P.S. 20

district debut

New York

Popular Fort Greene principal is leaving to helm a private school

Allison Gaines Pell sees herself as a builder, and now that she's completed her latest project it's time to move on to a new one. Pell, who founded Urban Assembly Academy of Arts & Letters in 2005 and steered its growth into one of Brooklyn's most popular middle schools, announced this week that she was resigning at the end of the year. The announcement comes roughly a year after Pell also oversaw Arts & Letters' bumpy expansion into an elementary school. John O'Reilly, who has been a co-director since the beginning of the school year, will take over the helm. Pell said today that she would be moving on to the Blue School, a growing private elementary school on the Lower East Side that is so far best known as a school started by members from The Blue Man Group. But the school is also steeped in progressive education, a model that Pell is familiar with. Pell attended Saint Ann's in Brooklyn Heights, one of the city's most progressive schools, then taught there for three years after graduating from Brown. Pell, a graduate of the city's Leadership Academy, was a favorite at Tweed and praised as a model candidate from the new brand of young principals in the public school system. In an interview, Pell said her reasons for leaving had more to do with where she is headed than any difficulties she faced in navigating the bureaucracies of the DOE. "There is no part of me that's leaving because I'm not happy," Pell said. "I enjoy building things and this is an exciting prospect for me."