comings and goings

City begins internal review of schools' technology department

Major changes could be coming to the Department of Education’s information technology department.

DOE Chief Information Officer Ted Brodheim, who has held that position for the last four years, is leaving the department, according to an email from Chief Operating Officer Sharon Greenberger that was obtained by GothamSchools. Brodheim’s deputy, Steve Vigilante, is replacing him on an interim basis.

Greenberger’s email also indicates that, in the wake of Brodheim’s departure, she is beginning an internal review of the information technology department. Her email describes the review as “a focused analysis of the budgets, grants, consultant-usage, contracts, HR, organizational structure, space, and procurement for the division.”

The DOE did not respond today when asked why the review was being done — I’ll update when they do.

A former DOE employee who worked closely with both Brodheim and Vigilante said the change was interesting because of the mens’ backgrounds. Brodheim comes from the finance world — he was a managing director at JP Morgan before joining the DOE in 2007 — whereas Vigilante has spent much of the last 20 years in the city’s Department of Information Technology and with the DOE. Brodheim came in under former Chancellor Joel Klein; Vigilante pre-dated Klein.

The review comes at the same time that the DOE is planning to spend more on contracts with technology consultants. Though this year’s budget cut technology consultant spending by $4 million, next year’s will increase it by $24 million. DOE officials told the Daily News that the spending increase is exaggerated because they underestimated their costs for this year, so the budget will be significantly larger than originally planned.

From: Greenberger Sharon
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 3:57 PM
Subject: DIIT Organizational Update

Dear Colleagues,

I want to provide you with a brief organizational update for the Division of Instructional and Information Technology (DIIT).  First, after four years with the DOE, Ted Brodheim has decided to leave the Department this month to pursue new opportunities.  I want to thank Ted for his hard work and numerous contributions over the past several years; please join me in wishing him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

Beginning this Monday, March 7th, George Vasiliou and Kemi Akinsanya-Rose from my office will lead a short-term, internal review of DIIT to better understand its roles, functions and responsibilities and best position it to serve our collective, strategic priorities.

As part of this comprehensive organizational review, which we anticipate will take roughly 6 weeks to complete, I have asked Richard Ross and Ling Tan to work with George and Kemi in assessing the operational functions of the division.  Richard, the Director of Operations for the Division of the General Counsel, has extensive experience managing operational functions within the DOE, and Ling, a former DIIT team member, is a key business partner to DIIT in her current role as the Executive Director for Capital & Reimbursable Finance in the CFO office.  Together with George and Kemi, they will conduct a focused analysis of the budgets, grants, consultant-usage, contracts, HR, organizational structure, space, and procurement for the division.

To expedite this review, Richard will take on the temporary role as Acting Director of DIIT Operations/Administration. Effective immediately, this DIIT team will report to Richard on an interim basis. I want to thank Janine Maisano for managing this team since Sheila Raskob’s retirement in January, and thank Michael Best and Veronica Conforme for their support of this initiative.

While this review takes place, I have asked Steve Vigilante to serve as Acting CIO for the DIIT division.  Effective Monday, March 7, DIIT Operations and Applications teams will report to Steve.   Steve has great familiarity with all DIIT functions, and I thank him for his willingness to step into this interim position.

I know that I can count on all of you to provide Steve, George, Kemi, Richard, and Ling  with the support needed during this critical transition.    Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or George.

Thank you for your cooperation,

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at [email protected]

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”