Chancellor Klein, right, with Pedro Noguera at a panel discussion today

If Joel Klein is nervous about his future as chancellor, he wasn’t showing it this morning.

After participating in a panel about the achievement gap at a conference sponsored by Channel 13 today, Klein was swarmed by audience members who wanted to thank him for the opportunities his leadership has given them.

Three of the well-wishers I encountered were people who have risen to leadership positions under Klein’s administration: Mercedes Qualls, who in 2003 took over a failing school in Queens that has since stabilized; Jackie Boswell, currently ushering Lafayette High School through its final years; and Robert Armond, who is training right now at the city’s Leadership Academy to join his wife as a principal in the city’s schools.

Klein was all smiles and hugs as he listened to one fan after another. After hearing a particularly effusive expression of gratitude, Klein joked about his reported unpopularity. Laughing, he said, “I’m staying here next year!”