Michelle Amato was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Her mother was a high school English teacher who taught at Elizabeth High School, the same public high school Michelle attended. Her mother had immigrated to the United States from India, by way of England, working as a teacher. Education was part of Michelle’s life from early on, as she watched, then helped, her mother grade papers, and accompanied her to Teachers College where she sat in on education courses her mother was taking. When Michelle was 7 years old, she experienced a significant injury in which she broke her leg and was hospitalized for several months. Her time in the hospital inspired her to pursue a career in medicine. Michelle entered the pre-medicine program at New York University. She majored in Slavic Studies after having studied Russian in elementary school (with one of her mother’s students, at her mother’s insistence). During her time at NYU, she worked with the national organization CHANCE, Concern and Help for the Advancement of Needy Children through Education. Michelle realized that a career in medicine was not actually what she wanted. It was too late for her to change majors without adding on a lot of extra time and cost to her degree, so she finished up her B.A. in Slavic Studies, figuring it would be an interesting topic of conversation, but not something she would ever use again.
After leaving NYU, Michelle pursued her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education at Hunter College. She student taught at the Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars, a citywide gifted and talented school in East Harlem. The school was piloting a foreign language program, but was having a difficult time finding someone who wanted to teach in an elementary school and knew basic Russian. The stars had aligned perfectly – and Michelle began her teaching career teaching Russian to elementary school students in East Harlem. Once that program ended, she became a 4th grade teacher at TAG. She received her Gifted Education Extension, and her certification as a School Administrator/Supervisor and as a School District Administrator. After several years of teaching, Michelle became a full-time mentor, and for 3 years, she worked with new teachers in schools across Manhattan and the South Bronx.
In 2007, Michelle became the Assistant Principal of PS41, the Greenwich Village School, where she worked for 12 years. Her experience there included aligning curriculum with school-wide goals, planning and facilitating professional development (most recently around implicit biases), developing systems and structures for collaboration and efficiency, training faculty members in emergency response procedures, and working with different members of the community– all with students’ needs and interests in mind. For the past 4 years, Michelle has also worked for the NYCDOE’s Office of Leadership to coach other assistant principals on instructional practices to improve their leadership.
Michelle and her husband Chris live in Valhalla, New York, with their dog Harley. They like to travel, cook, and bike-ride, on paved paths and roads with both pedal power and horse power. Michelle also enjoys Shaun T’s fitness programs, T25 and Insanity (when she’s feeling strong enough to take it on!).
Michelle is grateful to the many people who have directly and indirectly played a part in her career over the last 22 years (relatives, students, supervisors, mentors, colleagues, community members). Each one of them has given her experiences that have allowed her to begin the next chapter in her life.
Michelle is excited to join PS527 and be the principal of this amazing community school.