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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of November 23, 2015

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

The research is clear regarding the positive outcomes for all children when schools are diverse as measured by race, ethnicity, income level, language, and special education eligibility.  On Friday, Chancellor Fariña announced changes to admissions policies designed to promote diversity for seven elementary schools, including The Neighborhood School. As part of the new admissions pilot, we will give priority to students who qualify for free and reduced lunch (FRL) and English Language Learners (ELLs).  The changes will not affect returning students or siblings; it will impact pre-K and kindergarten admissions cycles for this upcoming school year.  

We hope that this pilot enables TNS to maintain and increase diversity in two demographical areas in which we differ greatly from most schools in District 1.  It is not a band-aid, nor is it end-goal by any means.  Moreover, it in no way encompasses the many varied and complex ways we think about diversity at our school and in our community.  At SLT, we recently discussed how a new and much earlier deadline of January 16 for kindergarten admissions will disadvantage many families.  As a school, we are reaching out to the Family Welcome Center, communities that are underserved in our school, and every Head Start and English Language program in the Lower East Side to ensure all LES families have the information they need to apply to TNS, if they so choose.  This pilot supports the mission of our school to “provide a lively and diverse educational community. We see our diversity as one of our great strengths. In our mixed age, heterogeneous classrooms, children of many different backgrounds learn to become part of a community that fosters not only tolerance but also true respect for all people.”  In addition to piloting this new admissions policy, we will continue to fight for equitable admission policies for all students in District 1.

To read more about this pilot, please check out the following links:




Mark Your Calendars:

  • Please join us for SING this Wednesday at 8:45am in the auditorium.  We will also have a bake sale beforehand, so please bring your appetite!

  • We have a TNS Half-day on Friday, December 4.  Dismissal is at 11:35am.

Whatever family traditions you honor this weekend, enjoy the long and very well deserved break with your children.  I hope that it feels restful and rejuvenating.  



Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of November 16, 2015

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

Friday’s events in Paris have shocked and deeply saddened us all.  Children will come in today, some knowing a lot about the tragic events, some not having heard at all.  Our approach at school is to listen carefully to children’s questions and take our cues from them.  We will keep to our routines and support children who exhibit any signs of stress.

This is the time of year that we once again begin school tours for prospective families.  Our 5th grade students lead tours and answer questions both during the tour and at the end, when we convene for Q & A.  Current TNS parents also join our 5th grade tour guides and are at the Q&A with Noemi and me, following the tour.  I love our tours; I love hearing our 5th graders and current parents talk about what makes our school community so special.  I am convinced that families who visit TNS will be impressed by our students, parents and school community.  

Friday is Fall Family Celebration!  Classes schedule celebrations at various times during the day.  Please check with your child’s teacher(s) about location.  Here is the schedule:

Judy/Michelle  12 - 1pm

Laurie/Dianna  12 - 1pm

Debbie/Yolanda  11:45 - 1pm

Shaquawn/Dianne/Elsie/Haydee/Hughes  11:30 - 12:30pm

Dara  12 - 1pm

Erin  11:30 - 12:30pm

Olivia/Chelsea/Mildred  12 - 1pm

Christie/Meg/Melissa  12 - 1pm

Grace  11:30 - 12:20pm

Jane/Joanne/Daniel  1:30 - 2:30pm

Sofia  8:45 - 9:45am

Alexis/Corinthia/Lori/Fidelina  11:30 - 12:20pm

Desmond/Hannah/Liz/Louis  11 - 12pm

Michiko/Laura/Carmen/Jeri  8:30 - 9:30am


Mark Your Calendars:

  • The School Leadership Team (SLT) will meet today in Danette’s room at 5:30pm.  The SLT is a committee made up of elected parents and teachers.  Monthly meetings are for the School Leadership Team Representatives and are open to all TNS families.  

  • We will have our Town Hall Meeting with Star Academy families tomorrow at 8:30am in the cafeteria.  The School Construction Authority (SCA) will give construction and security camera updates.  

  • Advocacy Committee will meet on Wednesday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.  For those who don’t know what the Advocacy Committee is about: they have traditionally worked to bring the school community’s attention to the issues that are “out there” in the political realm and that impact what goes on in classrooms day-to-day.  Recently these issues have centered around standardized tests, charter schools and the state education budget.  They welcome any and all ideas on these subjects, or anything else that needs to be brought to their attention!

  • Please join us for our November PTA meeting on Thursday, November 19 at 8:40am.  Teachers and I will discuss what Special Education looks like at TNS.

  • SING:  Wednesday, November 25 at 8:45am.

  • Thanksgiving Break:  NO SCHOOL November 26 - 27.

Have a wonderful week,


News & Announcements

Calling all Book Fair Volunteers!!!

A Great Book Fair Can NEVER

Have Too Many Volunteers!

From 12/8-12/11 and at the Holiday Fair on the 13th The Neighborhood School is holding its annual Scholastic Book Fair to motivate students to read more. But we need some help!!! Join our volunteer group and help us plan and run TNS’s best reading event ever!  

We are meeting in the small lunchroom just below the PTA room on Tuesday 11/17th at drop off to discuss the logistics. 

These are some of the areas we need help with…

•  Advertising
 •  Decorating
•  Setting up the Fair 
•  Organizing the teacher’s wish lists
•  Helping shoppers at the Fair
•  Working at the Fair
 •  Packing up the Fair

We would appreciate all that you can do! Contact Nanine Blomstrom at 646-339-1287 or

via email: nanineib@me.com.  Thank you!!!!

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of November 9, 2015

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

This past summer, I was chatting with a neighbor in Cape Cod about her 3rd grade daughter’s experience in the Boston public schools and our conversation turned to homework.  While I was able to speak articulately about reasons why a family may or may not opt their child out of the state tests in elementary school, I was flabbergasted when she explained that after a great deal of research and reflection, she and her husband had decided to opt their daughter out of homework.  What?!  So began my own inquiry into the culture of homework... in our society and our school.  “Homework” will be the topic for my next morning hour tomorrow at 8:30am in the PTA room.  Like last month, I searched for an article to ground our discussion, and once again turned to Alfie Kohn.  Although “Rethinking Homework” is written with administrators in mind, I think it makes some good points and offers interesting ways for us to think about homework at TNS.  

Mark Your Calendars:

  • There is NO school on Wednesday, November 11 in observance of Veterans Day.

  • The PTA Executive Meeting is Thursday at 8:30am in the PTA room.  All families are welcome.

  • The School Leadership Team (SLT) will meet Monday, November 16th  in Danette’s Room at 5:30pm.  The SLT is a committee made up of elected parents and teachers.  Monthly meetings are for the School Leadership Team Representatives and are open to all TNS families.  

  • We will have our Town Hall Meeting with Star Academy families on Tuesday, November 17 at 8:30am in the cafeteria.  The School Construction Authority (SCA) will give construction and security camera updates.  



Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of November 2, 2015

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

There is no school for students tomorrow.  The teachers and I will be participating in the conference “What Does Progressive Education Mean to Our Schools?” with staff from The Earth School, Castle Bridge, CPE 1, CPE 2, Ella Baker, and Brooklyn New School.  It is an opportunity for like-minded progressive schools with a long history of collaboration to share ideas and best practices.  Workshops will be facilitated by teachers and topics include:  gender fluidity, emergent curriculum, mixed age classrooms, anti-racism work in classes and schools, project/activity time, sustainability and gardening, and project based assessments in elementary school.  

Twice each year we hold family conferences.  They provide an opportunity for teachers, together with the child, to talk with the adults in each child’s family about the child’s work and progress in school.  Family conferences are this week.  The building will be open for evening conferences on Wednesday.  Thursday is a half-day for conferences.    If you have not done so yet, please make sure to sign-up for a conference time with your child’s teacher.

I am thrilled to share that our submission to the 2015-16 Arts for ELLs and Students with Disabilities grant program was approved for funding!  This project brings ArtsConnection, an organization that has worked successfully with the Neighborhood School for over ten years supporting dance instruction, to develop theatre and acting curricula aligned with the NYCDOE Blueprints for Teaching and Learning in the Arts. Through improvisational acting, collaborative staging, and character development, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students will discover how to use their bodies and voices as effective means of expression and will improve awareness of their bodies in space. Storytelling and solo/group exercises will help students learn how to perform scenes for the stage as they build dramatic stories from their improvisations. Explorations of environment, ambiance, stage directions, and staged images will engage the students as directors and designers. The residency will conclude with a performance of original scenes for their schoolmates and families.  

Mark Your Calendars:

  • Original Works:  I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to permanently showcase your child’s artwork while raising PTA money to help pay for the valuable learning experiences we provide our children! The deadline for submitting your order is today.    If you have any questions about Original Works program, feel free to contact me at bbrreetttt@gmail.com.

  • Election Day is November 3.  No School (for students).

  • Thursday, November 5 is a half-day for family conferences.  Dismissal is at 11:35 a.m.

  • No School on Wednesday, November 11 in observance of Veterans Day.

I hope that you were able to enjoy the extra hour we had yesterday, when we set our clocks back one hour.  Please remember that our younger children have 50 minutes outside to play; make sure that they are adequately dressed for the colder weather.  



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