Meet your Principal: Silvana Ng, P.S. 2 Meyer London Elementary School

Principal of Lower Manhattan

June 2, 2020

Please tell us a little about yourself, your background, and what led you into educational leadership.

I grew up in Chinatown, New York. My siblings and I attended P.S. 130. After school, we attended a Beacon program and on Saturdays, we were in Chinese classes. With the strong support of my parents, the guidance of our teachers, and the enrichment experiences from the afterschool program, learning was always a part of my life. Therefore education seemed to be a natural choice especially as I grew to understand that being a learner is one of the most important aspects of teaching.  

How long have you been with P.S. 2? Where were you before this?

I am starting my 3rd year as the principal of P.S. 2. Before this, I was at a nearby school, P.S. 1 where I started as a first-grade bilingual teacher and after more than a decade of teaching, became the assistant principal.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I am collaborative and a communicator.  I believe that if the school community (staff, families and partnerships) understands the purpose of our work and the goals, together we will put in every effort to achieve them.  

What is your school’s philosophy? Teaching style? How do you encourage that kind of culture?

Our school’s philosophy is to provide the resources (academic, social-emotional, and family) to ensure that every student has every opportunity to become a successful learner and a caring community member.

What advice would you give to a new teacher on his or her first year?

First, know that the job is oftentimes overwhelming because there is so much to do but make sure that you spend the time to get to talk with and get to know your students. Secondly, set a specific and focused learning goal for yourself, what do I want to get better at this year. Lastly, although it’s hard to do, make sure to take time for yourself.

What strategies do you use to manage children with special educational needs?

All children learn in different ways and at different paces.  For our special education students, we provide services that will support their learning – speech, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. There is also a team to provide additional support – academic at-risk small group, and counseling.  To support our parents, we have a bimonthly parent support group led by our social worker and parent coordinator. We also partner with community health organizations to provide parent support, referrals, and services.

What steps would you take if you are dealing with a student discipline incident?

I believe that when an incident occurs, it is a teaching opportunity.  First, it is important to listen to the students’ version of the incident and understand what led him/her to respond inappropriately.  Secondly, I help the student clarify misconceptions and coach him/her to respond more respectfully and effectively. Lastly, the student is guided in restoring the relationship with the person s/he offended. The consequence will be one that is appropriate to the offense. 

How do you recruit and maintain quality teachers and staff members?

I believe that we are always in the process of learning and improvement. Therefore, professional learning is important and I put every effort to seek out relevant and knowledgeable staff development services and workshops. It is also important that we learn from each other. Colleagues are resources for each other – through weekly meetings, classroom inter-visitations, and facilitating workshops.

What are some of your family favorite events that you host? Do you host any that are open to the public?

We host monthly Family Mornings in which parents come into the classroom to spend the first period of the day learning alongside their children. During these times, parents and grandparents have learned to play chess, a math game or participated in a music lesson. We also have student performances and learning fairs throughout the year. Currently, we don’t host any public events. 

Please tell us what makes your school unique from others in the area?

P.S. 2 has a strong academic program. Moreover, the enrichment program is just as strong. We are an Apple ConnectEd school in which students and teachers each have an iPad and are integrating it into their learning and project work. We also have a technology teacher and a computer lab. Our music teacher implements the Music and the Brain keyboarding lessons and leads our chorus. Our art teacher has a strong and in-depth curriculum that includes art techniques through the use of different media.  We have a wonderful PTA that hosts a variety of programs and Spirit Days throughout the year.

Strong leaders are constantly learning. What is a great book or resource that has helped you grow and that you would recommend to others?

One of the books that I found helpful was Reframing Organizations by Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal. It shifted my thinking from a classroom to an organizational view of schools. Currently, I am reading Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. 

We want to get to know you a little better. Let’s play a round of quick questions. Tell us the first thing that comes to your mind:

Your favorite movie?  The Blind Side 

Your hidden talent?  I don’t have a particular talent but I’m always willing to try different things.  Being able to “google” has opened up a new world to me.  Currently, I’m learning website design.

What is your dream vacation?  Spending two months living in the Cayman Islands

What is your favorite dessert?  In a local dessert place, there is a dish of mango, sago, ice cream and pomelo. Delicious!

What accomplishment fills you with pride? When I bump into former students and we chat for a bit and I learn that they are happy and successful.  

What inspires you?  When I see children being kind and thoughtful. One day, during a Family Morning, I observed a second-grade bilingual student translating his writing to Chinese so that his mom could understand it.

What is the best thing about being a principal? When students spontaneously share their work when I walk into their classroom or give me random hugs when they see me.  

A piece of advice you would like your students to remember, always?  Never give up and know that there are people who will help when you ask. 

A gift from your student/s that you value the most? One of my 5th-grade classes organized a surprise birthday party for me. Although the party and the gift were thoughtful, what I appreciated most was the note that they had written to each other, “bring in food and don’t tell Ms. Ng. She’s smart and she’ll find out.”

Is there a quote or saying that you live your life by?  Currently, it’s “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

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