Making the grade

D. Scott Parker. Photo courtesy of D. Scott Parker
D. Scott Parker, principal at P.S. 452, already looking forward to next school year

When D. Scott Parker became the founding principal of P.S. 452 in the fall of 2010, the West 77th Street school shared a building with two other schools, as it has ever since. At the time, P.S. 452 had 50 kindergarten students, three classrooms, an art room and an office. Parker likened it to a “one-room schoolhouse.”

All that will change this fall, when P.S. 452 moves into a building on West 61st Street now occupied by P.S. 191, which itself will move to a new, nearby site.

“We’re really excited about the move as the building is developmentally appropriate for elementary children,” Parker said.

P.S. 452’s new space will include a brand-new media lab and a soon-to-be-built library. Starting next school year, P.S. 452 will have two sections in each of first through fifth grades, as well as four kindergarten sections. It will also be able to offer pre-K programming for the first time.

Parker, 45, took an atypical route to his education career. He completed degrees in art history and drama and worked with the Actors Studio and the Manhattan Theatre Club. He also produced audio books. Soon after Sept. 11, 2001, he decided to do something more “in service” and applied and received a teaching fellowship in 2002.

“It just kind of happened,” Parker said. “It found me, and ended up being the perfect fit.”

After five years of teaching, at P.S. 194 and P.S. 199, he began the transition to administration by joining the NYC Leadership Academy, a 14-month principal training program. He was appointed assistant principal at P.S. 199 in 2009, and launched P.S. 452 the following year.

The school has been recognized by a Blackboard Award along with a top ranking from Inside Schools, whose review said P.S. 452 “has quickly become one of the best schools in the district.”

Charlotte Arboleda, a teacher for nearly 30 years and a colleague of Parker’s for about a decade, left a longstanding job at P.S 199 in 2010 to “take a chance” on the start-up school. “I always had a strong connection to [Parker] and really value his vision and ideas,” she said. “We have a strong commitment to educate all students and I feel honored to be a part of the team.”

Adam Javidi taught at P.S. 452 for three years before ascending to the assistant principal’s role just over two years ago.

“I’m extremely grateful that he [Parker] committed to serve as my mentor when I shifted from the classroom to administration. He is a rare example of a dynamic principal who is knowledgeable, wise, charismatic and caring. The Upper West Side is fortunate to have such an amazing man working for their community,” Javidi said.

Parker lives in Brooklyn, but has a great affection for the Upper West Side, and takes in performances at nearby Lincoln Center and runs in Central Park.

Most of all, though, he is looking forward to his new digs.

“With the move, we will be able to serve more children,” he said, “and it’s an honor and privilege to learn alongside both children and educators.”