Stuyvesant principal quits for post at Trump's former school
Jie Zhang retires after four years at helm for upstate gig at military academy
|Stuyvesant High School|
Stuyvesant High School Principal Jie Zhang announced Monday that she would retire in July to become superintendent at the New York Military Academy, a private boarding school upstate best known for having had Donald Trump as a student.
|Former NYC Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Jie Zhang|
Zhang has spent more than 30 years as an educator, which means she was likely not increasing her future pension by continuing in the post she has held for just four years. In fact, she should now be able to draw on that pension while receiving her private-sector salary from the military school, located in Cornwall-on-Hudson.
In an email to students Monday, Zhang did not explain the reasons for her decision other than to say it was "difficult." She wrote that she chose July 21 as her retirement date because it was on that date in 1985 when she landed at Kennedy Airport "to pursue my American dream."
Her first job as a teacher was at Rikers Island. She took the helm at Stuyvesant High School after acheating scandal led to her predecessor's resignation.
Zhang's new school was bought at a bankruptcy auction last fall for a reported $15.825 million by a nonprofit controlled by Chinese investors, who pledged to reopen the 126-year-old high school after it filed for Chapter 11 protection in March 2015. The school sent letters assuring students that it would open in September of that year, but it did not.
Besides Trump, the school's alumni include Stephen Sondheim, John A. Gotti and Francis Ford Coppola, according to The New York Times. It was founded in 1889, but military schools have recently fallen out of favor, and that trend has contributed to the New York Military Academy's financial struggles. Its enrollment had fallen to fewer than 100 students from more than 600 in the 1960s.
Trump graduated from the school in 1964 and later credited it with maturing him after a rambunctious stretch at a Queens prep school. The Washington Post (which on Monday was banned by Trump from his campaign events) reported that his five years at the military school, which runs from eighth grade through twelfth, were not without controversy.
Though many alumni from the school went on to celebrated military careers, Trump got educational and medical deferments to avoid serving in the Vietnam War.