Randy Lichtenwalner '11
Randy Lichtenwalner is the principal at Dows Lane Elementary School (after serving as assistant principal at Washington Irving Elementary School) in Irvington, but he wasn’t always an educator. Before he started his career in education, he worked for several years as an administrator in Off-Broadway theater. Before long, though, he learned that education was where he wanted to be, and started his career in education through the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. When Randy decided to further his career and studies in education, he chose Bank Street’s Future School Leaders Academy (FSLA).
“I chose Bank Street for several reasons,” he states, “first and foremost is Bank Street’s reputation in the field of progressive education. That, coupled with the convenience of the (Westchester-based) program and the fieldwork component made FSLA a standout in the field for me.”
Bank Street prepared Randy “for anything and everything.” When he was reaching the end of his time in the Bank Street program, he found himself in the position of actually being a finalist for several positions in diverse school districts across the spectrum—from an urban charter school to a high performing suburban district.
Randy’s most memorable moment as an educator actually started in his first year teaching, and came full circle this year. As a first year teacher, he had a student in his class that he tried to reach, seemingly to no avail. In the years that followed, he grew concerned as he heard about the problems he was having in middle school. But then everything changed. The next time he heard from this so-called problem student was when that student contacted him to say he was accepted into one of the most competitive middle schools in his community. Randy was shocked and happy all at the same time, but needed to know exactly how all this happened.
“He told me that when his parents and all of his teachers gave up on him, and he realized how far deep he had fallen, he remembered how I always told him that he could do great things if he set his mind to it.” This student wasn’t a traditional candidate for that middle school, and no one but Randy had believed in him. And this year, Randy heard from him again—when the student sent him a thank you note after graduating from college.
“Proud doesn’t begin to describe the feeling,” he says.
Profile by Dana Rossi