The Blueprint: Assistant Principal, Craig Joseph knows success starts with a plan-- And it starts at Hayes
There is always an irrepressible whirlwind of activity around Assistant Principal Craig Joseph ‘99. On any given day, Joseph can be seen rushing down the school corridors carrying files of papers while on his cellphone. By the time he arrives at his office, there are students standing by the door. Some are there for counsel and others just want a quick chat before going off to class. What is distinct about this daily ritual is the fact that Joseph makes quality time to address the concerns of his students regardless of his schedule. Joseph’s easy-going approach, stoic personality, and disciplined work ethic has made him a respected administrator and a beloved coach.
Like many of the students at Hayes, he is the son of hard working immigrants. At the age of 7, Joseph and his family immigrated to America from the island of Antigua. He, along with his three siblings, settled in the Bronx. Joseph went to Community School 28 right off the Concourse. He later attended Middle School 147 for a brief time before his father transferred him to St. Simon Stock School. When it came time to choose high schools, his top three choices were All Hallows, Cardinal Hayes and Cardinal Spellman.
Although All Hallows was the top contender, fate intervened and placed him at the perfect place to sway his decision. “I came to Hayes just to take the TACHS (Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools) exam. The first exposure to the school was when I ran into these men. They were football players wearing senior sweaters. Their presence is what really attracted me to Hayes…that was it. I realized that this is the kind of presence I wanted to have and who I wanted to be.” Once at Hayes, he excelled in his freshman year achieving a 90 grade point average. By time he was a sophomore, Joseph was placed in the Honors Program (2D). He quickly learned in order to remain in high academic standing, he had to develop some serious study habits. He spent time engaging in afterschool activities such as varsity football, varsity track and volunteering with community groups. In addition to his busy school schedule, he helped his father at the construction company he managed. What Joseph learned from his parents was the importance of dedication and hard work. “My Dad was a traditional Island man, he was always out working. My mother would work long hours and come home late. We would have dinner as a family and on the weekends she would take us out shopping. She educated herself and finished her associate degree and became a phlebotomist.” Another mentor who was influential in his life was Varsity Football Coach Sterling Alves. His impact would later be instrumental in Joseph’s coaching style. “Coach Alves made me understand that life is more than football and track and field. He was upfront with me and challenged me to do more. We had talks about everything from football to life.”
After graduating from Hayes in June of 1999, he enrolled at Mercyhurst (College) University where he majored in business and minored in communication. As a college student, he realized how well Hayes prepared him for higher education. “I think that the discipline and structure at Hayes helped me strive throughout my collegiate career.” Joseph was eager to enter the job market, so he reached out to a mentor working in the financial sector. He soon realized that he wasn’t interested in pursuing a career in banking. During this time, he would attend the annual Turkey Bowl games at Hayes and Coach CJ O’Neil encouraged him to come back and coach.
In 2004, he was hired as a math teacher and freshman assistant coach. Joseph taught for two years before he was asked to become the Admissions Director. “I was thrilled when I was offered the director position. The reason I came back to Hayes is because I was from a first generation Caribbean family. My parents were working, so they provided a home but Hayes provided everything else that was necessary to develop a young man in the South Bronx. I feel very strongly that if I didn’t have the combination of the two I don’t know if I would be where I am. There were a lot of positive male figures in the building that I could talk to and there were successful stories that you heard about that gave you something you could aspire to. There was very little room for you to fail.”
Cream Always Rises to the Top
Joseph’s years of dedication to Hayes was rewarded in the fall of 2016 when he was promoted to Assistant Principal in charge of Enrollment and Sports Management. While he was making strides administratively, he was also cultivating an impressive resume as a football and track coach. Under his leadership, the CHHS Junior Varsity Football team won the 2014 CHSFL AAA Championship.
Within the same season, he was promoted to Head Track Coach after legendary Hayes Track Coach Bill Dowling retired. Joseph had to create a new path for his team and reinvent himself. “The track team when I first started here had a strong reputation of field events because of Coach Dowling’s expertise. I spent a lot of time learning the sport of track and field just like I spent a lot time learning the sport of football as a coach. To play and to coach are two different things. I struggled tremendously as a football coach and then I finally got it. We had two or three undefeated back to back seasons and won the AAA Championship. This was the same thing with track. It was about professional development and getting away from how I was coached and developing my own philosophy on coaching.”
Joseph’s guidance and unwavering support transformed the young runners into fierce competitors. He exposed the nascent team to the big leagues and they did not disappoint. In June 2017 the 4x400 relay team broke the 48-year-old CHSAA league record and won the CHSAA Intersectional State Championship. Joseph’s runners hit another milestone in 2018 when they were nationally ranked in the 4x200 relay. The team comprised of Aaron Banson ‘17, Elijah Jones ‘18, Christian Anderson ‘17, Kristoph Thomas ‘17 and Jose Franco ‘18 became a dominant presence at track meets around the country including the Penn Relays. Joseph’s key strategy was helping his runners realize that the mental component was the key to their success. “For me it has always been getting my guys to understand that there is nothing that they can’t do. There isn’t a workout that they can’t eat up. There isn’t a person they can’t beat. Now, they walk on the track with this renewed confidence and they are viewed as a sprinting powerhouse. Also, what I feel helps me tremendously with my guys is the fact that I went to Hayes. I can relate to them, so when I talk to them there is a greater level of trust which enables me to get the best out of them. ”
As Joseph looks to the future, he is excited about the prospects of building a bigger team. “My vision for our track team is to expand the events that we do. We are a great sprinting program. As efficient as we are in sprinting, I want to be that efficient in the middle distance. I want to continue building our field events I have three sprint coaches…Rob Harris, Daquan Jay and Anthony Pena who are Hayes graduates. These guys are going to effect change in the program. I would like to see us expand to the hurdles and the 4x800m. When you speak to the old guys they praise the eight and the mile, so I want to get a 4x800 back on the track so that our alums can look back and say…that’s it!”
Cardinal Hayes is an all-boys, college preparatory Catholic High School serving the Bronx and upper Manhattan communities since 1941. It has steadfastly provided young men from diverse backgrounds access to a transformative education and a pathway to lifelong success.
For further information, contact:
Jackina Farshtey – Director of Communications and Marketing
Cardinal Hayes High School