By Josayne M. Anderson

Nadine Straughn is the current principal at Columbus Elementary School in Poughkeepsie, NY. She is in her third year but is in no way new to the education system. In 1994 she began her career in education as a student teacher in New Paltz, NY. As a resident of the area, she loved New Paltz but knew the demographics and urban make up of Poughkeepsie gave her the city feel, on a smaller scale than she was used to as a native of Brooklyn, NY. Straughn found herself subbing in the Poughkeepsie School District at Smith School and after a year she was afforded the opportunity to become permanent after a teacher transferred to Texas when her husband’s job relocated. During her thirteen-year span as a classroom teacher covering grades three to five, she knew she ultimately wanted to be a principle.

By participating in the School Leadership Institute in Massachusetts offered by the Poughkeepsie School District and the opening at Poughkeepsie Middle School in 2001, her dreams were fulfilled when she accepted the lead replacement position. She took a leave of absence from her teaching position just in case this new position did not work out, as a back up. After filling this highly rewarding position for a year and a half, she came across another opening – for a principal job at Columbus Elementary School. She both eagerly and reluctantly applied for the position, because she loved the elementary school level but didn’t feel she had enough experience. Needless to say, she was hired to become the Principal at Columbus School and she is loving it.

With the new standards from the NYS Education department, Principal Straughn is ensuring her students have a fighting chance by utilizing the tools provided by the state as well as a number of additional resources. A literacy coach, a title one math teacher and the Ticket To Read program are a few of the additional resources. The Ticket To Read Program is a computer program designed to help students read. Once the students reach a certain milestone, they are rewarded with a game that re-iterates what the students learned before reaching this stage. This program is accessible at school as well as at home. Teachers are given an 80-minute time slot for reading; with the Ticket To Read program they are given an additional 40 minutes. Not only is the Ticket To Read program accessible at home, but the NYS standards are as well. This keeps both teachers and parents in the loop so everyone can stay on track and ensure the students get the necessary tools they need to progress and succeed in every area.

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