Home » Principal Daniel Peou Creates a Family Atmosphere at Furness Middle School in South Philadelphia

Principal Daniel Peou Creates a Family Atmosphere at Furness Middle School in South Philadelphia

by Surya Narayan
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Walking into Horace Furness School in South Philadelphia feels like stepping into a loving, supportive family, thanks in large part to the leadership of Principal Daniel Peou.

Peou arrived in Philadelphia as a young immigrant from Cambodia in 1981, and Furness Middle School became his home. Today, he is the school’s principal and has transformed Furness into a hub for the community.

Under Peou’s leadership, Furness has become a point of pride for everyone involved. He purposely cultivates a family-like environment through an open-door policy for students who need support, working through problems and conflicts together, hosting events, creating community partnerships, and more. Peou and his staff make an effort to greet students in the morning, check on them during the day, and walk them outside during dismissal.

Being an immigrant himself, Peou understands the challenges that students who are English learners face. Fully half of Furness’s 750 students are English learners, with no fewer than 18 different languages spoken at their homes. Peou is committed to providing them with a safe and nurturing environment that encourages them to thrive.

As a young immigrant in South Philly, he found a home at Furness. With him as principal, the school has become a neighborhood hub. “Once you come to Furness,” said Daniel Peou, “you are family.”

Peou is also passionate about working with children, a passion he discovered while doing volunteer work as a classroom assistant. Despite the challenges of returning to grad school for an education degree, he persevered and became a bilingual counseling assistant, a teacher at Eliza Kirkbride Elementary School, and a climate manager at John Taggart Elementary School. He returned to Furness as an assistant principal in 2008 and became principal in 2012.

One of Peou’s many strengths is his ability to work with anyone as long as it’s for the benefit of the students. He has formed partnerships with different organizations, including the University of Pennsylvania’s library to raise money to purchase new books for the Furness library. Peou’s dry sense of humor also helps him connect with new students and break down walls if they are being aloof.

Furness’s sense of community extends far beyond the school walls. During the pandemic, Peou and teachers dropped materials and food off at students’ homes if they needed it. Peou and his staff took over the distribution of Thanksgiving gift baskets from the Philadelphia Police Department and found greater success by doing so.

Peou sums up Furness’s sense of community by saying, “Once you come to Furness, you are family.” We are thankful for principals like Daniel Peou who go above and beyond to create warm and supportive environments for students.

Source: https://billypenn.com/ Original article written by: Eden MacDougall

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