P.S. 229 strikes a new chord - Former music teacher named assistant principal

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A union rep turned educator is staying put in District 20.

At last week’s meeting of District 20’s Community Education Council (CEC), Robert Zappulla was officially appointed an assistant principal at P.S. 229, 1400 Benson Avenue.

Zappulla first joined P.S. 229 as a music teacher.

“When I first met Bob, I was immediately impressed with his intelligence and knowledge,” said Principal James Harrigan.

Zappulla’s colleagues were too and they selected him to be the school’s United Federation of Teacher’s (UFT) chapter leader in 2001.

“His organizational skills were exemplary,” Harrigan said. “He does everything with a tremendous amount of skill.”

“I always appreciated his ability to analyze situations and anticipate problems and provide solutions to the problem,” Harrigan continued. “Bob is organized, detailed-oriented, sensitive, has empathy for others, and can take a vision and turn it into a practical goal.”

Ellen Driesen, School District 20’s UFT representative, said she misses working with Zappulla.

“He is a voice of reason,” Driesen said. “He really, really cares about the learning that goes on for children.”

“I know it’s well deserved,” she said of his appointment.

But she joked, “I may never speak to Jim Harrigan again.”

Zappulla was grateful for the kind words and seemed overwhelmed when P.S. 229’s staff and Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) gave him a standing ovation.

“I’ve learned so much from the teachers,” he said. “I continue to learn daily from our principal.”

“We will continue to do the best we can to make this a school of excellence where staff and families will continue to want to come,” Zappulla said.

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