View Full Version : All NYC Q&A with Allison Gaines Pell, Head of The Blue School

01-21-2014, 07:38 AM
From DNAinfo.com (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140120/south-street-seaport/school-founded-by-blue-man-group-focuses-on-creativity) by Irene Plagianos:

A school founded by the original cast of the Blue Man Group — an experimental and, after more than 20 years, an enduringly popular performance art show — is likely to be a creative place.

The Blue School, a pre-school through fifth grade private school, is certainly an innovative learning environment, said principal Allison Gaines Pell. But it’s grounded in “making sure the kids get the skills they need every year, by allowing children to have ideas, ask questions and, ultimately, build a sense that they are responsible for their learning.”

Gaines Pell, who took the helm of the $34,000-a-year South Street Seaport school in 2012, said the school’s educational foundation, with its small classes of 13 to 15 students, and it's inquiry and project-based approach to teaching is, in large part, what drew her there.

Before taking the position at the 220-student Blue School, the 38-year-old New York City native was the principal of Fort Greene’s P.S./M.S. 492, the Urban Assembly Academy of Arts and Letters, a school that she founded in 2006.

Her decision to leave Arts and Letters was not easy, but made sense, she said.

“I had an amazing assistant principal who I felt was ready to take over, and I had the opportunity to come here and try to build a school in a different kind of context,” she said. “I felt that there was a real possibility at Blue School to live at the edge of what’s possible to do at schools.”

Q: Your school is focused on inquiry-based learning — how does that educational approach work at Blue School?

I think the people that bring their children to Blue School believe its possible to do extraordinary things in education and that school is a place that can exponentially increase the amount of curiosity and wonder that children have, instead of the other way around.

Our approach to education, which is an inquiry-based approach, means we believe that the classroom should be built on projects that culminate over time, where children are able to have ideas, ask questions and follow through those ideas and questions to their natural conclusion.

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