ABOUT PS 261

PS 261 Phillip Livingston

314 Pacific Street

Brooklyn, NY 11201

Tel: 718 330 9275

Fax: 718 875-9503

Mission

To create a school community that promotes cross-cultural relationships that value diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice across staff, families, and students. We believe that relationships are central to nurturing a sense of agency and intellectual engagement and are committed to building a school community that values all of its members and their ever-changing needs. We know the vision must be collectively owned so that all voices are heard and perspective is developed.  Every aspect of our school building should reflect equitable spaces that are socially, emotionally, and academically responsive to the community.


Administrative Team

Erica Davis, Principal  [email protected]

Sara Apfel, Assistant Principal  [email protected]

Alex Messer, Assistant Principal  [email protected]

Heather Weston, Parent Coordinator  [email protected]

Osdilia Caban, Pupil Personel Secretary  [email protected]

Barbara Steike, Payroll / Purchasing  [email protected]

Susan Machover, D75 Coordinator [email protected]


Erica Davis

Erica Davis,  Principal

Being a part of the 261 community is a full-circle moment for Erica. One of her first relatives to migrate North from the South made her home on Pacific Street, beginning a family legacy of public school teachers. More than 21 years ago, Erica joined this legacy as a teacher in District 17. She has taught both lower and upper grades, served as an instructional coach in schools across Brooklyn and Manhattan, and worked as a school-based and centrally-based administrator. In 2014, after teaching for 15 years at PS 234 in Manhattan, she became the school’s Assistant Principal, leading the development of their social studies curriculum, math instruction, and social-emotional program. More recently, during her tenure as an Instructional Lead at Brooklyn North Borough Office, Erica supported instruction across multiple schools and districts, working alongside superintendents and principals, and working directly in classrooms. Erica has spent much of her career supporting academic instruction, instructing teachers on ways to bring inquiry into their classrooms, and leading workshops to help parents learn how to better support children at home. 

Erica has also worked with Marilyn Burns as a math consultant for Math Solutions, which allowed her to support school districts across the U.S. A highlight from her undergraduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis is spending time abroad in Germany where she studied art history. She holds an M.S. in Education from Brooklyn College and an Ed. M. in Leadership from the Bank Street College Principals Institute where her research involved looking closely at how to better support boys in the early childhood classroom. Her passion for the arts comes from growing up in a noisy house in Michigan (three pianos, a drum set, a flute, a trombone, a clarinet, a violin, and a beloved stereo). She spent many nights steeped in the world of musicals, operas, symphonies, and jazz performances. Her days were spent digging up clay from the earth and gathering leaves to sculpt little creations and make paper. Aside from baking cookies with her many nieces, nephews, and cousins, she finds sitting in art galleries unbelievably relaxing.

Sara Apfel

Sara Apfel, Assistant Principal   [email protected]

This is Sara’s 12th year at PS261. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education from Mount St. Mary’s College, and her Masters in Literacy from NYU, as well as a Masters in Educational Administration from Brooklyn College. At PS261, she has been a student teacher, teacher, and now enjoys her role as Assistant Principal. As a former Special Education teacher, she is passionate about the rights and needs of all students. Sara enjoys visiting her childhood home in upstate New York with her husband Karl and two young children.

Alex Messer

Alex Messer, Assistant Principal, I.A.  [email protected]

Alex entered teaching via the NYC Teaching Fellows in 2004. He spent his first five years teaching for a Title I Elementary school, and from there moved to PS 321. At 321, Alex worked as a classroom teacher and also partnered with Metamorphosis, the Reading & Writing Project, and the Math Collective to spearhead Professional Development work surrounding conferring, curricular development, and technology. Alex then moved into the role of Math Coach, where he has worked for the past 2 years to help expand the school’s adoption of the ENGAGE curriculum, differentiated games and centers, and use of technology in math instruction – which included the creation of the math community website, www.ps321math.com. As Math Coach, Alex also taught in both upper and lower grade classrooms, collaborating with teachers to try to tease out those “aha” moments of joy in learning for students. Alex received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from NYU, his Masters in Elementary Education from Brooklyn College, and his School Building Leadership Certificate in Administration from Baruch College. He is a lover of great movies and great food. And above all – in his work inside and outside the classroom – an advocate for those “aha” moments of inquiry and discovery… and championing the ideas, the systems, and the practice that help them happen as much and as often as possible.

Heather Weston, Parent Coordinator  [email protected]

This is Heather’s 6th year as Parent Coordinator at PS 261. Her daughter was a student at PS 261 for 7 years. During that time she became a part of the 261 community as an active member of the PTA, SLT, and Learning Leaders.  Heather was brought up in a military family and spent most of her time growing up in California. She attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California as a photography major. Before deciding to try something new as a city employee she was a professional photographer. Currently, in addition to working for the DOE, she works on special projects and is currently photographing and writing a book about Dogs living in New York City.


Katia Mezer, Barbara Steike, and Osdilia Caban

Pupil Personel Secretary, Osdilia Caban [email protected]

Osdilia became a part of PS261 in 2007 as a Family Worker for the school’s Assessment Team. Born in Brooklyn, she moved to Puerto Rico with her family at the early age of seven. After graduating from high school, she went on to study at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico where she majored in Biology. After briefly attending college she moved back to New York in 2000 and has been here ever since. She is fluent in both English and Spanish which makes her a major asset to our community. Osdilia enjoys writing, spending time with her daughter Layla and her Pomeranian dog Precious.

Accounting & Payroll Secretary, Barbara Steike [email protected]61brooklyn.org

Family Assistant, Ketia Mezer