Maggie Siena, P.S. 150 Principal, Will Lead New Peck Slip School

By Julie Shapiro on December 20, 2011 5:54pm 

Maggie Siena, principal of P.S. 150 in TriBeCa, will lead the new Peck Slip School.
Maggie Siena, principal of P.S. 150 in TriBeCa, will lead the new Peck Slip School.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

LOWER MANHATTAN — Downtown's new Peck Slip School will have a familiar face at the helm when it opens next fall: Maggie Siena, who has led TriBeCa's P.S. 150 for the past six years.

Siena will remain at P.S. 150 through the end of the school year, but she will also begin making plans for the Peck Slip School, which will open with two kindergarten classes in Tweed Courthouse next fall and will ultimately grow to 712 students.

"I've loved being at 150 [but] I'm interested in taking on a new challenge," Siena said Monday.

"The idea of starting a new school from scratch — what do we want to set as the traditions and norms and the culture of our school — is very, very appealing to me."

The Peck Slip School will remain in Tweed for three years before moving to its permanent home in the Peck Slip Post Office building in 2015.

Many parents zoned for the Peck Slip School have expressed concern about their children spending three years in Tweed, which has no gym or auditorium and just a small cafeteria.

But Siena, who co-founded the City Hall Academy at Tweed Courthouse in 2003 and is familiar with the space, called the grand 19th-century courthouse "beautiful" and said she did not see the its limitations as obstacles.

"We can make amazing things happen without a lot of facilities," Siena said.

That's exactly what Siena has done for the past six years at P.S. 150, one of the smallest elementary schools in the city, which has just one class per grade and has no cafeteria, gym or auditorium.

Instead of using a school auditorium, P.S. 150's students put on shows at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Without a gym, they run along the Hudson River or up and down stairs in their building — an approach that worked so well that several students recently won prizes at a citywide track meet, and coach Tony Kunin brought home a borough-wide coaching award, Siena said.

In terms of educational philosophy, Siena expects the Peck Slip School to be similar to Downtown's other elementary programs, including TriBeCa's P.S. 234, where she did her student teaching.

The new Peck Slip School will open with two kindergarten classes in Tweed Courthouse in the fall of 2012.
The new Peck Slip School will open with two kindergarten classes in Tweed Courthouse in the fall of 2012.
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Flickr/joseph a

"There will be the same emphasis on inquiry, critical thinking [and] social and emotional learning," Siena said.

Students will also learn about sustainability, Siena said.

The city has not yet decided who will take over P.S. 150 once Siena leaves, said Mariano Guzman, superintendent of District 2.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced Siena's appointment Monday afternoon at a meeting of his school overcrowding task force.

"We welcome you aboard," Silver told Siena. "We're excited to see the school open. We know it will be, like the other Downtown schools, a wonderful institution, which we will be proud of."

Siena will hold information sessions and tours of Tweed Courthouse this winter for prospective Peck Slip School parents, but the dates and times have not yet been set.

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