Carmen Asselta, a Ridgewood native, recently took over as the new principal at P.S. 34 Oliver H. Perry Elementary School in Greenpoint, replacing Alicja Winnicki, the now District 14 superintendent.
While the school has since been awarded the 2012 Blue Ribbon National School of Excellence award, Asselta’s is already working on her own vision for the school and her students.
A former teacher of nearly 14 years at M.S. 50 in District 14 and more recently the assistant principal at P.S 94 in Sunset Park for five years, Asselta is more than ready. In fact, she is motivated by the opportunity of progression with her new role in the Brooklyn school system.
“This is a very well-established school,” Asselta said of Brooklyn’s oldest school still in operation, being established circa 1867.
“It’s not about coming in and changing everything, it’s really more about looking at the structures that are already in place and enhancing and thinking, always towards the future,” she said.
One of Asselta’s many focus areas in her first year at P.S. 34 has been around furthering her student’s environmental awareness with the Young Environmentalist Club. The program is run by the school’s assistant principal, Maria LoRe Dioguardia, and a parent, and promotes the importance of recycling and composting with the children
“This is an opportunity for the children to really see how big the world is, and they find their place within that world pretty early,” she explained. “It promotes the idea of good nutrition, where food comes from, and how to go about creating those things.”
The group, made up of around 20 fourth and fifth graders, is currently working on opening a vertical garden at the school, growing a variety of fruits and vegetables in Lentol Garden, and even potentially working with local vendors on distributing their products throughout the community.
In addition to readying kids as members of the community, Asselta is also dedicated to preparing children for middle school, high school and even looking into creating a career interest by beginning to implement the idea of college.
“I believe that every child can succeed and I think that really tapping into what children’s talents are is key,” she said of her philosophy on educating the youth. “Every child comes to us with hidden potential and it is up to us to find out what that potential is and make it grow.”
Going into her first spring at the school, her students are involved in an after-school chess program with the St. Nicks Alliance in partnership with P.S. 13, she brought back the ballroom dancing program for the fifth graders, and she is currently looking into advancing the current music program by bringing in the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music to add percussion lessons to the current program and possibly adding after-school violin lessons.
With support ffrom her parents and staff members, Asselta has already taken the reigns with her plans for the future.
“We are so happy and proud that Ms. Asselta has been formally, finally, appointed our principal,” said Susan Anderson, a parent at P.S. 34. “She is an amazing leader and inspiration to the students, parents, teachers and staff.”