Posts tagged "Straight shooter"
June 13, 2012
On a sunny Friday morning, the hallways in a Bronx school buzzed with excitement as students prepared to celebrate their prom in the first floor cafeteria, which had been converted into a disco-themed dance floor.
Principal Ava Kaplan greeted a group of P186′s eighth graders as parents, teachers, and other administrators hovered over them with cameras. Everyone gathered around to cheer the 29 students who, because of serious cognitive and physical disabilities, are part of the school’s alternative assessment program.
Kaplan bent down and waved one hand across her face. “Beautiful,” she said in sign language to a girl in a white lace dress.
The prom is a welcomed break in Kaplan’s busy schedule – running a special education school requires the Bronx native to take on additional responsibilities than a district school principal would because of the extra support her students require inside and outside of the classroom.
Now in her fifth year as principal, Kaplan’s no-nonsense attitude helps her oversee the large special education school, which has five campuses, 542 students, and more than 200 staff members.
The Bronx school is under the umbrella of the Department of Education’s District 75, which encompasses all of the city’s special education programs for students who have autism, cognitive and physical disabilities, hearing or speech impediments, and other serious issues that make it difficult for them to regularly attend a district school.
As principal, Kaplan’s duties often extend beyond the walls of P186. Some days, Kaplan is a social worker; other days, she’s a guardian. And everyday she’s a demanding boss who expects her staff to keep up with the complicated responsibilities that come with caring for some of the city’s most challenged students. (more…)