Last week, Stuyvesant High School principal Stanley Teitel resigned suddenly (at 3 p.m. on Friday!), leaving the specialized school in a lurch weeks before the new school year began. The Department of Education moved quickly to appoint a new interim leader: Jie Zhang, a DOE school network administrator who has been a principal and also taught at both Forest Hills High School in Queens AND Rosewood High School at Rikers Island. Read that, Stuy kids, who may or may not have participated in that stupid Regents cheating ring? Your new principal used to TEACH AT RIKERS.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said, "We are fortunate to have tremendous leaders and talented teachers like Jie Zhang in New York City public schools, and we are thrilled to have her join the Stuyvesant High School community." Zhang, whose son graduated from Stuyvesant in 2008 (he just graduated from Harvard in three years; now he's at Carnegie Mellon for a graduate degree in computer science) and whose daughter is a junior there, said, "My top priority is to create a positive school culture that ensures integrity and zero tolerance for cheating."
The Wall Street Journal reports, "Ms. Zhang was born and raised in China and trained there as an electrical engineer. She earned a master’s degree in applied mathematics from Stony Brook University and began teaching math in 1988 at Rosewood High School at Rikers Island. She was later a teacher and assistant principal at Forest Hills High School." She was also principal of Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, a specialized high school. and during her tenure there from 2006 to 2011, "the school earned an A on every New York City Progress Report, the Department of Education said."
Zhang also seems interested in working on Stuy's diversity problem. As Gotham School notes, "Citywide, 72 percent of students are black and Latino, but at Stuyvesant, it’s Asian students who make up 72 percent of enrollment. Just 4 percent of Stuyvesant students are black and Latino, although those numbers could edge up this year." Regarding the issue Zhang, who will be the school's first Asian principal, says, "I’m for the idea of diversity. We live in New York City where diversity is the key. I’m definitely going to promote the idea of diversity."
The rumor remains that Teitel resigned over the cheating scandal, as the DOE investigates whether he and other administrators followed procedures, but it has not been confirmed. After his resignation it was suggested that current assistant principal Randi Damesek would be named principal, but we're told that some students have been vocal in their disintrest in that idea.
Meanwhile, Zhang hopes to become the school's permanent principal after her interim period (this requires sign-off from a committee); one Stuy instructor, computer science teacher Mike Zamansky, said, "I know that she is a math person and I know that there are math teachers at Stuy who know her well and who think very highly of her. My experiences with her have been very good."