Houston Elementary principal to depart Mt. Airy for South Philly

 (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks, file)

(Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks, file)

Henry H. Houston Elementary will have a new principal next school year.

After six years with the Mt. Airy public school, Principal Kim Newman is leaving to lead the Chester Arthur School, a K-8 school in South Philadelphia.

Principal Reginald Johnson, who heads James Alcorn Elementary in Grays Ferry, will replace Newman.

She’ll be missed.

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“She handles her business. I’m sorry to see her go,” said Tammy Davis, a special education classroom assistant.

Davis, a school district veteran, joined Houston in September, but said Newman ranks among the best principals she’s worked with.

She was particularly impressed by Newman’s visibility in the school.

“She’s an out front person. She’s in and out of the classrooms. She’s in and out of the hallways. Every time you go somewhere there’s Ms. Newman,” said Davis.

Standing outside of school on Thursday, Meredith Haskins had a hard time choosing what part of Newman’s leadership she liked best.

Haskins, president of the Houston’s Home & School Association, landed on Newman’s availability.

“You could always walk in her office and, as a parent, ask her and talk to her and she would be right there – stop what she was doing just to hear your concern,” said Haskins.

Marilyn Cohen, executive director of West Mt. Airy Neighbors, called Newman a positive piece of the neighborhood. She noted that Newman was both committed to students and concerns “beyond the four walls of the building.”

“That was really refreshing,” said Cohen.

Newman supported the community’s efforts to keep Houston Playground — which is maintained by the community but sits on school grounds — a neighborhood asset.

Newman was not available for comment. Johnson did not immediately return an interview request.

A district spokesperson said it was Newman’s decision to accept the job at Chester Arthur.

Alcorn Elementary, one of the school district’s lowest-performing schools, will become a Renaissance turn-around school come September.

Universal Companies, a charter school operator, is slated to manage the school.

Under the initiative, principals may or may not remain at the school after a match with a charter school operator is finalized.

Current Chester Arthur Principal Renee Musgrave is retiring at the end of the school year.

Friday is the last day of school for all public school students in the city.

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