Lydia Colón Bomani is a retired Deputy Superintendent after celebrating 34 years of service as an educator with the NYC Department of Education. Lydia began her career as a middle and high school educator working in communities of color to close the opportunity and resource gap. As a teacher at I.S. 291, she taught computer science and social studies. Like other middle schools in the district, I.S. 291 struggled to support students identified as the bottom third, and in response, the district sought out teachers who demonstrated success with this challenging population to open an alternative middle school. Lydia was one of the founding teachers and later a dean at I.S. 300. As a teacher she practiced social-emotional pedagogy and as dean, she worked with students to practice conflict resolution and what is now commonly referred to as restorative justice practices. This work led to Lydia joining an alternative high school program committed to radical progressive pedagogy and social justice education.
As a teacher-leader, she supported the work of the alternative school program, Bushwick Outreach Center (BOC), which held strong partnerships with the community-based organizations El Puente and Make the Road (now MTRNY). In 2001 with the passing of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, alternative schools like BOC were slated to close, and knowing that closing BOC would jeopardize the opportunity for BOC students to continue their education, Lydia led a team of educators, students, and community activists that fought to transition BOC into a diploma-granting institution. Through the new school initiative, Lydia co-founded Bushwick Community High School (BCHS) and remained as a lead teacher and data specialist until 2008 when she moved on to become an assistant principal at South Brooklyn Community High School. Even though Lydia had left BCHS, she remained committed to that community. When BCHS was identified as a failing school designated to be closed, she joined her colleagues in the battle to keep BCHS open. One of the most impactful moments of her career was being in an auditorium watching students, families, and community members at a meeting with DOE officials making their case for why their school should remain open. That night Lydia watched then-Senior Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky make the decision to support keeping BCHS open; an example of school, the broader community, and the institution that runs schools, coming together in a shared vision, mission, and purpose.
Lydia went on to become the principal of Brooklyn Generation School (BGS) an innovative high school that focused on using teaching and learning time differently. In 2014 when BGS was identified as a struggling school, she led the charge in securing a state-funded community school grant. It was her mission to have the community be an integral part of the school’s growth and success. BGS’s community school model offered resources to students and their families that had a direct impact on student attendance, in-class performance, and increased post-secondary opportunities. Through her leadership, BGS went from a struggling school to a school in good standing. Lydia led BGS’ transformation with a focus on community engagement, social-emotional pedagogy, and innovative teaching and learning practices. In 2017 Lydia became Deputy Superintendent of schools in South Brooklyn, serving five community school districts and district thirty-three, supporting twenty-seven schools, their leadership, and communities.
Lydia joined City College of New York (CCNY) as an adjunct professor in the Educational Leadership program in 2016. As an adjunct at CCNY, she shared with aspiring building
leaders the potential of the community school framework as a way of improving outcomes, especially for students in our most disenfranchised communities. Lydia taught courses focused on leadership through community engagement and partnership, leading with an equity and access perspective, and addressing issues of race and disproportionality. Lydia has worked to foster teacher leadership, has demonstrated the importance of innovative problem solving, and improving instruction through using focused school community data, knowing the community and the context through which community constituents experience the educational system.
Lydia has a BA in Economics and Political Science from Manhattanville College, an MA in Secondary Math Education from the University of Bridgeport, and a Professional Diploma in
Educational Leadership from Manhattanville College. Lydia is a proud daughter of Puerto Rico and a second-generation educator. Her mother, Dr. Aida León Rivera, is a Bank Street alum, and it was during her mother’s journey that Lydia attended Bank Street School for Children. She credits her childhood experiences at Bank Street for the way she teaches and practices. She is the proud wife and lifelong partner of Tabari Zaid Bomani, and the mother of their two daughters, Anisa Angel and Anaya Angel.
“As an Afro-Latina, I see leadership in education as my ancestral responsibility.”