East Harlem principal integrates pet therapy, yoga and chess into curriculum

For most of her 29 years in the Education Department, Sandra Gittens committed herself to making East Harlem schools better — even if that meant bringing an unconventional leadership style.

At Public School 102, where she has been principal for the last 11 years, Gittens established a pet therapy program for kids with behavioral problems, an urban garden and a mandatory chess class for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The Bayside resident’s innovative ideas and dedication to her students — many come from the nearby Jefferson Houses on E. 115th St. — make Gittens a contender for a Hometown Heroes in Education award.

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