Chancellor Fariña Announces Appointment of Borough Field Support Center Directors

  • Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 Updated: Mon Apr 23, 2018

Former Superintendents, Network Leaders, Principals, and Operations Leaders Will Serve Critical Role in Streamlined School Support Structure

NEW YORK – Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced the appointment of the Department’s seven Borough Field Support Center (BFSC) Directors and its Senior Executive Director of the Office of Field Support. With guidance from Guzmán, BFSC Directors will provide supports and resources to superintendents under the new, streamlined school support structure announced in January. Each BFSC Director will manage a full range of deputies and school support resources. Superintendents will work with schools to utilize these integrated services based on schools’ individual needs and specifically to support struggling schools. The BFSC Directors will also work closely with Guzmán and other DOE central leadership, and be held accountable for the improvement of schools under their purview.

There will be one BFSC in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and two each in Brooklyn and Queens. BFSCs’ full range of supports for schools will include: instruction, finance and human resources, operations, student services such as health resources and counseling, supporting English Language Learners, and supporting students with special needs. The centers will open in summer 2015 to ensure the school support structure is in place for a smooth beginning of the 2015-16 school year. In the coming months, the new BFSC Directors will lead hiring for borough based support staff, and take part in ongoing intensive professional development and trainings with DOE leadership to ensure the centers are set to open this summer.

“I am thrilled to welcome Mariano Guzmán as Senior Executive Director of Field Support and these seven dedicated, talented educators to their new positions as Borough Field Support Center Directors,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “They are critical partners with superintendents, ensuring clear lines of accountability and the delivery of tailored support to improve student instruction. I am confident in these leaders’ ability to work closely with superintendents, schools, and DOE leadership as we work to make New York City the best urban school district in the nation.”

“I am excited to continue serving the students and families of New York City in my new capacity,” said Senior Executive Director of Field Support Mariano Guzmán. “I share Chancellor Fariña’s vision that this clearer support structure, led by strong superintendents, will put our students on the path to college and careers. I look forward to working with the Chancellor and our new Borough Field Support Center Directors to ensure a smooth transition to the new school support structure, and to ensure that superintendents and schools have the supports and resources they need to thrive.”

Mariano Guzmán currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Chancellor with responsibility for the implementation and leadership of the Borough Field Support Centers. He previously served as District 2 Superintendent, Deputy Cluster Leader for Cluster 6, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Integrated Service Center, and Deputy Superintendent for Region 9 in Manhattan. Prior to his time as Deputy Superintendent, Guzmán designed and implemented a grant-making program in education for The September 11th Fund. Guzmán has more than forty years of service to education and youth-related causes, having served as President of the Children’s Academies for Achievement; Executive Director of the Center for Educational Programs; Executive Director of the NYC Board of Education Division of Planning, Program Development and External Relations; Education Program Officer for the New York Community Trust; Founding Director of the Schomburg School, a dual language school; and classroom teacher.

The BFSC Directors come to their new positions with unique sets of skills that will allow them to develop and maintain effective learning communities aligned to the Framework for Great Schools. Each has significant experience in instruction and operations, and has demonstrated a focus on student achievement, parent engagement, and development of strong teachers and school leaders. The new Directors are: 

Yuet Chu – Manhattan (Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Yuet Chu has led Children’s First Network 103 since September 2007. In that position, she has facilitated a cross-functional team supporting 30 schools, mostly in Manhattan. She has focused on collaborating with superintendents and community partners to open, restructure, and reunify schools as determined by community needs; expand CTE, ELL, and early college programs; and develop leadership pathways for teachers and administrators. Chu started her DOE career at Manhattan’s School of the Future in 1996, and spent ten years there as a teacher and Middle School Director.

Jose Ruiz – Bronx (Districts 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

Jose Ruiz has served as Cluster Leader of Cluster 6 since January 2010, where he has worked to guide school leaders to best serve their students and families. A native of the Dominican Republic, Ruiz began his teaching career at Taft High School in October 1991. He has been  a Deputy Regional Superintendent, principal, and assistant principal in the Bronx, and also the CEO and Deputy CEO of the DOE’s Leadership Learning Support Organization.

Bernadette Fitzgerald – Brooklyn (Districts 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 23, 32)

Bernadette Fitzgerald has been the principal at PS 503 in Sunset Park since September 2008. During her time at PS 503, she has focused on instituting the six elements of the Framework for Great Schools, and will continue this focus to build capacity in Brooklyn schools as Borough Field Support Center Director. Fitzgerald was previously the assistant principal at PS 503, and taught elementary grades at PS 372 in Brooklyn for ten years.

Cheryl Watson-Harris – Brooklyn (Districts 17, 18, 20, 21, 22)

Cheryl Watson-Harris rejoins the DOE from her position as a Network Superintendent for Boston Public Schools. She has served in that role since February 2013, helping to develop a new district structure and supervising and evaluating 16 principals. Watson-Harris previously served as a principal in Boston for 15 years, where she implemented a Community Schools model to significantly improve a struggling, high-poverty school and mentored new and aspiring principals. Watson-Harris started her teaching career in 1993 at Brooklyn’s PS 81.

Lawrence Pendergast – Queens (Districts 24, 25, 26, 30)

Lawrence Pendergast has been the Network Leader for Children’s First Network 603 since 2011, currently supporting 33 schools. He previously served as Executive Principal at Leadership and Public Service High School, where graduation rates increased over 20% during his tenure, as well as founding principal at Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction, where students experienced project-based learning while receiving guidance from architectural and engineering partners. A former Social Studies teacher and instructional specialist, Pendergast also promoted professional development and collaboration as a peer coach early in his career.

Marlene Wilks – Queens (Districts 27, 28, 29)

Marlene Wilks has served schools in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx as the leader of Children’s First Network 209 since 2007. During her time as Network Leader, she has focused on recruiting, appointing, and developing effective school leaders as well as training teachers to become highly effective in order to improve student achievement. In her 38 years in education, including 26 in service to the New York City public school community, Wilks has served as Local Instructional Superintendent in Districts 28 and 29 in Queens, principal in the South Bronx, assistant principal in District 2 in Manhattan, and as a middle school math teacher in District 32 in Brooklyn. 

Kevin Moran – Staten Island (District 31)

A longtime Staten Island resident, Kevin Moran brings nearly two decades of experience in DOE instructional and operational support to his new position. Since March 2014, he has served as the Executive Director of Field Support for the DOE’s Division of Operations, monitoring and addressing safety, health, facilities and other operations issues across the City’s 1,800 public schools. He has also served the City’s students and families as an Executive Director in the Office of School Support, a Deputy Cluster Leader, a Regional Safety Administrator, and in the District 31 Superintendent’s Office. Moran started his educational career as a teacher at Staten Island’s IS 2.

Directors currently employed by the DOE immediately begin the transition process, officially starting their new positions in July. Cheryl Watson-Harris will participate in all transition activities, and officially join the DOE in May.

For more information on Borough Field Support Centers and the new school support structure, please see Strong Schools, Strong Communities.
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