A.P. Talk- Mr. Colon


Mr. Colon started the year as FDR’s Assistant Principal of Compliance. However, midway through the year, he took over as the Assistant Principal of the ISS Department.  His new position has him constantly on the move.  The New Dealer was lucky to get some time to interview Mr. Colon.

How long have you been working for the DOE?

I have been working with the DOE since 2007. I was a New York City Teaching Fellow; that is, I am a career “changer.”  I entered the DOE from the Legal field.

Why did you go into public education? 

That is an interesting question.  I have always been around education. First, as a student of course, in college, law school and graduate school. Additionally, I became a flight instructor. That is when I first learned what a lesson was and how to best teach complex ideas, breaking them down into manageable concepts.  We actually had to plan each lesson (lesson plan) both on the ground and in the air.   After graduating law school, I served as a JAG (Judge Advocate General Officer) in the U.S. Navy.  I was involved as an adjunct professor at the law school and also worked with students in high schools helping them prepare for Mock Trial competitions. I found enjoyment in teaching.

What did you do for the DOE before you became an Assistant Principal?

Prior to becoming an AP I was an Instructional Services Support teacher, teaching social studies, law, and ELA. My teaching assignment was in the Bronx.

What are the challenges you face as the Assistant Principal of the ISS Department?

My challenges are making sure the students are served and the teachers and paraprofessionals receive all the resources they need to provide for all students. During the day, the challenge is staying on a schedule. The ISS department always has matters that need to be addressed, which may take me out of my planned day. Even if I plan the day, I can expect it to be modified by events, which may require my immediate attention. In short, the challenge is being flexible.

What are your goals for the department?

My goals for the department are simple. Provide support for the teachers and staff, so that they can provide the best instruction and prepare our students for the future.

How do you think FDR can become a better school?

First, FDR is a very good school. I am impressed with the teachers, staff and students. FDR has a unique student body. FDR faces many challenges in making sure every student has access to a great education. We are challenged with having a large population of English language learners. I am impressed with the teachers working hard to help all students, at all levels. This is not easy work.

It reminds me of when I started school. Since my parents came from Puerto Rico, we only spoke Spanish at home. When I entered first grade I was an English language learner. Back then times and instruction were different. Here at FDR teachers and staff work to help all students. I have been impressed with the way FDR has maintained a family atmosphere, while serving such a diverse population. FDR reaches out to students and their families with its programs. FDR represents the future.

How can we go from very good to great? Continue with what we do- reach out to every student.  This is the challenge, but not just one limited to teachers and staff. We need to work together as a community. The students are the driving force. We can go from good to great by working together to address some concerns. One concern is the attendance rate for 1st and 8th periods. We need the students to help us help those who have difficulty with making 1st period and not attending 8th period. It is difficult to pass a class if you are not here. Therefore, I ask you, the students: How can we work together to reach full attendance for those classes? How can we help each other?

What advice would you give a student who is struggling academically?

I have experience with this question. I was a student that struggled academically. My advice would be to understand that we may not “get” all subjects. There may be subjects which are more difficult than others. Seek out help. Ask your teachers directly, how can I prepare for the class? Determine your strengths and recognize your weakness. I used to hate writing. Writing was my weakness. I went to a teacher who helped me tremendously. She stated that it was o.k. to struggle. That with practice and guidance, I could become a better writer. She also suggested that in order for me to write better, I should read more. Well, that worked for me.

I practiced, struggled, made changes and eventually learned that it was achievable. In the meantime, I learned to read more. It was a win-win. On another point I realized that I learned best from visuals. I soaked up documentaries. So my advice would be to seek help. You have teachers that would love you to ask.  They want you to succeed. Find your learning style, and accept that you may not be ready now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get there. It is achievable.

What do you like best about FDR High School?

That is easy. Seeing the students in the morning and welcoming them to the school. Seeing the faces, smiles, frowns, and hearing the laughter. But most importantly, I love the FDR family atmosphere. That is what is special at FDR.

The New Dealer would like to give a special thanks to Mr. Colon for all he is doing every day to make FDR a great school!