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Farina Visits Bronx School on First Day as Chancellor

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It was the first day of school for new Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, and she spent the day meeting her new staff and visiting a school in the Bronx. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Carmen Farina entered the Department of Education headquarters for the first time as chancellor Thursday with a children's book in her hand.

The obvious symbolism is that she was an elementary school teacher and principal for decades, in sharp contrast to her predecessors and many of the deputies who remain.

Farina's goals for the school system are no less lofty than those of the more business-minded Bloomberg administration, and above the colorful picture, the book's title sends a not-so-subtle message to the 133,000 people who now work for her.

"My book of the month is 'We Will Make Miracles,' and I can't wait to start," she said.

Farina smiled as she entered the Department headquarters, but it was nothing compared to the joyful expression on her face a few hours later when she entered a school, M.S. 223 in the Bronx. The principal is one of many the new chancellor knows well.

Teachers got hugs, one mid-lesson. Students got brief words of encouragement in two languages.

The lifelong educator surprised her new press staff by offering several quick, impromptu lessons to the reporters and photographers trailing her.

"As you hear the noise around the room, that's good. I only like schools where kids are talking and buzzing," Farina said.

Farina, whose appointment was just announced Monday, said that she's focused on meeting her new staff and listening, not making immediate changes.

She said she choose M.S. 223 for a reason.

"One of the things I really want to focus on, particularly this first year, are middle schools," she said.

She won't be the first. Chancellor Dennis Walcott's first major policy was a middle-school reform plan, and in 2007, Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg also announced a middle-school reform plan alongside the City Council.

Farina said she needs some time before she'll have any specifics.

"It's the first day on the job," she said. "Once we kind of figure this all out, we'll get back to you."

She did announce one small policy change. She said that being called chancellor gave her the shivers, and so, breaking with tradition, she asked that she be referred to as Carmen going forward.

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