NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Michael Galland, former math and technology chair at New Rochelle's Isaac Young Middle School, was recently named Columbus Elementary School's new assistant principal.
Galland begins his new position Sept. 1, taking over for Sonia Nunez, who became the school's principal following the retirement of Yigal Joseph at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.
The New Rochelle Daily Voice asked Galland some questions about his new post.
Daily Voice: What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?
Galland: I hope to rejoin a fantastic faculty and support a talented colleague, Ms. Sonia Nunez, who is assuming the role of principal. Broadly, Columbus is and has been in very good hands for many years. I refer to the former administration here (Dr. Yigal Joseph and Ms. Nunez) and to a large core of experienced and devoted teachers with whom I was fortunate enough to have taught when I first came to New Rochelle 14 years ago. I believe I can support the staff well as we fully shift literacy and math instruction to match the challenging expectations laid out in the new Common Core State Standards.
How long is your position for?
This is a probationary appointment, as all new appointments are. Probationary appointments last three years and tenure is (hopefully) granted after three (sometimes four) years of successful service (just like teaching positions.
What changes do you want to make, or do you feel the school is well on its
way to success in the future?
I haven't been at Columbus for nine years, so I don't see my role at this point as one of "making change" right away. I need to learn all I can from Ms. Nunez and the teachers—about their hopes, their goals and what teachers/staff feel are their needs. I hope to learn and adapt and find places where I can work to better the school overall.
Where were you before? What is your background?
I've served as the department chair of mathematics and technology at Isaac E. Young Middle School for the last nine school years. Before this, I taught third and fourth grades at Columbus (1998-2003). In 1998 I earned my Masters of Education Administration from The Harvard Graduate School of Education, with a concentration in The Principalship and Teaching and Learning. I taught for two years in District 11, Bronx, New York as an ESL teacher, and began teaching out of college in 1991 for Teach For America in Houston, Texas.
Why were you interested in the vacant assistant principal position at Columbus Elementary School?
All teachers, I believe, just ‘know’ where they are supposed to ‘be’ teaching. For me, I've always just ‘known’ that I am an elementary school teacher/person at my core.
As such, I've always dreamed about returning to the elementary level in a leadership capacity. The deeper roots of my instructional knowledge lie in the early grades.
At IEYMS, I've grown considerably and I have stretched my understandings of the rigors and specifics of literacy and math competencies at the middle grades; now, I feel even more able to assist Ms. Nunez and the very strong teachers at Columbus in adjusting curricula and instruction to meet new standards that require more of students and teachers in all aspects of teaching and learning.
This, primarily, summarizes why I felt ‘now’ was the right time to seek out this AP opportunity.
How will you adapt to not only a new school building, but a new and higher position as well? How excited are you?
I am simply thrilled to return to Columbus. I fell in love with New Rochelle BECAUSE of Columbus school. In the spring of 1998, when I first stepped foot in the entry of Columbus School, I knew immediately that I wanted to become a part of the community and teaching staff there.
Returning now, as an administrator, is a dream crossing of two great drives in my professional life—assuming a leadership role at the elementary level in New Rochelle and (re)joining a school to which I've always felt so attached. I've been an administrator for nine years, and I've been blessed that my former principal and assistant principal (Mr. Anthony Bongo and Mrs. Tawanda Robinson) challenged me and asked me to assume a great deal of supervisory responsibilities at IEYMS.
So the challenges of this transition, I believe, will be in learning how to work effectively with Ms. Nunez and how to match with and combine my skill-set with Ms. Nunez's strengths and considerable experience.
I'm grateful for the community's, the school's, and board's, and the superintendents' faith in me as I assume what I hope to be another long administrative role within New Rochelle.