P.S. 71 welcomes notable alumnus as Principal For A Day

DOE School’s Chancellor Joel Klein (above) addresses students at P.S. 71 on Thursday, October 16 during the school’s Principal for a Day event. Photo by Victor Chu

As part of an innovative program that matches up great role models with our city’s public schools, Department of Education Schools Chancellor Joel Klein came to P.S. 71, welcoming a notable alumnus of the school, the president of a cable news network.

Chancellor Klein and CNN’s president Jon Klein visited the school on Thursday, October 16 as part of an innovative effort called “Principal for a Day” that draws from a talent pool of nearly 600 CEO’s, civic leaders, and celebrities who have participated in the program during its 14-year existence.

Jon Klein, who graduated from P.S. 71, came to the school to dedicate a new school-broadcasting center his network donated to his alma mater and to be interviewed by sixth-grader Andrew Grell and other student reporters at the school. Jon Klein later joined School’s Chancellor Klein for a question and answer session with students in the school auditorium.

“You just have to know what you are, and what you want to do,” Jon Klein said, when offering advice to the students. “What I learned was how to get along with people who don’t look like us, think like us, and talk like us.”

Jon Klein said to the PNN student reporters, as well as the rest of the student body, that one of the key things he learned at P.S. 71 was how to get along well with others. He also stressed the importance of college education in today’s highly competitive business and job markets.

“Keep focusing on going to college,” Jon Klein said to the students. “It will make a huge difference in your life.”

Jon Klein recounted how he started in the news business as a writer for television news magazines and then moved onto producing and finally managing news divisions. He also stressed the importance, especially with the very heated presidential debate stirring up sharp options across the country, of politically independent journalism.

“It is really important that we as journalists keep our opinions to ourselves,” Jon Klein said. “That way the public does not get information that is twisted one way or another.

School’s Chancellor Klein also recounted how he moved up the ladder in his career and gave the students some advice from his years of experience.

“Sometime opportunities come along when you don’t expect them,” Joel Klein said. “I have had amazing jobs in my lifetime, but non of them are as rewarding as being chancellor. I have always said that I have never worked a day in my life – because I have always worked at what I want to do.”

Principal for a Day is organized by PENCIL, a non-profit group that works to transform NYC public schools by creating long-term partnerships between the private sector and New York City public school principals.

“Principal for a day is especially meaningful this year,” said PENCIL president Michael Haberman. “Despite the current economic challenges, business leaders remain committed to our program. The fact that each and every one of these Principals for a Day visits will become a long-term partnership speaks volumes to the foresight of these business leaders.”

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