2019 Blackboard Award Honoree: Principal Jessica Orleans

Photo by Andrew Schwartz

The River School P.S. 281
Principal Jessica Orleans
Grades Pre-K-5
425 East 35th Street

Award: Outstanding Principal

Describe your school’s core educational philosophy.

We strive to educate the whole child by providing an inclusive environment where students can grow intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically. Our mission as a school is to inspire a love of learning in our students, not just about books and numbers, but also about the world around them. We encourage our students to be independent thinkers and to feel safe taking intellectual risks. We believe that students should have the opportunity to express their talents and interests in many ways and strive to provide multiple experiences to enhance their learning.

Tell us about a few of the school’s achievements or distinguishing programs:

As a growing school we celebrate achievements, both big and small. From Alice, a Pre-K student, spelling her name for the first time to Veronika, a fifth grader, entering a distinguished writing contest at Columbia University, every day is filled with new reasons to celebrate success. Our close proximity to the East River lends itself to our “River-isms.” Whether it is our River Ready system to promote prosocial behavior, River Raves sent home to celebrate success, or Rivergrams sent each February to students and staff, we’ve created a dynamic school-wide language that embraces our vision of nurturing academically and emotionally intelligent, self -aware children.

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What’s new?

The River School, in its sixth year, now serves students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. With our first graduating class next spring, we will soon be sending our 5th graders off to middle school! We are excited to begin implementing RULER, an evidence-based approach for integrating social emotional learning into our school. This program builds a shared language and awareness in the community around emotional intelligence.

What do you love about your school?

Our school, situated close to the United Nations, welcomes students from all over the world. With our foreign born students representing over 30 countries, this diversity enhances all aspects of our school community. Our team’s differentiated approach to teaching and learning is evident at every level and in every aspect of school life. With amazing parent support, our devoted staff works hard to create a strong, supportive, and nurturing community for all learners to succeed.