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Time Warner Inc. Chooses the Winners of Its First "Principals of Excellence" Awards, Celebrating Exemplary Leadership in New York City Public Schools


New York, NY – Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) chose today the recipients of the inaugural “Principals of Excellence” Awards. The awards were created by Time Warner to celebrate the leadership of exemplary principals in New York City public schools. The five winners were selected from among 14 finalists by a distinguished panel chaired by Time Warner Chairman and CEO Dick Parsons. The awards continue Time Warner’s longstanding commitment to developing leadership in the New York City public school system.

“These extraordinarily talented and dedicated individuals exemplify the leadership qualities so important to the New York City public school system,” said Mr. Parsons. “As a media company, and one that calls New York City home, we believe that supporting the public schools not only strengthens our community, but is vital to the long-term success of our business.”

Each award will include a $20,000 grant for the school, to be designated for use by the principal, and a $5,000 honorarium, which will go directly to the principal. The awards will be presented at a special reception and dinner ceremony at Time Warner’s headquarters at Columbus Circle on October 10, 2007.

The winners are:

* Alan D. Cohen – Principal, P.S. 69X, The Bronx
* Alice Hom – Principal, Yung Wing Elementary P.S. 124, Manhattan
* Dr. Sandye Poitier-Johnson – Principal, Thurgood Marshall Academy of Learning and Social Justice, Manhattan
* Ruth N. Quiles – Principal, P.S. 131, Brooklyn
* Rima Ritholtz – Principal, P.S. 176X, The Bronx

Below is a brief description of the achievements of each winner.

More than 350 principals were nominated for the awards by either their peers (current and former principals) or by members of the school community including parents, teachers, and community leaders.

Honorees were selected based on a number of qualitative and quantitative criteria, including: the principal’s leadership vision, his or her community-building efforts, the school’s academic achievements, and the opportunities that have been created for students as a result of the principal’s efforts.

The Award Selection Committee includes:

* Lisa Belzberg, Chairman of the Board, PENCIL
* Harold Brown, Vice President, School Improvement, KnowledgeWorks Foundation
* Sonia Gulardo, Director of Special Projects, Beginning with Children Foundation
* Peter Negroni, Senior Vice President, The College Board
* Dr. Pedro Noguera, Professor of Teaching & Learning, NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education & Human Development
* Richard Parsons, Chairman and CEO, Time Warner Inc.
* Wendy Puriefoy, President, Pen Education Network
* Lisa Quiroz, Senior Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Time Warner Inc.
* Claudia Wallis, Contributing Editor, TIME Magazine

The creation of the awards was announced by Time Warner in May, as part of its longstanding involvement with the New York City public schools, which has focused to a significant degree on strengthening public school leadership. The awards’ overarching purpose is to shed light on the essential role played by principals in the New York City public school system.

The awards were open to any principal currently working in a New York City public school – whether an elementary, middle or high school, a large established school, or a new small school – who has a minimum of three years’ cumulative career experience as a New York City public school principal. Additional information on the awards is available online at

About Time Warner Corporate Responsibility
Time Warner’s philanthropy focuses on education and the arts. Specifically, the company funds programs that support leadership in the public schools, raise academic achievement among middle and high school students from underrepresented backgrounds, and nurture creativity and diversity in the arts.

About Time Warner Inc.
Time Warner Inc. is a leading media and entertainment company, whose businesses include interactive services, cable systems, filmed entertainment, television networks, and publishing.


Alan D. Cohen – Principal, P.S. 69X
560 Thieriot Avenue, The Bronx

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’s most recent score on the New York City Department of Education Progress Report was 98.7%. In mathematics, student proficiency has increased more than 40% in four years, and when compared to their peers at similar schools, the students at P.S. 69 performed 121.5% better. In reading, scores on standardized tests have improved by more than 30% in four years. When compared to their peers at similar schools, the students at P.S. 69 performed 99% better.

Principal Cohen grew up in Brooklyn and attended New York City public schools. He is a graduate of Brooklyn College, holds an M.S. in Special Education from NYU, and has trained at the NYC Leadership Academy.

Alice Hom – Principal, Yung Wing Elementary P.S. 124
40 Division Street, Manhattan

P.S. 124, Yung Wing Elementary, is named after the first Chinese student to attend and graduate from an American college, specifically Yale University. In 1872, he formed the Chinese Educational Mission, a program supported by the Qing Dynasty government that enabled 120 Chinese students to study in the United States.

Continuing in the tradition of the school’s namesake, Principal Alice Hom strives to implement learning initiatives that enrich the entire school community.

Alice Hom has served as principal of P.S. 124 since 2002. In that time, she has boosted test scores in reading and math, emphasized professional development for teachers, and created a collaborative learning environment with the active involvement of parents and community resources. She has engaged parents in school committees focused on school safety, crisis management and, grant writing. She has also created annual Career and Field Days and established ongoing partnerships with New York Cares and Urban Farming. Family involvement is essential at P.S. 124.

Principal Hom initiated a five-year plan in 2005 to develop a school-wide Enrichment Model. Collaborations with arts programs such as Studio in a School, the National Dance Institute, and cultural institutions such as the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Natural History provide students with hands-on learning experiences that foster their social and academic growth. Staged performances and the annual Literacy Fair allow students to showcase their talents and skills as performing artists, visual artists, dancers, writers, and budding scientists. The school’s musical concerts and, in particular, its annual Chinese New Year Gala, are well attended by families and community partners.

The achievements of P.S. 124’s students are reflected in standardized tests, which show that almost 87% of students are reading at or above grade level and nearly 93% are performing at or above grade level in mathematics.

Principal Hom was born and raised in the Bronx and attended New York City public schools. She holds degrees from Barnard College (B.A., Psychology); Teachers College, Columbia University (M.A., Special Education); and Pace University (M.S., Supervising and Administration).

Ruth N. Quiles – Principal, P.S. 131
4305 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn

When Ruth Quiles arrived at P.S. 131, School of Performing Arts, in 1999, the school had been identified as a School in Need of Improvement by New York State. Never daunted by a challenge, she set about creating the successful school community that P.S. 131 is today.

Among the first things Principal Quiles noted was that the school’s English Language Arts (ELA) scores were deficient. She wanted to know why, so she began poring over the test data and disaggregating it. She discovered that the writing portion of the ELA was lowering the students’ overall scores. She arranged professional development for teachers through the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and implemented a Writers Workshop across the entire school. This focus on writing began to show immediate results.

Later, she discovered that the school’s English Language Learners were not performing as well as monolingual students, and that the number of English Language Learners was steadily increasing. Today, 40% of the student body are English Language Learners. To focus attention on this need, Principal Quiles engaged the entire staff in a study of English Language Learners to reinforce the notion that English Language Learners were not the sole responsibility of bilingual and English as a Second Language teachers. In so doing she further solidified the school community and the notion of everyone learning and growing as one.

Principal Quiles also successfully pursued a Magnet Grant in Performing and Visual Arts. Says Quiles, “When a student leaves our school he or she will have had the opportunity to explore a variety of mediums that they may use to express themselves and to be successful in addition to academics.” P.S. 131 now has partnerships with Studio in a School, Leap, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Ballroom Dancing, and Lincoln Center, broadening the students’ exposure to the arts. During the past year, Principal Quiles has also initiated a system for providing intervention and enrichment based on the individual needs of students. One component of this program provides small group instruction to at-risk students at the end of each school day.

Principal Quiles was born and raised in Brooklyn and attended New York City Public Schools. She holds degrees from St. Joseph’s College (B.A., Education – Dual Certification) and Brooklyn College (M.S., Education; Advanced Certificate, Administration and Supervision)

Dr. Sandye Poitier-Johnson – Principal
Thurgood Marshall Academy of Learning and Social Justice
200-214 West 135 Street, Manhattan

Dr. Sandye Poitier-Johnson has been the principal of Thurgood Marshall Academy of Learning and Social Justice (TMA) for 11 years. The school was among the first New Visions Schools (small learning communities), but it did not initially flourish as anticipated. With a staff consisting primarily of teachers with less than two years’ experience and no permanent site, the school suffered from poor academic performance, many behavioral incidents, and no effective professional development. In 1996, after three changes of leadership, the school was scheduled to close. It was then that Sandye Poitier-Johnson, a teacher at the school, replaced its third principal. She has held the position ever since.

Today, the school boasts a graduation rate consistently 20 to 30% higher than the city-wide average. In 2000, only 9% of students passed the Math A Regents. This year, 82% of the students taking the Math A Regents scored at or above grade level; 89% of the students who took the English Regents this year passed, with 65% of them passing at the higher levels. The school has consistently met its targets for the State Department of Education and is a school in good standing.

Says Dr. Poitier-Johnson, “Our students must develop the level of stamina needed to do more rigorous academic courses in the upper grades so they can be prepared to compete successfully in a global workforce and marketplace.” With this in mind, Thurgood Marshall Academy applied to become an International Baccalaureate school to implement the Middle Years Program, which focuses primarily on critical thinking skills, study skills, and proficiency in a second language. TMA will be the first New York City Title 1 public school to offer this program.

In 11 years, Principal Poitier-Johnson has transformed TMA from a school that was almost shuttered to a safe haven for learning from which more than 85% of graduating students are accepted to college.

Principal Poitier-Johnson was born and raised in central Harlem and attended public New York City junior high and high schools. She holds degrees from Morgan State University (B.S., Psychology); Bank Street College of Education (M.S., Special Education); and Teachers College, Columbia University (Ed.D., Learning Disabilities)

Rima Ritholtz – Principal, P.S. 176X
850 Baychester Avenue, The Bronx

With nearly 500 students with autism spectrum disorder, P.S. 176X is the largest New York City school serving students with autism, from ages 2 through 21. The school’s 76 classes are located in four general education schools: P.S. 178X, P.S. 153X, I.S. 181X, and Truman High School.

During the 11 years that Rima Ritholtz has been principal of P.S. 176X, data has shown students progressing well, moving into larger groups and scoring levels 3 and 4 on the New York State Alternate Assessment (equivalent to standardized testing for severely challenged students).

P.S. 176X has been recognized by the New York State Department of Education as one of five schools in New York State with an effective program for students with autism. The school was selected as a Collaborative Community of Practice the first year the program was instituted in New York City and serves as a mentor school.

The school offers rich, creative, instructional programs with students participating in a chorus, drum line, rock band, flute-a-phone ensemble, prom, and family camping trip. Community programs include the “Best Buddy Program,” a national program that facilitates connections between general education students and students with disabilities. And parents are offered monthly activities that engage them as partners in their children’s education. These include workshops, advocacy information, in-classroom activities, networking, and recreational opportunities. “These parents want for their children the same thing I want for my children,” says Principal Rimholtz. “That’s the mission of our school. To give them a quality of education better than any student anywhere despite their challenges.”

Principal Ritholtz was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Roslyn, New York. She holds degrees from SUNY Stony Brook (B.S., Elementary Education), Long Island University (M.S., Special Education), and Pace University (M.S., School Administration).

Contact Info:
Keith Cocozza
Time Warner Inc.
(212) 484-7482


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