PS 150 welcomes a new principal from the neighborhood

What’s better for a Monday read than a new, energized leader for a local school? A big Tribeca welcome to Nico Victorino, the recently installed principal of PS 150. He’s often on the sidewalk greeting kids as they arrive, so say hi if you pass by.

Victorino (rest assured he’s older than he looks) came to 150 from just down the street — he’s been an assistant principal at PS 276 for the past seven years, serving under founding principal Terri Ruyter since 2012, when he arrived there as a second grade teacher. It wasn’t an accident — he met her while in grad school at Teachers College, recognized that she was brilliant and followed her downtown.

“I’ve had the blessing to work with wonderful school leaders,” Victorino says. “And I will always work for women when I have the opportunity. My mom raised me and my brothers while working, on her own, so I know what women can do.”

Victorino was born in Manila and at age 3 came here, where his mother was already at the UN, having worked with an NGO in the Philippines. He finished college in three years and taught at a private school in Jersey until he left to get his degree in special ed. He was working at a school in Harlem in District 75 before he took a spot in one of the ICT classes at 276. In the meantime, he got his license for administration at Baruch. (He lives in Chelsea, so has a quick commute.)

Even as an AP he spent as much time as he could in the classroom, he said. “My job in part is to be a presence, for people to know who I am,” he said. “I coached, I was an advisor, I subbed. It’s what you make of the job, and I loved that school community.”

When this position came up (longtime principal Jenny Bonnet retired this summer) he jumped on it. He already knew what the school was about, and learned that much of the staff had been there for 20+ years — as good a sign of a healthy community as any, he said. “I could tell all the adults in the building care about what they do. And as a principal you want to know that it’s all hands on deck. It’s much more fulfilling that way.”

Of course he took the job knowing that little PS 150, with one class per grade tucked upstairs inside IPN, will move next year to a brand new building on Trinity Place and will expand to eventually house three classes per grade (450 kids overall). But he’s excited about that as well. He sees it as an opportunity — for both the current kids and his staff — to craft a culture. The school will grow gradually, so his first hires will be two new teachers, and he sees the decisions around the expansion as a collaborative effort with his staff.

He also leans on the collective knowledge of the neighborhood’s principals — both current and retired — and rattles off their names like a mantra: Ronnie, Terry, Dana, Jenny, Maggie, Nancy, Zeynep, Shanna.

“I have access to all this institutional memory from all the downtown principals. They have all been so generous, and I have a lot of support,” he says. “And then I have this staff, where I can really trust everyone to do the best job. I pinch myself every day — it’s like a dream.”