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Three New Principals Step Up at UWS Schools

By Emily Frost | September 23, 2013 8:46am
 Three experienced educators are leading Upper West Side schools. 
New UWS Principals
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A trio of interim principals have been named at neighborhood schools to fill in for those who recently stepped down, education officials announced last week.

Claudine Cassan-Jellison has been named the interim acting principal at P.S 333 on West 93rd Street, Candida Frith will lead M.S. 256 on West 93rd Street and Caitlin Caldwell was appointed to M.S. 247 on West 92nd Street.

At the K-8 P.S. 333, also known as the Manhattan School for Children, principal Susan Rappaport retired after more than 20 years with the school, District 3 Superintendent Ilene Altschul said at a Community Education Council meeting Wednesday. 

Cassan-Jellison, who is stepping up after serving as assistant principal at the school since 2004, began at the school in 1994 as a reading teacher, Altschul said.

"My commitment is basically to progressive education and to integrating arts in the education and to inclusive education," Cassan-Jellison said. 

The school opened with just four classrooms and now has 29, with 776 children attending. 

"We still strive to know every child," Cassan-Jellison said.

Caldwell only learned that she would be taking over as interim principal at M.S. 247, a dual-language middle school, on Friday, Sept. 13, and had to begin the following Monday, Altschul noted. The former principal, Claudia Aguirre, was promoted to serve as the new CEO of the Office of English Language Learners, said David Pena, a spokesman for the DOE.

Caldwell has been with the school as a special-education teacher since 2005 and became assistant principal in January 2012. 

"I’m very excited to be taking on this new opportunity. We have the best students, the best parents, the best teachers," Caldwell told the CEC, noting that she's spent her entire professional career at the school.

"We have a lot of work to do with the Common Core assessments," she added, "and I’m really really excited about it."

Frith joins M.S. 256, which shares a building with P.S. 333, with 20 years of education experience, Altschul said. She took the job on very short notice after Altschul learned the current principal, Jeffrey Perl, had resigned. 

The reason for Perl's resignation was not clear, but he has put himself into a DOE employment pool of assistant principals and "will go wherever he is needed," Pena said. 

Frith worked in District 6 after starting her career in airline administration and then spent time working on Wall Street. Most recently, she was principal at a school for emotionally disturbed boys in Nyack, N.Y. 

Frith said when it comes to middle-schoolers, she uses positive behavior strategies — techniques like reinforcing good behavior with prizes and giving students a voice through things like student council. 

She's started a program she calls the "character trait of the month," which involves school-wide discussions about the trait. Frith is starting out the program with "respect," she said.

Frith is also looking forward to leading the teachers at the school. 

"I truly enjoy the opportunity to bring the enthusiasm, motivation and rigor to our teachers," she said.