Yolanda Jones-Generette: A Leader Who Goes Above and Beyond

Article 8_Member Spotlight

Yolanda Jones-Generette, a member of School Administrators Association of New Haven, AFSA Local 18, exemplifies being a hardworking leader with many accomplishments during her 22 years of serving the New Haven Public Schools district.

Her longtime career in education, including teaching experience in early child education, led her to serve as assistant principal for Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School (BESMS) for six years from 2009 to 2013, and as principal for two years, from 2014–2016.

One of Jones-Generette’s prouder accomplishments during her time as principal at BESMS was helping the school achieve double-digit growth with District Interim Math Assessments scores during the 2015–2016 school year. As a result of new initiatives created by Jones-Generette, students in grades three through eight doubled their scores, as measured at the beginning and end of the year.

During the school year Jones-Generette wanted to find ways to improve core instruction in math. She sought out retired teachers to hire as weekly in-class math tutors to help students who were not performing as well as their peers, which proved to be successful, especially for students at risk.

Additionally, every Friday during morning announcements there would be a timed math problem of the day to prepare the children for the assessments. Once time was up, the math problem would be reviewed and the students could go over their responses with their class.

The Department of Education invited BESMS to participate in a study and, as a participant in the study, BESMS was given an instructional coach and onsite professional development to support teachers with setting weekly learning goals, as well as methods for helping their students set math learning goals.

Through this initiative, students felt empowered to set a new goal each week and to build on their success. Teachers looked at students’ work samples to further support them in expanding their personal goals.

Students took ownership of their own learning, consistently reaching out for support when it was needed, and repeatedly setting goals for themselves. Jones-Generette and her teachers saw great strides being made by their students.

Other initiatives Jones-Generette helped implement at BESMS include:

  • A family resource room in the school for parents to come visit during the school day and spend time with their children.
  • Updated technology, including a new computer for every teacher and 95 Chromebooks for grades five through eight. A new computer lab also was created.
  • Enhanced communication between teachers and parents by introducing a new school website, which allowed teachers the chance to write blogposts. The daily blogs inform parents on different activities and upcoming events, and offer a summary of what is going on in the school.
  • An Instagram account to display pictures of learning.
  • Classroom observations with meaningful 24-hour feedback for teachers.
  • A broader focus on environmental studies for all grades by creating an Environmentalist Team.
  • A garden and outdoor schoolyard habitat created to serve as an outdoor classroom. Student courtyard gardens allow students to work on and develop themed gardens that include spices, vegetables, fruits, flowers and many other plants—an outstanding ecosystem on school grounds.