BY TRONE DOWD
School District 29 has a new educator taking the helm this September. In an interview with the Press of Southeast Queens, she said that she is excited to secure bright futures for the community’s children.
Beverly Mitchell, a long-time educator in Southeast Queens’ School District 29, was recently named interim superintendent following the exit of her predecessor, Lenon Murray, after he was accused of sexual harassment in May. Mitchell, with only the summer to prepare for her new role, has wasted no time redirecting the schools that she will oversee toward new horizons.
“We want people to know that we are on the same page—that we are on a positive upward trajectory,” Mitchell said.
She detailed her extensive career in education, which spans two decades. Mitchell said she takes great pride that her tenure in the field has taken place entirely within the confines of the 29th school district.
“This has been my home,” she said.
Starting in 1997, after eight years in social work, Mitchell started her work with the Department of Education at PS 134 in St. Albans. She would stay at the school as an educator for four years before moving on to PS 38 in Rosedale. At the Rosedale elementary school, she was a math coach for a year.
After her stint at PS 38, she attended the NYC Leadership Academy where she received principal training for a year. In 2005, her work in learning school leadership paid off when she became principal of PS 37 in Jamaica. She would stay at the school for a decade before becoming the principal leadership facilitator of District 29 in 2015. She would hold that post until earlier this year when she was asked to become superintendent.
Mitchell told the Press of Southeast Queens that her main focus for the upcoming year is restructuring and reenergizing school leadership and its various education strategies.
“We want to provide more technic tasks and better education to all our students,” Mitchell said. “I’m including out students with disabilities and our English language learners too. We need to do a better job all around.”
One of the initiatives she intends to pursue includes using strategies typically reserved for gifted and talented classes for all middle schools in the 29th district. Mitchell will also focus on improving math skills across the board.
She pointed out that, last year, the district worked with a program known as Generation Ready to improve reading and writing proficiency. She said that the program has led to quantifiable improvements on citywide test scores. She hopes to replicate that kind of success in the math department in District 29.
Mitchell has published a monthly newsletter known as D29 Shine in order to keep families informed on what is taking place in the district. She also said that she will launch a user-friendly website for families in the district by September.
“These things will be highlighting information for parents and spotlighting our schools and what they have to offer,” Mitchell said.
She also said that she wants to see greater transparency in the district.
“We want people to know that real work is being done,” she said. “We want people to lose the notion of what they know District 29 to be and come see and experience what is current.”
She said that she was excited to see a new beginning for the Southeast Queens school district.
“I am truly excited to work with the great leaders in the district,” she said. “We have clear expectations that we are laying out there. This is the journey and this is how we are going to get there.”
District 29 is made up of 35 elementary and middle schools in the neighborhoods of St. Albans, Queens Village, Laurelton, Cambria Heights, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Bellerose, Briarwood and Brookville.