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During this extraordinary time when New York City’s educators are working closely with students and families from the confines of their homes, we will be publishing a series of posts describing their experiences in their own words. We are now #DOEconnected!

Follow our hashtag, #DOEconnected, join the conversation, and connect online with your neighbors across the City. Share stories of how you, your child, a teacher, or a school community member has become your hero. Remember, not all heroes wear capes.


Justine Lucas, principal of P.S. 143 Louis Armstrong in Queens

“Our village is strong. We learn together, laugh at our blunders, remain committed, and troubleshoot together. Nothing will get in our way of creating bright futures.”

Justine Lucas with a lion at her desk

As the metaphoric ship of P.S. 143 embarks on the remote school journey, creating an inclusive environment “where it is safe to express concerns, collaborate, and thrive” is critical for Principal Lucas and her staff members. Their key to navigating and moving forward is their cycle of mutual respect, love, and appreciation.

Principal Lucas acknowledges the importance of social-emotional learning and activities, and makes it a priority for both her students and her staff members. “Children cannot tackle the core academics if they feel worried, concerned, or stressed. And the same goes for adults.” She makes sustained efforts to “de-escalate their fears, nurture their strengths, and fearlessly support (her) teachers to the greatest extent.”

“Our solution-oriented and ‘no excuse’ mentality to excellence helps us resolve 100% of the problems within our control and a very high percentage of things that are not in our control.” Principal Lucas leads her crew by example, consistently modelling the behavior and practices she wants to encourage in her school community. Her commitment to her role inspires her staff take charge, turn the key, and go the extra mile.

Snapshot of Principal Lucas' phone during videoconference

“My staff knows that I am their biggest fan and supporter. We are in this together and the ideas that have evolved from the passionate staff engages students meaningfully through teleconferences, Flipgrid, livestreams, and more.”

Principal Lucas is proud that their “passion for equity and excellence remains high”, and P.S. 143 staff are working together “to donate our unused devices, garnering community support for donations, and constantly being resourceful.”

The remote learning journey of P.S. 143 is a testament to the fortitude of their community. “Everything that happens within a school is largely an extension of the principal and the leadership team.” Principal Lucas and her team steer the P.S.143 ship in the right direction, creating systems that work best for them and their community as they sail along their remote learning journey.

Justine Lucas is emblematic of how New York City’s educators are adapting to these unprecedented times on behalf of our students and families. We thank all of our staff members for helping us all stay #DOEconnected

The Morning Bell

Official blog for the NYC Department of Education, home of over 1.1 million students across 1,800+ schools

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NYC Department of Education, 2019