New PS 234 Leader, a Veteran Teacher, Is Called 'Smart, Reflective and Kind'

Dana Rappaport, left, with Lisa Ripperger, the principal she is replacing. Ripperger served as the PS 234 principal for 12 years. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Aug. 22, 2018

When Tribeca’s PS 234 reopens its doors to students next month, there will be a new woman at the helm to welcome them.

Dana Rappaport, 54, is the recently appointed interim acting principal, replacing Lisa Ripperger, who after 12 years resigned to lead a school in Dubai. One of three assistant principals at the much larger PS 321 in Park Slope for the past five years, Rappaport has spent most of the past 30 as a 1st and 2nd grade teacher at the Brooklyn school. (Ripperger also formerly taught at PS 321.)

Seated with Ripperger in her new office, Rapport said she looks forward to a smooth transition as she takes charge.

“Lisa has created such strong structures in this school, and I’ve seen them as we’ve worked together,” she said of her time this month while getting acquainted with the ways of her new school. She was struck, she said, by the dedication of staff who have met with her, or been in touch during their summer off.

“I feel really comfortable and confident,” she said. “It doesn’t take one person to run a school, it takes a whole group of people who have a mission together. That’s what I hope to continue as leader of this school.”

Rappaport’s bearing is even-keeled, her words carefully chosen and often accompanied by a broad, infectious smile. A resident of Windsor Park, near Park Slope, she is the mother of a daughter, 24, and son, 20, who both attended PS 321 and continued through public school. In the 1990s, she helped pilot a program that integrates children with special needs into general education classrooms. Special education, she said, remains her passion. “I also love literacy instruction and math instruction and I was a math leader as a teacher.”

Along with providing children with a strong foundation in math, science and reading, she said, she values the teaching of empathy. (“Yes, I believe it can be taught!”) “Learning about kindness and empathy and working together in teams will take you very far as a person, and will take you very far as an educated person,” she said.

In a telephone interview, Elizabeth Phillips, the PS 321 principal and Rappaport’s supervisor for nearly 30 years, called Rappaport “very smart, reflective and kind.”

“She’s also willing to make tough decisions which, as a principal, you sometimes have to do,” Phillips added. “She has all the different attributes that will make for a great principal in a wonderful school.”

Ripperger, who was to fly out the next day to Dubai, described her successor as calm, poised and curious, “but also very fun and good-natured. We’ve had a really good time.”

“I feel really confident and excited about knowing that the school is going to be in her hands and taken to the next era,” she said.

Asked if the two school leaders planned to stay in touch, Rappaport laughed. “Oh, I count on it,” she said. “Are you kidding? She knows everything! She says she will WhatsApp me from Dubai. And I really appreciate that. I will try not to bother her too much.”