A New Year, A New Principal Team Giving Harlem Middle School A Spark

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Whether you ask veteran teachers or the new batch of administrators, there's no denying a different buzz this year at Harlem Middle School.

"I think change is good overall, and I think the teachers needed a bit of change all the way up through the ranks, and the teachers came in with a positive attitude that's rubbing off on the kids," teacher Mike Oliveri said.

First year principal John Cusimano and staff are cracking down on the little things - a tougher dress code, a more orderly cafeteria - in hopes that the big things - achievement and safety - will fall into place.

"We understand that the age that they're at, they're going to be a little rambunctious at times, and some of the minor things we'll talk to them and move on, but they do understand that we have high expectations," Cusimano said.

No place are expectations higher than end of year state tests. Harlem Middle has lagged in recent years, a concern the principals and teachers are confident they'll reverse.

"I think with a lot of these problems in years past not really being a part of the kids mentality this year, I think the focus is not going to be a problem at all," Oliveri said.
Harlem Middle principals admit there are still challenges, but still feel good about the improved climate of teaching - and most importantly - learning.

"The students that we put out is our product, and the taxpayers want to see that we are putting out a quality product, so in those terms I hope that can see we are making strides," Cusimano said.