Getting a read on a new leader
By Sarina Trangle
She spent years pushing books on kids as a literacy coach. Then Christine Milton and fellow educators formed a book club with a flair for historical fiction. Now, as AmPark Neighborhood School’s new interim acting principal, Ms. Milton seeks to turn her office into a library of sorts.
“I want to start a system where teachers can give the children a little pass for doing something extraordinary or just being a good citizen, and they can come to my office at the end of the day and they can pick out a book and borrow it overnight,” Ms. Milton said, while sitting before shelves lined with bright children’s books. “I don’t want the principal’s office just to be a place where you go when you’re bad, but a place to celebrate students.”
The Norwood educator spent most of her career teaching in District 10 classrooms, but worked in Queens for the last two years. So when she heard the founding AmPark principal Elizabeth Lopez-Towey had retired, Ms. Milton was eager to return to the Bronx and lead a school known for its arts curriculum and integration of several subjects and skills into one lesson.
This year, Ms. Milton says she aims to be the bridge that connects all of AmPark’s constituents: students, “remarkably involved” parents and teachers wrangling with the new Common Core curriculum, which was designed to align students nationwide and keep them on track for college or a career from kindergarten. She’s even met with the parents who envisioned and advocated for the creation of a primary school within the Amalgamated Housing Cooperative community.
Ms. Milton seeks to bring additional professional development to AmPark staff and rely on her background as a literacy coach to help guide teachers. She wants to ensure that all students are on par to graduate prepared for the workplace or universities by meeting Common Core standards, which will mean infusing non-fiction into lessons because “that’s the bulk of what we write as adults.” And she’d like to support and enhance AmPark’s arts selection, possibly by adding an after-school drama program.