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New principal at Hamlin Park BPS #74 ready to dig in to literacy

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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The Buffalo Public School District recently named a new leader at the Hamlin Park School Number 74.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley caught up with the new principal as he was only on the third day of his new job.  

“So we have a lot of people that are very engaged, that really want to see all the students achieve here,” Hamlin Park’s Principal Patrick Cook said of his school.

Principal Patrick Cook stood in the main lobby of the school building in the city's Hamlin Park neighborhood.  He was waiting for students to participate in the annual Halloween parade.  

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Hamlin students gathered in the lobby for their Halloween parade Monday.

Cook arrived after serving as an assistant principal at School Number Six. Hamlin's former principal recently left for a position in another school district.  Cook said he’s excited to begin his new post at one of the city's community schools.

“We have everything from health care to dental, we have an after school program. What we really want to do is have all of the instruction align from what’s going on in the school day to have that align to after school, but we also have a longer school day. We also are going to have Saturdays twice a month,” Cook explained.

Cook admits there are challenges, but he believes he's entered a school with a strong support system for students. He said improving student literacy will be key.

“My students need to be reading and writing at a proficient level by grade three. So that’s really our focus, is to have extra reading teachers and really hone in on the students from K through the third grade,” Cook stated.

8th grade teacher Andrew Franz said he believes his school is headed in a positive direction.

“You know, we’re trying to head back to the community and I think that will be a lot more successful as a school if we’re including the people around us,” Franz commented.

When asked about the capabilities of the students at the school, Franz replied, “Oh, any kid can achieve anything and I look at the smiling faces around us and especially the little guys, and you can see that our positivity is definitely running off on them”

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Inside Hamlin Park School Monday where children gathered for their Halloween parade.

Co-worker Barbara Fitzgerald agrees.  She's been teaching at Hamlin for 27-years. “We’ve been working to change. We all have little buttons -- we made a goal to increase our test scores by 20-percent and we all wear our little buttons here,” she said.

When asked how the school will carry out new change efforts, Fitzgerald noted that it will be through a collective effort of leveraging success for younger students.

“I think, as an early childhood person, I believe we have to start with the young kids. We have to make sure that they’re ready to move up and that’s what we are doing -- we’re laying a great foundation,” Fitzgerald added.

Both Fitzgerald and Franz tell us they are pleased the district and their union reached a new contract for teachers. Fitzgerald called it a ‘good compromise’ and Franz says he's finally relieved of 'stress and anxiety'. 

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