Miss Minort-Kale’s Advice: ‘Decide What You Want and Ignore Most of the Rest of It’

Miss Minort-Kales Advice: Decide What You Want and Ignore Most of the Rest of It

The Wilby Emerald interviewed Miss Jeannine Minort-Kale, vice principal at Wilby High School. Taliyah Trueheart conducted the interview.

 What is your general impression of Wilby High School?

“I’m not new to Wilby as a school. I am coming from central office, which is the downtown education department. I was the secondary mathematics supervisor for, I don’t know, a year-and-a-half, so Wilby was the school I was at most frequently.

I just found the students to be funny and engaging. I found the teachers to be passionate about what they do, and I’m a big fan of the administrative team, so I left that job and came here.”

Would you be interested in telling us a little bit more about your background and how you became a principal? Also what was your path to get to this prestigious position?

“So I have my bachelors and masters in economics. I wanted to make money because I didn’t grow up with much, so oftentimes when you don’t grow up with much, your goal is to get more. I didn’t want to become a teacher because I thought that was poor people’s work, so I became a financial advisor, basically a licensed stock broker.

“And when I was a financial advisor, I think I lasted like a month before I realized I didn’t want to sell people things they didn’t need so I can be rich ..call it a ‘crisis of conscience.’ I then became a New York City teaching fellow. NYC is short on several teachers in certain subjects, and so if you have a related degree, you can become a math teacher, (which I did) in the South Bronx. I was part of a new school and was one of the first 7th grade math teachers that they had, so we built systems. We built the school basically from the beginning – there was no curriculum, there was nothing and it’s the south Bronx, so you know probably all the things you would think. Not unlike Waterbury. And I was there for three years and got commuted to Connecticut, so I went to Bridgeport and tried that out for a little bit. I needed a bit of a break and my son was maybe 3, so I went part time in the suburbs for a while and worked at a private school for a bit and basically decided I didn’t want to contribute to work that only exacerbated (the issues). So I left and came to Waterbury. I  was already in administrative leadership, so I came in as an administrator.”

What advice would you give to students at Wilby High School who want to be successful in the future ?

“Decide what you want and ignore most of the rest of it. I spend a lot of time with kids who are distracted by nonsense. If there is something you want, that should be the thing you do even if your friends are encouraging you. When I was a kid, that happened a lot, and I just decided, ‘That’s fine; I don’t want to be like you. I don’t know where they are now and don’t care because my life is lovely and just keep aiming for that.”