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                       Robin Roberts of Good Morning America

Frpm left to right: Lyudmila Bloch of Etiquette Outreach, Robin Roberts of Good Morning America, and Mary Hanlon of Mars 2112 at PS 69, NYC.

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 Bronx Times Reporter



When Alan Cohen became Principal in 2003, P.S. 69 had been designated a School in Need of Improvement by the State of New York and was in jeopardy of being taken over for poor grades. He set about building a community – "a climate of open communication, sharing, collaboration, and respect."

"There's no magic formula, but what I did give people were options and opportunities where they'd never had them before," says Principal Cohen. He began reform at P.S. 69 with the implementation of conflict resolution platforms for teachers, students, and parents. In fact, a couple of years ago on a visit to City Hall, a few of P.S. 69's fourth graders told Mayor Bloomberg that they would personally help him resolve conflict at the office, because thanks to their school's peer mediation program, they had "negotiation skills."

Principal Cohen introduced a writing process across the grades that connected students' writing to reading through favorite authors; implemented enrichment clusters in architecture, gardening, photography, and journalism; and put into effect an extended instructional platform, with school beginning at 7:00 am and ending at 5:00 pm. Also offered were Saturday School, Spring and Winter Holiday Learning Institutes, and a Summer Enrichment Institute. The school has repeatedly received A’s on New York City Department of Education Progress ReportIn mathematics, student proficiency has increased more than 50%. In reading, scores on standardized tests have improved by more than 34%. Principal Cohen has been the recipient of numerous awards that are a testament to the impact that he has made on the P.S. 69 school community. He was the recipient of the Outstanding Educator of the Year Award in 2006 and received the Principals of Excellence Award in 2007.

He is a Cahn Fellow at Columbia University. He teaches at the Harvard Principals Center and the New York Leadership Academy. Principal Cohen is a proud graduate of New York University. 

P. S. 69 is a neighborhood school in the South Bronx/Clason Point section of the Bronx. Our Pre-K through Grade 4 student population is approximately 597. P.S. 69 is a Title I school with all students receiving free lunch.  Our student population is 72 % Hispanic, 22 % African-American, 2 % Caucasian and 3 % Asian. School utilization is at 108 % capacity. Since 2003, Advocates for Children have recognized P.S. 69 as both a school of choice and one of the top 100 schools in New York City. 

The cornerstone of P.S. 69’s dramatic progress is a strong working school community, which has created an environment for improved teaching and learning. A professional development initiative has begun which facilitates the implementation of Balanced Literacy, Mathematics and assessment-informed instruction. The professional development team used the following models to provide a framework for change: the Renzulli Schoolwide Enrichment Model, the Model of Gardiner’s Multiple Intelligences, the foundational theory and practices of constructive learning as found in educational theories of Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruner and the Principles of Learning (Pittsburgh University). The business and leadership practices formulated by Noel Tichy have taught the school about the cycle of leadership and the “virtuous teaching cycle”. P.S. 69 uses the essence of his model - successful change occurs when leaders teach and learn interactively. This begins a cycle where everyone teaches, everybody teachers and everyone gets smarter and more aligned daily. Additionally, Most recently, Principal Alan Cohen visited the town of Reggio in Italy to explore in depth the social and intellectual foundational supports that the philosophy of the Reggio leaning styles is based on. The Pre-Kindergarten at P.S. 69 is already immersed in the Reggio model. This renowned early childhood program is designed to accelerate learning through social and play experience.



P.S. 69’s mission of educating hearts and minds informs its decision to infuse its rigorous academic programming with the Arts. The school immerses students in the Visual Arts with a focus on multi-medium work. (Recently created partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute). The school provides opportunities for students to perform in theatrical productions and sing in the P.S. 69 chorus. Students engage in both chess and debate programs. Also, P.S. 69 has developed a rigorous peer mediation and conflict resolution program that trains students as peer mediators working to constructively resolve conflict in the building.


Social Skills, Dining Skills, and Character Education

Social Skills

Why Teach Character Education in Our Schools?

by Jeremy Willinger

What makes a child extraordinary? Parents and teachers both have a vital role in shaping their children’s future. We teach etiquette lessons that help them learn the difference between right and wrong and, by helping them to focus on their actions, how to interact with others.

In today’s public and private school system, there is a strong emphasis on the three R’s, but educators must consider adding an E to this alphabet - etiquette. Teaching children to make smart choices will help them to become compassionate and loyal individuals, and can greatly reduce future problems they may develop or encounter. Moving way beyond the proper usage of forks and knives, twenty-first-century etiquette offers a blueprint for weaving the fabric of our future society.

The goal of character education is to raise emotionally balanced, socially compassionate, and caring individuals with a solid value system. Those educators who focus mainly on test scores are in for a rude awakening when larger issues arise (the child is cheating on tests, or stealing from classmates, for example).

Courses on etiquette and character development can sweep potential minefields by imparting the building blocks of successful emotional growth: integrity, honesty, empathy, leadership, and responsibility, to name just a few. If your child grows up to be a doctor but is greedy and uncaring, that advanced degree counts for very little, for you would have failed miserably in nurturing a true human being.

Recent studies have shown that emotional intelligence (EI) is as central to a child’s success and fulfillment as good grades and a college degree. Etiquette seeks to enhance the EI of children by encouraging them to express and discuss their emotions, thereby improving their social sensitivity and public behavior.

Along with increased self-confidence and the ability to relate to others, students of etiquette develop enhanced social skills and experience far less anxiety when handlingpeer pressure. The potential for school violence can also be reduced by practicing the responsible behavior stressed in etiquette education.

The effects of etiquette and character training are immediate and longlasting. Public school children, after having taken only two training sessions in character education, demonstrate a marked improvement in self-confidence, social skills, and other beneficial qualities.

Considering the life-changing benefits that etiquette training offers, the reluctance of many educators to adopt this training seems shortsighted indeed. When public and parochial schools emphasize character education, their graduation rate is 98 percent, compared to the usual 50 percent seen in most public schools. In other words, public schools that fail to offer character-education training are almost ensuring that at least half of their students will be left behind!

For parents, educators and especially our children, etiquette education and character development pay big dividends that last a lifetime, making the for etiquette result in children who will represent another E – extraordinary.

 Part 2/  Character-Education-how-and-what-to-teach-in-our-schools


Table Manners, Etiquette, and Dining Skills Class

Table Manners Class