Volume 18 • Issue 24 | Oct. 28 - Nov. 3, 2005

New principal to takes reins at P.S. 150

By Ronda Kaysen

Maggie Siena, once an assistant principal at a top Downtown elementary school and co-founder of a Tweed Courthouse learning center, has been tapped as principal of P.S. 150 in Tribeca.

The post at the Greenwich St. elementary school was rendered vacant when founding principal Alyssa Polack announced her resignation in September. Polack resigned from the 180-student school after her husband was hired as the editor-in-chief of Milkweed Editions, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based literary publisher.

Polack will leave her post on Nov. 23, before the Thanksgiving holiday. Siena will replace her on the following Monday, Nov. 28, although she is expected to begin working at the school this week.

“I couldn’t be happier with the person to whom I’m passing the reins,” said Polack in a telephone interview. “I have a tremendous amount of awe and respect for Maggie. I couldn’t find a better person.”

Siena was not available for comment, Wednesday, Oct. 26.

She is a longtime figure in the Downtown public school circuit. She worked as assistant principal at P.S. 234, a Tribeca elementary school further south on Greenwich St., under principal Anna Switzer before the two left to found City Hall Academy, a Mayor Michael Bloomberg creation. The Academy opened in the ground floor of the Tweed Courthouse after Bloomberg got control of the schools from the Board of Education. Siena now works as a consultant for A.U.S.S.I.E., an international literacy consultancy firm.

Siena has big shoes to fill.

Polack joined P.S. 150 eight years ago when it was known as the Early Childhood Center. In 2000, the K –2 merged with Bridges, a Village school that went from grades 3 – 5, and Polack became principal of the larger school, which was renamed P.S. 150/Tribeca Learning Center. “Just like how I’ve nurtured my own kids, I have put a lot of time, energy, and thought into making this school the school that it is today,” said Polack.

Polack, a Brooklyn resident and Bronx native, plans to raise her two young sons, ages five and 19 months, fulltime when she resettles in Minneapolis later next month. “It’s going to be an adventure,” she said. “It’s going to open up our world.”

Nestled inside a corner of Independence Plaza North on Greenwich St., the Tribeca Learning Center is a small school with loyal parents. “The parents have been incredibly supportive and understanding. We’ve gone through a lot, we’ve built this school together.”

Siena’s hire might put the concerns of some Downtown residents — that their treasured school will not be the same without its founding principal — to rest. “I was worried about P.S. 150, quite frankly, that they would get someone who would not carry on with Alyssa’s great work, someone who was not of Alyssa’s caliber,” said Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth, a nonprofit that runs after school programs at P.S. 150 and P.S. 234. “But Maggie is of Alyssa’s caliber… Maggie knows the neighborhood. She’s a hardworking person, very talented.” Siena also happened to be Townley’s son’s kindergarten teacher at P.S. 234.



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