School Leadership Team Statements

There are 5 candidates running for 3 spots on the School Leadership Team for the 2024 -2025 school year. Please read their statements, below. The candidates are (in no particular order):

Jennifer Stringer 

I’m Jennifer Stringer, the mom of a 3rd grader here at PS 321.  Our time at 321 has been filled with wonderful teachers, engaging classroom communities, and an active school network.  As a former educator and a current parent, I know firsthand what a delicate balance this can be and how crucial it is to make thoughtful decisions that further our school mission.  

In my work as a teacher, an edtech consultant, and now as a leadership coach, I’ve honed my skills in active listening, creative problem solving, and communication.  I’m able to quickly build rapport, empathize with others, and ask thoughtful questions, all of which will be assets I will draw from.  I hope to join the SLT at 321 and use my skills to improve our student experience and sustain our school community. 

Melissa Herman 

My name is Melissa Herman, I have a graduating 5 th grader and a younger child who is currently in 2 nd grade at PS 321. My husband and I are both lifelong New Yorkers and have lived in the neighborhood since 2011. I have spent most of my career working in education, initially organizing college and career readiness programs and project-based learning opportunities in NYC Public Schools, and then at the City University of New York (CUNY) working in the office that interfaces with NYC Public Schools and works to improve students’ experience transitioning from high school to college. I left CUNY a couple of years ago to pursue my PhD in education policy. I am now a student at Teachers College, Columbia University, and a part-time researcher at the Community College Research Center based at Teachers College. I have enjoyed being involved in the PS 321 school community in various ways, participating in the Walkathon, volunteering at the Spring carnival, and attending the Moveable Feast among many other things. My children have had a wonderful experience at the school, academically as well as socially. I would like to contribute what I can to supporting PS 321 and hope to be considered for an open spot on the School Leadership Team.

Shannon Jones

Hi there PS321 Community! I’m Shannon Jones and I’ve had the privilege of calling myself a PS 321 parent for the past 4 years. I have been continually amazed and inspired by the quality and quantity of positive opportunities our school community provides to students, staff and families. I spent 13 years as an educator, both in the classroom as a teacher as well as out of the classroom as an administrator, which means I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of elementary schools. So, when I say PS321 is a special school, I really mean it. 😊 I’ve since transitioned into a new career path outside of education, and with my new role I have much more bandwidth and time and would like to use that to positively contribute to our SLT and greater PS321 community, as a thank you for all this school community has given my daughter and I over the years. From school fundraising and critical family communication to standardized testing logistics and strategic planning, I’ve worked in all these areas and would like to contribute this lens of experience to SLT meetings to help contribute ideas and work out operational/logistical details to help bring other’s ideas to life. PS321 is a community, one where I can drop off my daughter each day and walk away trusting that she is safe, seen and surrounded by an ecosystem of support and for that I am so grateful. I’m also grateful to be considered for SLT, where I would want to work to support the continued growth of our beautiful PS321 ecosystem. Yours in partnership, Shannon Jones

Tara Gallagher 

I’m Tara Gallagher. My daughter is finishing 1st Grade and my son will start Pre-K at 321 in the fall. I have served as a class parent for the past two years and volunteered in many other ways: for Meet the Writers and the carnival, at the bake sale and book sale, as a lunch helper and salad server, and as a chaperone on field trips. I’ve loved seeing kids at school, getting to know families, and learning about our community.  

In my conversations with 321 students, parents, teachers, and staff I am struck by how much happens in this big school—how wide the range of the students’ interests and needs. I’m running for the School Leadership Team because I want to know more about how 321 works and because I think I can contribute to the work to be done.

I recently completed my training to become a psychoanalyst, before which I taught in the Columbia University Writing Center. In both roles, I have worked to listen, understand ongoing processes, respect the goals of a meeting, and challenge cherished narratives (including my own). Both roles have also taught me about communicating across differences—cultural, political, temperamental—and about being alert to the ways in which my own life experiences affect my responses to others. I know how to pay attention to what is said, notice what is not said, and ask questions that further collaborative thought.

My son will be among the youngest in the new building, and I’m especially interested in efforts to connect the upper and lower grades. But I’ll join those efforts whether I’m on the SLT or not! I’m running for the School Leadership Team because everything I’ve learned about 321 in the past two years makes me want to learn more. I’m confident that I can put my interest, as well as my experience, to work for our whole community. I hope you’ll give me the chance to serve on the SLT!

Jennifer Halpin

Hello! My name is Jennifer Halpin. I am grateful for this opportunity to introduce myself and ask for your vote for our School Leadership Team. My son James Halpin Cyrillo is a kindergartener. He has an IEP which specifies ICT, speech and OT. My husband and James’ dad Mars is from Brazil. We appreciate the support of PS 321 and the special coffee community that Assistant Principal Liz McCormack created this year for parents of children with IEPs and neuro-diverse children.

I was President of Old First Nursery School for two years – it’s the oldest cooperative preschool in New York and there is no paid administration. The parents are responsible for all aspects of the school from Department of Health permits, insurance, hiring teachers, managing the treasury, and maintaining a buildings and grounds relationship with our renter, Old 

First Church. It’s an incredible, supportive community of Park Slope families and I continue to serve on the school’s Advisory Board. 

I spent most of my career in Children’s Television. I was Head of Programming at Nickelodeon Australia and launched the Nickelodeon brands Noggin and The N (Degrassi the Next Generation featured a guy named Aubrey Drake Graham. ) I started my career Programming the Saturday morning cartoons on ABC TV Network and later worked at Qualcomm’s FLOTV and IFC TV. Kids media and online safety are a personal passion and I applaud PS 321’s efforts to follow recommendations from Mother’s Against Media Addiction. 

This year I was on the PS 321 Spring Gala Auction Committee and helped secure over $12,000 in sponsorships and donations.

Currently, I’m a Health Coach (Certified by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition) and a Fitness Instructor with Move Run Play in Prospect Park. I am passionate about helping busy superwomen prioritize themselves and their longevity to keep up with their young families. I’d like to organize a new diversity group for older mom’s at PS 321 who may be navigating peri-menopause and their young children’s big feelings. 

Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself. I look forward to an opportunity to serve PS 321 on the School Leadership Team next year.