Richard R. Green High School of Teaching

At Richard R. Green High School of Teaching on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Principal Isabel DiMola leads her staff and students to success through an innovative intervention program that focuses on literacy.


The ten “Beat the Odds” schools were selected after an extensive review of a Parthenon Group study and data from the New York City Department of Education. These schools’ innovative programs and outstanding leadership resulted in a higher than average graduation rate for students who typically either dropped out or did not graduate on time.

Background Study



Recognizing and Addressing Challenges


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Isabel connects with students.

Principal Isabel DiMola grabs her text book from the tidy shelf above her desk and heads down the hall to teach her eleventh grade Psychology class. Sure, she’s the principal at Richard Green High School in Manhattan, but Isabel still finds time to teach this class three times a week. It keeps her grounded, helps her stay connected to her teachers, her students, and their collective challenges.

Isabel’s not the type of leader who dwells on difficulties. She’d been a successful Assistant Principal, focusing on data, budget, and organization issues at Richard Green. Faced with a growing number of ninth-grade students lacking in literacy skills and high school credits, Isabel educated herself about adolescent literacy. She sought out resources and she and her faculty created a special Literacy Program targeting these needs. Here, teachers work to boost literacy skills and address hidden challenges faced by their students. When progress lags for some, they organize an intervention workshop in which faculty and students confront obstacles head on.


Making Room for New Programs


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Isabel provides instructional support in her school budget wherever possible.

Behind the scenes, Isabel and Dave, her Assistant Principal of Administration, work the school budget like a Rubik’s Cube, moving resources around to meet the school’s needs. Creativity, grit, and a little luck allow them to acquire new instructional materials, decrease class sizes, furnish classrooms, and fund professional development for teachers.


Meeting Students’ Needs


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Amy describes the student-centered atmosphere at Richard Green.

“We knew we needed to start with student needs and create a program to fit, not create a program and place students in it.”

Amy and her colleagues get what’s at the center of all the issues at Richard Green: kids. As for the students—as typical adolescents—their classmates are the center of the universe. Isabel gets that. That’s why Amy likes working at Richard Green.

Serving as student activities coordinator in addition to teaching social studies keeps Amy in the loop, giving her an inside look at issues in her students’ lives.


Supporting Teachers


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Lisa models the use of literacy strategies for her students.

Since the Literacy Program began, Lisa and Amy have valued their shared planning time, smaller class sizes, and solid training in the use of reading strategies.

Animal Farm is a classic, and Lisa loves using it in her English class. But the connections between this book and the social studies curriculum aren’t vivid enough to capture the interest and build the skills of her tenth graders. Students in the Literacy Program need additional support to engage them with this book.