Kelly Shannon, principal of P.S. 41
Bringing the parents into the classroom at P.S. 41
By David Spett
Parental involvement in education is a major goal for Kelly Shannon, the second-year principal of P.S. 41, the Greenwich Village School.
By inviting parents into the classroom every two weeks through a program called Family Mornings, Shannon, 36, said she has helped make them an active part of childrens learning. Bringing parents into the classroom makes teaching more transparent, she said.
When you make things transparent, and parents feel they can come and question in a respectful way, it just makes the teacher-child-school relationship much better, Shannon said. When you make things transparent, people dont feel like if [they] dont get something, they cant ask a question.
Shannon who originally taught history to older students in the preK-5 school and was promoted to assistant principal in 2000, then principal in 2005 said students are required to keep notebooks that show parents their progression of learning.
I see what my child is learning, and heres how I can help, Shannon said, explaining the parents viewpoint. Parents are partners with the child and with the school, she stressed.
This year, Shannon said she hopes to increase transparency even further, working specifically to inform parents of what is being taught in social studies and mathematics.
With two children of her own, Shannon said she understands that parents sometimes dont know how teachers are presenting concepts to students. The goal of the notebooks, she said, is to show parents just that.
Speaking as a parent, she said, I have a certain way Ive learned, so sometimes I do it differently than what theyre doing in the classroom, and you want to mesh those together.
Continuing with the theme of transparency, Shannon described herself as approachable and receptive to parents worries and complaints.
If you have a concern, bring it to me, talk about it, and well come to some kind of solution. Sometimes well agree right away, and sometimes well agree to disagree, Shannon said. Ultimately, thats what we have to go on. If it doesnt work, well be held accountable.
This year, about 750 students have enrolled at P.S. 41, which is located on 11th St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. Its the schools largest enrollment ever, Shannon said. In grades K-2, class sizes will be about 22; grade 3 will have 28 students per class on average; and grades 4-5 will have 30.
According to the Web site greatschools.net, 95 percent of Greenwich Village School students meet or exceed testing standards in math, and 93 percent meet or exceed standards in English. Both figures have increased in the past four years and are above the state average. Ten parents have rated the school on the site, giving it a four-star average. The maximum is five stars.
Jill Stern, whose daughter is entering fourth grade and whose son just graduated, said Shannon is doing an impressive job.
Shes motivated, and you can tell that shes focused, Stern said of Shannon. Last year, she and her assistant principal were always in the classrooms. Her presence was shown. Everyones happy with her.
Stern was complimentary of Shannons attempts to increase parental involvement in the classroom.
I was a little bad last year and couldnt attend all of the Family Mornings, Stern said. But just knowing there was that opportunity was nice, she added.
Jill Tapia, co-president of the schools P.T.A. and parent of a fifth-grader, said parents look to Shannon as a role model.
Im a big supporter of Kelly, Tapia said. Wow, shes successful.