Looks can be deceiving, as the old adage goes. When principal Shimon Waronker first showed up at J.H.S. 22 in South Bronx, parents and students alike weren’t quite sure what to make of his long beard, black hat, and yarmulke, characteristics of his faith as a Hasidic Jew. The school boasts a student population that is predominantly black and Hispanic, raising concerns about the potential for culture shock.
After graduating from the New York City Leadership Academy, Waronker took on the task of overhauling the school. He instituted a number of controversial changes, such as a school uniform policy and city-subsidized etiquette classes, that rattled many long-time teachers and drew attention from the community.
But the proof is in the pudding, as the New York Times reports. Standardized test scores are on the rise, giving J.H.S. 22 an A on its new school report card. Moreover, attendance rates are exceeding 93 percent, where classes were once lucky if more than a fraction of students showed, and the school is off the list of the city’s most dangerous. Most of the credit, according to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, belongs to Waronker. “It’s an entirely different place,” said Klein. “If I could clone Shimon Waronker, I would do that immediately.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.