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New Schools Chancellor Asks Staff to Help Bring Joy Back Into System

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In her first speech at the Department of Education, Chancellor Carmen Fariña asked staff to help her bring joy back into the system. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

As Carmen Fariña addressed her new staff, assembled in the balconies and stairwells of the old Tweed Courthouse, her voice caught with emotion.

The new schools chancellor told hundreds of Department of Education staff members that she has two books' worth of ideas ready to turn into policy.

"What I was worried is, 'Where is my army?' And here you are, all of you here, so thank you so much," she said.

Fariña said she's in the process of meeting with each central staff member, ideally one on one, to go over what's working and what isn't. She asked for better communication and more collaboration. As far as specific policies, the chancellor asked for a bit more time.

"This is only my third day, so I didn't part the waters yet," she said.

Kelly Shannon, the principal of P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village, came to hear the speech, saying she's one of many educators who have long considered Fariña a mentor.

"All of the principals I've spoken with are thrilled that Carmen will be running the school system and are thrilled to be working with her, and to learn with and from her," Shannon said.

When it comes to the staff at the Department of Education headquarters, it remains to be seen whether Fariña will replace some of the most senior deputies, those who helped write and put in place the policies of the previous administration.

In particular, many wonder whether she'll keep Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky, second in command for the past three years. Polakow-Suransky is responsible for policies that the new mayor plans to scrap, like the A through F school report card grades, but he has said he's open to changes under a new administration.

Last week, Fariña was asked whether she wanted him to stay.

"At this moment, there have been no decisions made about any personnel issues," she said.

Fariña will continue to receive her DOE pension, which, combined with her new $212,000 salary, means she'll take home more than $412,000 per year, a total compensation that's nearly double the paycheck of Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio, though, said that his new chancellor is worth every penny.

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