From the Principal's Pen - August 27, 2018

Dear Staff, Students, Families, and the entire P.S. 229 Community, 

As many of you are aware, Mr. Robert Zappulla decided to retire after seven years as principal.  

It is with great excitement and anticipation that I take this opportunity to introduce myself as the Interim Acting Principal of P.S. 229K.  

I will share a little bit about myself. I am a parent of four children. One is a graduate of the NYC public schools and the other three still attend. This year, my wife and I will have one in college, one in high school, one in middle school, and one still in elementary school. Two have IEPs and have received special education services.  

I began my career as a special education teacher, with 13 years of classroom experience in a variety of settings, Pre-K though high school. I was an education administrator for two years, as part of the “regional support structure.” Returning to a school-based position, I was a middle-school assistant principal for five years. For five years, I have served as a Teacher Development & Evaluation Coach, the last four spent working with the thirty-eight schools in District 20.  

My educational beliefs include the following:

  • I love the following quote by educator, Robert John Meehan: “Each child is unique, not only capable of learning but also capable of succeeding.” If the school community can tap into each child’s unique abilities and needs, to then provide meaningful learning experiences, we will produce not only successful learners but also successful leaders.
  • A simple statement can say a whole lot. For example, “Teaching is done with students, not to them.” Indeed, teaching is a complicated and challenging endeavor. Successful teaching certainly relies on content knowledge and a repertoire of instructional skills/strategies/approaches. We cannot sell short however, the necessity of building positive relationships. I believe as the late great Rita Pierson stated in her famous TedTalk, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” Leading education pioneer, James Comer put it in a slightly different way, “No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.” Let’s build those relationships, and they will learn.
  • The P.S. 229 logo clearly depicts the importance of the home-school-community connection. Our students do not only learn inside of a classroom. A child’s first learning happens in the home, and it does not stop when the child enters school. We must not only continue home-school connections, but strengthen and build new ones.
  • Both home and school exist as part of a larger community. We must support our students and our community because they are interdependent. When our students are successful, our community thrives. When students contribute to the community, they are accepted and respected. When the community supports students’ in their struggles and celebrates their accomplishments, students feel valued and want to achieve more.

My initial hopes for us are to take what has been working well and make it even better. Find out what families, staff, and students want and need to make the school the best it can be. Then, identify the resources to make those wants/needs become a reality.  

I look forward to meeting each of you, and to working together for all of our students’ successes.  

William S. Kirk
P.S. 229K, Principal I. A.

From the Principal's Pen

Thoughts from Mr. Zappulla (Principal, August 2010-August 2018):  

“May P.S. 229K continue to be a lively center for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom."   August 2018
–from the P.S. 229K Comprehensive Educational Plan 2017-18, “Overview”
It has been a joy to serve this community as teacher, assistant principal, and principal.  I look forward to visiting in the future and, most of all, wish everyone continued happiness and success in all aspects of life. 
Mr. Zappulla

"A child's life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark."  February 14, 2015  
This ancient Chinese proverb sets a wonderful tone for the mid-winter recess as families hopefully get to spend more time together.  

Happy Holidays!  December 26, 2014
On behalf of all of us @229K, I extend to you our wishes for a wonderful holiday season with family and friends, including a peaceful New Year for home, school, community, and the world.  We resume studies on Monday, January 5, 2015.

Saluting our Veterans  November 9, 2014
This morning I attended a presentation regarding a program where veterans mentor fellow veterans who are in transitional housing due to homelessness in New York City.  These veterans build bonds with one another as the mentor is part of the companion's life journey--a journey of struggle and celebration which often may include a job search or choosing to continue their education on the road toward a career.  The program itself concludes after a prescribed amount of time with a graduation ceremony.

How this resonated within me, recalling our school mission to guide our children in meeting "standards of excellence and [becoming] productive citizens of the 21st Century."  The challenging Common Core Learning Standards have been implemented across the nation to focus our attention on "college and career readiness" for all students, including English language learners and those in special programs.  The success of 229K is the result of our common efforts, "home, school, and community," to guide our children toward graduation.  It is always important for adults (parents and staff) to think back, recalling the world around us when we were in our child's age range, for, though the world evolves, we have lived through it.  Now, it is our turn to support ("mentor") our children through the natural stages, trials, and errors of youth, including our support along the road toward their successes in the more rigorous studies expected of them.

During the mini-lecture, the mentor explained his role, in part:  actively listening without necessarily commenting, bonding with trust, and unearthing goals and dreams for the future.  How often have you found yourself doing these very things when guiding your own child or student?

This speaker's decision to become a veteran was summed up in this way:  "It is about doing something bigger than yourself."    Yes, for our children, college and career readiness; something bigger:  that is my hope for every child @229K.

P.S.  On Monday, November 10, all are encouraged to wear "Red, White, and Blue" as a salute to our veterans.

Ragamuffin Parade 2014  September 29, 2014
Where were you on the last official summer Saturday of September?  Many of you performed along Third Avenue, while others supported the school band by marching, along with an array of "famous" characters--far from ragamuffins!--who were accompanied by their families. 

Earlier that morning, as my exterminator visited for the regular quarterly visit, I talked about the parade and  she asked, "You mean the Ragamuffin Parade?"   On Sunday, speaking with some friends in Manhattan about the Brooklyn Parade, caused one to interject, "Was it the Ragamuffin Parade?"  Even those no longer in the neighborhood have fond memories of this wonderful event.

Thanks to Ms. Oppel and the band students who took the time to prepare and share their talents with the wider community at this longstanding Brooklyn tradition. We are grateful for your participation in leading us down the avenue:  you make us all glad to be a part of 229K.

Carnival 2014  September 21, 2014
We had beautiful weather for our annual PTA Carnival.  As bright as the sun was shining, so were the smiles of our dear children.  As refreshing as the breeze that kept the sun's warmth comfortable, so too, the catching up with our alumni, now in high school, who stopped by to visit and have a hot dog to support their school. 

I am extremely grateful to all the volunteers who made this day a celebration of home, school, and community.  Involvement in our PTA permits wonderful events such as this to take place--and what a successful kick-off to the school year it was!

Pondering –  16 December 2012
My dear members of the 229 school community,

Once again we find ourselves in the midst of current events that are alarming to us as a society, and particularly in educational environments where each and every child is the focus of our concern.

As the first day of winter draws near, the night grows longer.  As such, peoples of the northern hemisphere have long combated these cold and long, fear-filled evenings with hopeful celebrations of light.  At this time, we may need to share our own type of “light,” especially with our children.

This is the light that we must continue to share with our children:  no matter what they see or hear, they are loved.  To quote the teacher from the Newtown public school who protected her class by calling them to safety through silence: “I love you;”  please say this to your child and say it often.  Share the warmth of this light:  Spend time with your child doing things that your child enjoys.  Hug your child, and hug him/her often.

This is the light that we must continue to share with our children:  no matter what they see or hear, they have a future with amazing possibilities.  What does your child enjoy doing well?  Ask about it.  Encourage it.  What subjects at school will help them nurture it as they mature into fully independent learners?  Relate that interest and the importance of schooling to a number of occupations they may choose from when they grow up. 

This is the light that we must continue to share with our children:  no matter what they see or hear, they are cared for, especially by the adults who surround them—in the family, as friends, and at school.  Let them know that whenever they feel sad, discouraged, or feel any burden, there is an adult—that special someone—who wants to speak with them and help them.  The father of Emilie Parker, age 6, said “his daughter loved to try new things – except for new food.  And she was quick to cheer up those in need.  ‘She was beautiful. She was blond. She was always smiling.’”  What three or four thoughtful things would say about your child?   Be sure to tell him/her.

Building one’s family on such a firm foundation will support the necessary, age-appropriate discussion to have with your children about the horrific events that occurred to the innocents in Connecticut.  One resource, from the American Federation of Teachers, may be found athttp://aftorg/yourwork/tools4teachers/together/schonfeld.cfm.

This Saturday, the hours of daylight will begin lengthening.  The sun will shine a little more each day.  Let us help our children look forward to tomorrow.  Let us help our children look forward to a bright future.  Let us help our children make “New Year’s Resolutions” of wonderful long-term goals for an excellent life (even if these may change every month, week, day or hour—depending on their age).  

This is the light we must continue to share with our children:  When daylight returns, night time fades.  There is hope for the future.  There is caring for one another.  There is love. 

May the love shared during the holiday season fill the hearts of you and yours.

For the sake of the children, I am

Sincerely yours,
Mr. R. Zappulla,