my career as a teacher over 28 years ago, and I’m so proud to be named to this instrumental new role today. I first became a teacher because I believed it was the most authentic way I could contribute to our community. In this new role as Deputy Chancellor, I have the ability to work with, support, and empower those on the ground doing the hard work of educating our students each day,” said Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Phil Weinberg. “The most important thing to a student’s success is the quality of a teacher, and all of my focus will be on developing and streamlining ways to enhance instruction.”
“This is a time of renewal for our schools, and I’m thrilled to be in in this role to help our schools during this transition to Common Core,” said Anna Commitante, Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development. “I’ve dedicated my career to the development of principals, teachers, and schools, and I look forward to continuing to do that. With our renewed focus on professional development, we will prepare our teachers like never before for the important work that lies ahead.”
About Dr. Dorita Gibson
Dr. Dorita Gibson has spent more than 30 years in the New York City school system as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal at various schools in Queens, and has served as a deputy, regional and senior supervising superintendent. Appointed Deputy Chancellor for Equity and Access in May 2011, Gibson oversees programs and initiatives that focus on ending long-standing racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities and directing supports to high-need communities. She directs District 79, a citywide network of over 300 alternative schools and programs serving over-age, under-credited youth whose schooling has been interrupted, the Office of Adult and Continuing Education, as well as the Department’s Young Men’s Initiative work. As Deputy Chancellor, Gibson has expanded Advanced Placement courses in the City’s most underserved neighborhoods and communities. She also created the DREAM-SHSI program, which helps low-income middle school students develop skills for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, and the Summer Quest program to improve, expand, and sustain summer learning opportunities in the South Bronx as a key strategy for closing the achievement gap. Gibson holds a Doctorate in Education from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.
About Phil Weinberg
Phil Weinberg has nearly three decades of experience in New York City’s public schools. For more than a decade he taught English at the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn. He later served as assistant principal there, and was named principal in 2001, a position he has held for 13 years. At this large, urban, high-poverty school, in which more than 70 percent of students are Title 1 eligible, Mr. Weinberg established small learning communities, through which his students saw extraordinary success: the graduation rate has increased by more than 35 percent since 2005. A 2012 recipient of the Sloan Award for Public Service, Mr. Weinberg holds a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College.
About Anna Commitante
Anna Commitante, a 27 year veteran educator, was most recently Deputy Cluster Leader of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development in Cluster 2. Previously, Ms. Commitante was the K-12 Director of Literacy, Social Studies and Gifted and Talented Programs for the NYC DOE. She began her career in education as an elementary school teacher at PS 29 in Brooklyn, worked in school support as a district literacy coach/staff developer, and led a job-embedded professional development program for schools at City Hall Academy. Ms. Commitante also served as principal of New Voices Middle School in District 15, Brooklyn, a school that offers a strong humanities curriculum and fully integrated arts program. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Hunter College and a degree in educational administration from City College.