Kenneth Bonamo will begin his first year as s new principal in a few weeks. Bonamo, 36, grew up on Staten Island and attended Staten Island Technical High School. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a BA in Russian, and Kean University with a MA in Educational Administration. In an interview with Patch, he answered some of our questions about himself, the future of SHS and education today.
What is your background in education? How will these experiences help you as the principal of Scarsdale High School (SHS)?
I worked for 14 years as a teacher and administrator in two of New York City's top high schools, Staten Island Technical High School, my alma mater, and Townsend Harris High School. At Staten Island Tech, I was a teacher of Russian and Social Studies, the Student Activities Coordinator and a humanities department chair. I was the principal of Townsend Harris from 2008-2012. I had the opportunity to work with talented and motivated students in both schools, and I think this gives me good preparation for working with the students at Scarsdale.
What led you to a career in teaching and administrative work?
I've always liked teaching. I was a good student, for the most part, and I volunteered to teach young children while I was still in high school. My friends would often ask me to tutor them. After college, I started substitute-teaching at Staten Island Tech, and I was hired for a full-time position within three months. I absolutely loved being in the classroom–and I still do.
What are you looking forward to at SHS?
I am looking forward to working with an extraordinarily talented and dedicated faculty and staff and working with students who have so many different talents and interests. I am excited to be a part of a district that has been a beacon for the rest of the state and the country.
What improvements do you plan to make at SHS?
I think it's too soon to say. I certainly need some time working in the school to find areas where we have some room to grow. The challenge is always providing resources for different teachers and groups of teachers to experiment and innovate.
How do you plan to connect with students, faculty, and the Scarsdale community?
I've invited students and teachers during the summer to drop by my office for some informal conversations, and the PTA leadership has been very generous in providing some settings to get to know one another. As the school year starts, I'm sure there will be many opportunities for me to meet and get to know more members of the community.
How do you plan to uphold SHS's motto "non sibi"?
I think we need to think about how what we learn and what we do can benefit others. How can we channel our energies and passions into endeavors that ultimately help others?
What do you think of education today?
I think there are many challenges facing us. The two most pressing have to do with teacher evaluation and educational innovation. In other words, how should teachers be evaluated and on what basis? And, how do we need to change what we do to meet the needs of the 21st century, in terms of global interconnectedness, technology and interdisciplinary learning? The careers and challenges of the world in 20 years are unknown to us today, yet we must educate our students to prepare for them.
What interests you outside of education?
I love to travel, to go to the theater and to read. As a former AP US Government teacher, I'm a bit of a politics junkie.