Anthony Barbetta assumes position of principal

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Anthony Barbetta has replaced Kenneth Bonamo as principal of Townsend Harris High School. Formerly the principal of Thomas Edison Career Technical Education High School, Mr. Barbetta arrives with years of experience in the New York City Department of Education.

Principal Barbetta at work in his office.

Though the change in leadership occurred quickly, Mr. Barbetta describes the process in positive terms: “The transition has been remarkably smooth. My prior experience as Principal at Edison, as an Assistant Principal of Social Studies at Edison, and as an Assistant Principal of Administration at Forest Hills High School really prepared me for this; I know what the expectations are and I’m prepared to work hard.”

Born and raised in Bayside, Queens, Mr. Barbetta’s District 26 upbringing strongly influenced him. “My neighbor to
 my left
 was

 an

 Assistant Principal at Bayside, and my neighbor to my right was a teacher at Cardozo. I spoke with them often 

and I’d say 

they 

influenced me 

a 

lot, but I knew I wanted to pursue a career in education since the fourth grade,” said Mr. Barbetta.

His interest in the humanities has also been key to his development. “I’ve loved theatre and English since I was a little boy. Then in elementary and middle schools I really learned to love history. In college I was a theatre major and then an English major. But, I wanted to eat. If I pursued theatre I wouldn’t be here today,” he continued.

Mr. 

Barbetta found his first 

teaching 

job 

straight out of college. He taught at Brooklyn’s Grand Street Campus, the Old Eastern District High School. It was a school “plagued by violence and low achievement,” with only a 60% graduation rate. “I grew affection for those kids: the ones that came, [and] the ones that tried. They were really bright. I learned how to teach in that school. There’s a saying, ‘if you can teach in a tough school, you can teach anywhere,’” said Mr. Barbetta.

After that position, Mr. Barbetta spent nearly a year at Brooklyn Technical High School, and seven years at Forest Hills High School. He then became Assistant Principal of Social Studies and Foreign Language at Thomas Edison High School, and then principal for the next 

five 

years.

Throughout his 20 years in the school system, Mr. Barbetta has spent 14 years as a history teacher and has held numerous administrative positions.

Mr. Barbetta stated, “My supervisors and fellow teachers encouraged me to take on administrative positions. They thought I had the necessary leader- ship skills, which I think really came with my position as captain of the baseball team in high school. I learned how to be a leader there.”

But after taking on administrative roles, Mr. Barbetta found that he couldn’t stay away from teaching. “Whenever I’m in the classroom, it brings a desire in me to teach. Unfortunately my schedule doesn’t allow it, but I do mentor for the Department of Education and teach seminar classes.”

Regarding his introduction to the school community, Mr. Barbetta said, “The staff, students, and alumni [at THHS] have been very welcoming. Everyone has been very receptive and kind.”

During his first year at Townsend Harris, 

Mr. Barbetta hopes to observe the dynamics of the school and learn how it functions. “I’m not looking to make any drastic changes. It’s too soon to say if there will be any 

changes. 

There will 

definitely 

be 

more collaboration with the teaching staff. I just want to make sure Townsend Harris remains the best school in New York City. I want to make sure the school survives any budget cuts that may impact our school,” he said.

Mr. Barbetta has a few goals for the school year, mainly to focus on technology and to reinforce the new Common Core Standards. “The Common Core Standards are a new set of nation- al standards involving writing, listening, reading, and speaking. We already comply with the standards; we just want to prepare for the potential changes in Regents exams coming in the next two years. The AP’s will be working with the teachers and students, so there will be some different activities but not a dramatic change from what we do already here at Townsend Harris.”

“I’m just very excited to be here, and grateful for the opportunity to be with such wonderful students and staff,” said Mr. Barbetta.

He added, “You only get one high school experience. I want to make sure it’s the best experience possible [for the students].”

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