New York City Public Schools Administrator Honored as NYS Outstanding Educator

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Donna Bonanno

ALBANY, NY (03/21/2024) (readMedia)-- ALBANY, NY (03/08/2024) (readMedia)-- ALBANY, NY – Donna Bonanno, principal of the Alice Austen School of New York City Public Schools, has been selected for the 2024 Outstanding Educator Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given annually to a SAANYS member who has made outstanding contributions in New York State schools through public education, professional organizations, or research and/or writing in the field of education.

Bonanno serves on the NYS Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures, saying that her work "involves contributing my expertise to enhance educational standards, promote student success and shape policies that positively impact graduation rates." She adds that serving on the commission "signifies a commitment to improving the educational setting and ensuring better outcomes for students."

Integral to her accomplishments with improving student outcomes is her work with the Collective Efficacy initiative. Bonanno explains that collective efficacy is "a shared belief that the school's staff can have a positive impact on student achievement, despite other influences in the students' lives that challenge their success." She adds that collective efficacy "is evident when teachers see themselves as part of a team working for their students."

Recently, the commissioner of the New York State Education Department, Dr. Betty Rosa, visited PS 60 and observed collective efficacy in action. She then asked Bonanno and the Alice Austen School to be the first lab site in New York City. The NYS Education Department Chancellor, Dr. Lester Young, and Regent Christine Cea then visited PS 60 "to solidify our community as a lab site school and highlight collective efficacy."

Bonanno says that "this initiative will allow school leaders to support rigorous curriculum, instruction, and assessment to embody high expectations for student learning. Students will have equitable access to learning opportunities, as well as academic and social supports for pursuits of greater knowledge." Taking the collective efficacy initiative "beyond state, city, and district," Bonanno presented at the 2023 ASCD Annual Conference in Colorado, speaking on "The Equity Project: Developing and Elevating Student Voice and Agency to Impact School Culture, Climate, and the Instructional Core."

Brigitte McCue, assistant principal for PS 60, the Alice Austen School, says that Bonanno's work and accomplishments embody "the qualities of an outstanding educational leader. Her visionary approach to education has transformed our school into a thriving, inclusive, and nurturing environment for both students and staff. Under her leadership, our school has seen remarkable improvements in student achievement, parent and community engagement, and overall school culture."

McCue adds that one of Bonanno's "greatest strengths is her ability to foster a sense of unity and collaboration among teachers, staff, and students. Her open-door policy and willingness to listen to diverse perspectives have created a school environment where every voice is heard and valued. This sense of inclusivity has had a profound impact on our school community, resulting in improved student morale and a more harmonious learning atmosphere."

Added Peter McNally, executive director of NYS Federation of School Administrators, "Donna has been a master educator and child advocate since her first year as a first grade teacher to the present as an Outstanding Principal."

Bonanno has been active in education in the state of New York since 1999. She has served as principal for PS 60 since 2014. She received her bachelor's degree from the College of Staten Island, her master's degree from Hunter College, and an advanced studies diploma from the College of Saint Rose.

Bonanno and fellow 2024 award winners will be recognized at SAANYS' annual awards celebration, taking place on May 3 at the Saratoga Hilton.

SAANYS represents nearly 22,000 school administrators, supervisors, and retiree leaders. As a professional association, SAANYS is committed to providing direction, service, and support to the membership in their efforts to improve the quality of education and leadership in New York State schools. SAANYS is affiliated with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).