By NYLU AVERY BERNSHTAYN, age 8

PHOTO: Anna Allanbrook
PHOTO: Anna Allanbrook

Anna Allanbrook is the principal of PS 146, the Brooklyn New School. She spoke with IndyKids about educational issues, and the joys and challenges of being the principal at a New York City public school.

Nylu Avery Bernshtayn: How long have you been the principal at PS 146, Brooklyn New School (BNS)?

Anna Allanbrook: I have been a principal at PS 146 since 1997—16 years.

NAB: What is the most challenging part about being a principal at a public school?

AA: That’s a big question! I think the most challenging thing for me is that I have a lot of ideas about what I want for the students, and sometimes I do not have enough money. It is difficult to make sure we have everything we need as a school and enough money to do it with!

NAB: What is the most important issue in public education that you, as a principal, are concerned about?

AA: I think everyone wants to make sure that children are learning, but right now our government doesn’t know how to assess if children are learning, so they give lots of tests. And I think that instead of putting money into tests, what we really should be doing is helping our youngest children before they even come to school. I think if we did a better job with that, we wouldn’t have all of these problems in elementary schools.

NAB: As a principal at your school, what are you doing to address standardized testing?

AA: I think in other public schools you will find children coming home and saying that they did test prep all day long. Our students come home saying they went on a trip to the Museum of Natural History and to the Chinese Scholar’s Garden. They come home saying they learned how to do calligraphy and learned about the Great Wall. And I think that’s how I am dealing with it—by making sure our students do the really good work, and giving a little practice right before the test so they feel confident enough to take the test.

NAB: How can kids learn more about issues in education?

AA: We, as adults, have to make sure that kids are part of the conversation about issues in education. We have to make sure there is a dialogue about current issues in education that gets the kids involved!

NAB: What is your favorite thing about being the principal at BNS?

AA: Well, I am very proud of the school. This year a second grader wrote a song with her teacher about their island study, and performed it with her class in front of the entire school! It is special, creative moments Ike this that are my favorite part of being the principal at BNS.