Meet the Principals: John Boyle of IS34 (Staten Island, NY)

Transcription:

Glyn Caddell

All right, so I’m here with John Boyle of IS34. He graciously made some time to to sit down and tell us a little about himself, about his school, to get a better idea of what he’s all about, what the school is all about.

Principal John Boyle

We welcome you here today. We’re excited to be involved in this. I think it’s my first podcast ever, so I’m not nervous but excited at the same time. So welcome to IS34.

Glyn Caddell

Thank you. Video podcast. Let’s look. Maybe just be like video interview, I guess. All right, so we’ll just start off again. Some questions just to so parents and students can know more about you personally. So I’d like to start with a fun one.

Principal John Boyle

Okay.

 

Glyn Caddell

So what’s your spirit animal?

Principal John Boyle

I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that before, but I would say my spirit animal is a golden doodle.

Glyn Caddell

The golden doodle?

Principal John Boyle

We just got one a couple of months ago and I think he reminds me a lot of myself. He’s loyal, he’s fun to be around, and we love having him inside of family. So I think he likes to get nap every once in a while, just like me. So I think he’s a good choice to be my spirit animal.

Glyn Caddell

I agree. I have a shih-tzu. I wouldn’t say he’s my spirit animal, but I’m very jealous of his life, that’s for sure.

Principal John Boyle

I tell you, he does live a pretty good life. And we never thought we would be dog people. And we’ve become dog people really quick.

Glyn Caddell

They’re good ones to get because they don’t shed. Right?

Principal John Boyle

They don’t shed. They’re hypoallergenic and pretty low maintenance. The kids love them.

Glyn Caddell

Energetic. Yeah. Do you have like an all time favorite book?

Principal John Boyle

We read a lot of books, especially in this job. We’re always trying to keep up to date with books that kids want to read and try to find interesting choices. I just read The Outsiders and probably the second time I’ve read it in my life. And it probably is up there on my all time favorite list.

Glyn Caddell

Is there anything specific about it that I guess reexcited your love of it? You know what, I read it with.

Principal John Boyle

My son and he’s an 8th grader right now. And you know what? The way he enjoyed it really made me start to appreciate it more and how he related to the book. And it just made me feel proud that it’s a book that we’ve exposed kids to over the years. And I was happy to see that he’s reading it in a different school.

Glyn Caddell

That’s awesome. What kind of student were you like in middle school?

Principal John Boyle

I was a pretty good student in middle school. I think I fooled around a little bit. I had a lot of fun in middle school. I went to Sacred Heart on the North Shore. Small. Only 20 kids in my class.

Glyn Caddell

Definitely a lot different.

Principal John Boyle

A lot different than an 1100 person middle school that we’re in now. But I had a really good time in middle school at Ticket Heart, and some of my best years and my best friends are still there. And I look back on that really fond memories.

Glyn Caddell

Is there like a specific teacher that was like, your best teacher at that time?

Principal John Boyle

My 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Morrisco, was one of my all time favorites. And I remember when I was first starting off in education classes at St. John’s, I went back to observe her classroom and she welcomed me back. And I appreciated that.

Glyn Caddell

That’s pretty awesome. Did you arrange it yourself or you.

Principal John Boyle

Just happened to in your first couple of years of Ed classes, they actually make you go out and find places to go?

Glyn Caddell

Okay.

Principal John Boyle

And at least they did a long time ago. And I went back to where I knew I was strong, back to my Sacred Heart days and they welcomed me back and I appreciated that.

Glyn Caddell

That’s awesome. It’s good to have that connection.

Principal John Boyle

It is. You know what? We stayed close for a long time. She passed away a couple of years ago, but she was a great lady.

Glyn Caddell

Sorry to hear that. Thinking back to staying with the middle school, thinking back to 7th grade, it’s a little difficult question because normally you get a question like what advice you give yourself when you’re 18 or 21. But what advice would you give yourself as 7th grader yet?

Principal John Boyle

You know what’s funny? We were just upstairs, I just did, just finished pizza with the principal, with some six 7th and 8th grade classes, and we were asking our older kids what advice would they give incoming 6th graders? And their advice was interesting. One of the girls said, don’t get involved in the drama. Right. And I don’t think that’s the case necessarily for boys. Boys sometimes are oblivious, might be gender specific. A lot of times the drama passes us by because we’re not always paying attention. But I think my advice to a middle schooler now would be to show up and get involved. Always find a way to find where you belong. Find your niche, find your group of friends, and don’t be afraid to expand your horizons and try new things. Get comfortable. Being uncomfortable is something we say to our sports teams all the time. I think that’s good advice for a middle school student. Be comfortable being uncomfortable because when you’re uncomfortable, that’s when you learn.

Glyn Caddell

That’s a good point. And I think sometimes you miss out on opportunities because they might be scared or intimidated or afraid to take it. I want to do this, but I don’t really know much about it. But that’s how people learn.

Principal John Boyle

I think that’s exposing yourself to new things and being open to the possibilities that come along that path.

Glyn Caddell

Speaking of sports, it’s hard not to notice the sports memorabilia around here. I think that’s a Lou Gehrig picture. Don Mattingly sign.

Principal John Boyle

Big Yankee fan around here.

Glyn Caddell

No trade and play like a champion. Yeah. This, like, nice football over here with a message on it. Who’s that from?

Principal John Boyle

This is a ball that we got from Roger Staubach. I’m a giant fan. He accepted the Dallas gift. Regardless, we’ll thank him for his service with the Naval Academy, and we’ll think about him following him that way rather than as a Cowboy. But he stopped by here a couple of years ago. We were able to connect with him to a parent. And then one of our teachers at the time, Joe Leone, was a big Cowboy fan, and we were able to get a sign ball for him, which meant a lot more to him than I think it did to me as a Giant fan. But we were appreciated to have a hall of Famer around.

Glyn Caddell

Yeah.

Principal John Boyle

To get involved.

Glyn Caddell

Just successful overall. I think he has a really successful real estate business.

Principal John Boyle

I think one of probably the most successful people outside of his sports years.

Glyn Caddell

Right.

Principal John Boyle

Amazing football career and then an amazing citizen and grew forward 100% Naval Academy days. More than his cowboy days. Yeah.

Glyn Caddell

Well, what’s his name? Was it Landry? Was the coach. He was pretty strict. Also.

Principal John Boyle

He came from the Giants at some point, too.

Glyn Caddell

I didn’t know that.

Principal John Boyle

Yeah, he’s a long time Giant before he took over at the Cowboys.

Glyn Caddell

This is now a sports podcast.

Principal John Boyle

We’ve changed direction.

Glyn Caddell

All right, going back to you and more specifically, your school and your role as a principal, what are some programs or activities or resources that are available here that you’re really proud of and you think kind of separates you from other schools?

Principal John Boyle

A couple of things that stand out to me is our commitment to the arts. We have a thriving band program, a thriving chorus program, art classes. But we also then dip our toes into the water on staff and technology and getting kids exposed to whatever path they choose, giving them their voice and their choice as to what art and technology class they might want to pursue. When they are in fifth grade, we ask them to give us a couple of choices on what they might like to do in their three years here at Ions 34. Then at our open house, we expose them to those classes and give them a chance to make a choice. And it’s not always the case that you get your first choice, but we’ll always guarantee you’ll get your first or your second choice. And lately, Stem has really taken off. The demand for it is huge. We’ve had to add a second teacher over the last couple of years, and we’re really proud of the work that’s happening in there. And I think when you come to our open house or you visit Is 34, one of the places you need to stop by is our Stem lab.

Principal John Boyle

If you want to check it out later.

Glyn Caddell

Yeah, I love to stop by. What kind of work do they do in Stem lab?

Principal John Boyle

All hands on work. And then we look at all the different careers in the engineering field. So we do something called 33 and 33. So over 33 weeks in school, they visit 33 different careers in Stem and get a chance to see if they want to pursue city planning or if they want to pursue space exploration or whatever it may be.

Glyn Caddell

It could be a huge thing. I think in the future the job.

Principal John Boyle

Market is huge and going to even expand more over the next few years. So I think giving them that pathway to success and exposing them to careers that might come down the line and maybe that haven’t even been thought of yet could be something that’s really cool for our kids.

Glyn Caddell

Yeah. I think five years ago you joke and say, like, what are you, a rocket scientist? I think there’s going to be a big market for rocket scientists.

Principal John Boyle

They keep following this path with normal people getting an opportunity to go into space. It’s something that could be wild.

Glyn Caddell

Yeah. How do you think your students would describe you?

Principal John Boyle

I think I’m a pretty outright I think they’d be pretty honest if they describe this. I think I’m pretty present in the building and pretty hands on. I try to know as many names as I can. With 1100 students, I’m never going to remember everybody’s name, but I’m really good at their faces and I see them. I’m a native Staten Islander, so I see them all around Staten Island as I go to basketball games or go to the mall or go to the deli. I run into kids in your everyday life and I think it’s a pretty friendly person, pretty happy to see them. I think what makes me smile is if I’m outside of the building and I see them wearing is 34 gear, that tells me that we’re doing something right because they’re proud to wear our colors and we call it the shield. They’re proud to wear our shield.

Glyn Caddell

When they walk around, I see the shield also.

Principal John Boyle

I do too, when I go to the mall, which isn’t often, but if I do go to the mall, I do see a lot of kids rocking their eyes. 34 gear.

Glyn Caddell

That’s awesome.

Principal John Boyle

That’s important to me because that means that they’re proud to come to school here. And I think that’s something that we try to foster, right? That sense of belonging, that sense of pride in school, that sense of kind of brotherhood or sisterhood and looking out for each other, it means a lot to us.

Glyn Caddell

That’s awesome. Does that feel good to see that?

Principal John Boyle

It definitely does. I love it. It’s one of my proudest moments. When we walk around. I point it out to anybody who listens.

Glyn Caddell

What about the teachers? How would they describe you again?

Principal John Boyle

I think pretty hands on, pretty involved. Sometimes the life of the principal traps you in your office, but I try to get myself out and about, around the building. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been here for a really long time. So with the exception of very few people I’ve hired, almost every person that works here, or was at least involved in their hiring process when I was an assistant principal. So I think we’ve created a pretty strong family environment here. We kind of celebrate each other. We look out for each other, we have each other’s backs. I always tell them that they’re the best in the business. And I think it’s important for us to recognize the good work that they do and to know that our school is successful because of how strong our staff is. And you know what? That goes beyond just teaching staff. It goes to our paraprofessionals, the pride our custodians take in this building, our kitchen workers, our school aides, our secretaries. This is an amazing place, and we really are lucky to have the staff that we have. And I would hope our staff would say that their leader is someone who looks out for them.

Glyn Caddell

Yeah, it’s awesome, because when we have happy staff, it shows. I think the students recognize it and it makes teaching a lot easier.

Principal John Boyle

Yeah, I think a lot of schools suffer with turnover, and that’s not something that we struggle with. There’s a demand to get in here rather than a demand to leave.

Glyn Caddell

So you mentioned you’re a big part of the hiring of the majority of the staff here, and I guess that’s because you’ve been the principal for about twelve years now, right?

Principal John Boyle

Yeah, this is our 12th year.

Glyn Caddell

And you were the assistant principal before then?

Principal John Boyle

Yes, I started here at Is 34 on Valentine’s Day of 2005.

Glyn Caddell

My company was founded on Valentine’s. No, I really when I got the thing in the mail, I was like, man, my wife’s not going to be happy.

Principal John Boyle

I feel like I’m lucky that it was Valentine’s Day because it was like February 4. I would never remember. Right. I would remember. I started here on Valentine’s Day of February of 2005. So a really long time.

Glyn Caddell

That’s awesome. Really.

Principal John Boyle

And you know what? That’s I think one of the things that’s made Is 34 successful over the years is there isn’t a huge there haven’t been 15 principals in 15 years. There have been five in 50.

Glyn Caddell

Right.

Principal John Boyle

And I think that stability goes a long way to making a school successful. And my predecessors laid a really strong foundation, and I take pride in building on their good work. And I hope that someday somebody takes the ball from where we left it and they keep running forward.

Glyn Caddell

That’s awesome. Did you always want to be a principal?

Principal John Boyle

I don’t think so. I think I wanted to be a basketball player most of my life. And then you realize that’s not going to happen.

Glyn Caddell

I wanted to be a quarterback. I think I’m like a foot too short.

Principal John Boyle

I grew a lot between 7th and 8th grade, and I was like, I’m going to be six nine, and I ended up at six four, which is all right, but six nine would have been a lot better since my pro career. But then I started to as I got into college, I was doing a lot of coaching at the high school level and working a lot of summer camps. And that kind of lended itself to becoming a teacher. And I guess when you’re kind of my size, sometimes the principals and leaders in buildings when you’re young start to grab you and say, you know what, go run the cafeteria.

Glyn Caddell

Right.

Principal John Boyle

You go the new dean, right? And then it led to more and more leadership opportunities. The reason I ended up here at Is 34 is because there was an assistant principals meeting at Is Seven, and I was the dean at the time, and somebody put like, a piece of paper in one of the ovens in cooking class, and it caused like, a smoke situation that we had to evacuate the building. Just a regular fire drill, it turned out to be.

Glyn Caddell

Right?

Principal John Boyle

But the assistant principal from here at the time saw kind of the way we handled ourselves during the evacuation drill, and she came back and told Jeff Preston that I did a pretty good job.

Glyn Caddell

And the rest was it wasn’t a plan drill. People probably read that there was a fire.

Principal John Boyle

Somebody thought it was pretty funny to put a piece of paper into the oven and see what this advantage, but you know what? It ends up being the best piece of paper that it could have been. Really worked out perfect for me. Yeah, I couldn’t be happier.

Glyn Caddell

That’s pretty funny. As cool as that is, I doubt that’s, like, your proudest moment. If you had to look back, is there a specific moment that you’re extremely proud of from your career?

Principal John Boyle

There was a boy who went to school here named John Hudson Dulgen, lived across the street and for his whole life growing up, his brothers and sisters came to school here and he was wheelchair balanced. He has a disease called EB, which is harder to say, so we’ll stick with the initials. And he wasn’t able to get into this building, and he wasn’t able to go to school where his brothers and sisters went to school. So he was a champion for himself and a champion for other kids with special needs. And him and his family pursued the idea of making Is 34 fully accessible, fully accessible to all people. And we weren’t right. Our our building was built in 1935, right? Our doorways were small, our staircases was small. At the EDA adopted, we were not EDA compatible or even compatible at the time. And he took it upon himself to be a champion for other kids, and we partnered with him. And one of my proudest moments as the principal was we were able to do a ribbon cutting ceremony on our two elevators that we put in the building with his help, and he was able to ride the elevator with us and go upstairs.

Principal John Boyle

And we had a ceremony up on the third floor at our gym, and I think we clapped him in as he was wheeled into the gym that morning. And that’s probably my proudest moment as principal. That’s really awesome, figuring out through a lot of red tape and a lot of hard work, how to probably get anything done in the city fully accessible. It took about six years, and he never got to ride an elevator here as a student. We gave him all first four classes, but we were able to get a ramp installed outside so that he was able to get into the building every day. We were created with the schedule, and we promised him that, you know, one day those elevators would be built, and they were. And he was able to come back here and do the ribbon cutting for us. So that’s something I’ll never forget and something I’ll always remember. We have a great picture somewhere in here of the groundbreaking ceremony that he was able to be at and then the ribbon cutting ceremony for when he got to ride the elevators five or six years later.

Glyn Caddell

So he was able to attend here.

Principal John Boyle

Just like he never saw the second or third floor.

Glyn Caddell

Okay.

Principal John Boyle

Or the basement.

Glyn Caddell

But still, that was a big change because the first seat that had no.

Principal John Boyle

Access yes, we were able to get a ramp built outside, first of all, a temporary one, and then a more permanent structure as time went on. And that led to the whole entire building being Ada compliant. And we are fully accessible. And we always say no child love would be turned away from here again.

Glyn Caddell

Wow, that’s awesome.

Principal John Boyle

We’re really cool and really proud of and we have a great picture outside the elevator vestibule of John cutting the ribbon and the advanced article that pursued with it, and it was really cool.

Glyn Caddell

That’s awesome. We’ll add that in.

Principal John Boyle

We’ll show her I’ll show you the space.

Glyn Caddell

Yeah, that’s really cool.

Principal John Boyle

Sure. I think the idea of and we’re very lucky with the community we have, but overall, city wide, are there enough computers that are in houses citywide does everybody have equal access to Internet connections? Internet connections? High speed Internet devices in their homes. I mean, almost everybody has a cell phone, right? And you could get by that way, but there are times where you need that keyboard, you need that screen. You need to be able to, I guess, broaden your opportunities there. And that’s something I think the city needs to make sure is happening in everybody’s home. And I think that’s super important.

Glyn Caddell

So access is probably the biggest obstacle right now.

Principal John Boyle

Yeah, I think Access Citywide is a huge one. And you know what? Even in a little niche here in Tottenville, you can’t assume yeah. You can assume that everybody has equal access. So we do our best. If somebody needs something, we try to figure out a way to make sure we can get that into the right person’s hands.

Glyn Caddell

Yeah. I mean, talking about working on your phone if I use my laptop and I don’t use my mouse, it’s, like, so frustrating. Everything takes twice as long.

Principal John Boyle

No, forget it. I still feel like I can run my building from my phone sometimes, but but I miss my computer when I.

Glyn Caddell

When I sit down, I make mistakes. When I use my phone, I’m a.

Principal John Boyle

Lot faster, but I’m a lot faster from my desk than I am from my phone. I feel like I’m guessing, second guessing myself and squinting and all my glasses on whatever it may be. So, yeah, definitely that access to a computer is huge.

Glyn Caddell

All right, awesome. Thank you. I guess just to wrap it up, just ask another silly question. What’s the last TV show that you binge watched?

Principal John Boyle

You know what? At the gym, I watch. And I might not look like I go to the gym, but I do go to the gym. I watch my different series on my phone. So right now I’m watching the crown.

Glyn Caddell

Okay.

Principal John Boyle

I just finished rewatching Breaking Bad, which is one of my all time faves.

Glyn Caddell

I’m only, like, halfway through that, so good.

Principal John Boyle

My second time watching that. But yeah, right now I’m into the crown. This season is not my favorite so far, but I feel like I’m pot committed, and I have to finish it out. And my wife and I are watching the Mosquito Coast on Mosquito Coast.

Glyn Caddell

Okay.

Principal John Boyle

Which is kind of a remake. It’s been around I think Harrison Ford made a movie about it sometime, like.

Glyn Caddell

The I did check that out. I didn’t even hear about that.

Principal John Boyle

Pretty cool. Pretty cool show.

Glyn Caddell

Awesome. All right, thank you. Thank you for your time. Yeah.

Principal John Boyle

A lot of fun. I’m looking forward to see how this looks on TV.

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