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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of September 1, 2014

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

As I write to you, the rain is pouring down, the sun is shining and there is a giant rainbow outside my window.   Today misleadingly feels like a typical (although, perhaps not this year) muggy NYC summer day.  Yet... tomorrow is the first day of September.  It always amazes me that even after many years of teaching, I get the back-to-school butterflies at this time of year.  Speaking with other TNS staff this past week, all of them busy readying classrooms, I realize that this feeling is shared; we are all eagerly anticipating the start to another school year.

Thursday, September 4th is the first day of school!  This year we will start each school day at 8:25am.  Breakfast will be served each morning beginning at 7:45.  The school day will end at 2:45pm (This is 5 minutes earlier than last year).  Late pick-up will be in the P.T.A. room (next to the small cafeteria).  Pre-K and kindergarten students will be dismissed at 11:35am all this week.

On Friday, September 5th, representatives from several After School Programs including Wingspan,  University Settlement,  Boys Arts Express and the Boys Club will be available to meet with families in the lobby at drop off (8:30am).  Scholarships are available for all afterschool programming.  

I look forward to catching up with many of you at the PTA sponsored Welcome (back) Picnic on Wednesday, September 3rd in the recess yard from 3 - 6pm.  You will have an opportunity to meet many of our new staff and families and also see familiar faces (and perhaps assuage some of those butterflies).  

See you in 4 days.  I can’t wait.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

August 8, 2014

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

As I mentioned in my last letter, construction is in full-swing at TNS.  All the work done over the summer means construction is on schedule; all paint and asbestos will be removed from the exterior of the building before the start of school.  Teachers, students and families will be able to remain in the building next year after 4pm and Wingspan and University Settlement will be back in the building providing on-site afterschool programming for our children.

As I head off for vacation, I want to update you about many exciting changes in our staff for next year.  Desmond Rudder is joining Colin to co-teach 4/5th ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching).  Shaquawn Parker is joining Dianne to co-teach the new kindergarten ICT.  Michiko Sugiyama is joining Laura to co-teach 4/5th ICT.   Jane Taylor is joining Chelsea to co-teach the new ⅔ ICT.  Olivia Occelli is joining Meg to co-teach ½ ICT.  Vanessa Depersiis will be our new full-time OT.  Tina Cella will be our guidance counselor and Carla Brun will be working with us through Hudson Guild.  I hope you will have a chance to meet many of them (and also see familiar faces) at the PTA sponsored Welcome (back) Picnic on Wednesday, September 3rd in the recess yard from 3 - 6pm.  

Very soon you will be receiving a letter and supply list from your child’s classroom teacher(s).  It will detail some important materials your child needs to get started this year.  Read it with your child (or have her/him read it to you).  Start getting excited.  It’s going to be a wonderful school year.  

See you soon,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

July 10, 2014

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

Our building is a mess; both inside and out!  The custodial staff has been working hard to move and ready classrooms for September.  Construction is underway each and everyday.  As I write this, construction workers are jackhammering (literally) outside our office window.  Thank goodness, Noemi and I have each other to keep sane!

As you may have read, the Neighborhood School was one of 62 schools city-wide selected to participate in the Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) program for the 2014 – 15 school year. The PROSE program was established as part of the new contract between the UFT and the DOE to allow schools to implement innovative plans that fall outside of the Chancellor’s Regulations or UFT contract.  TNS applied with a cohort of other like-minded schools:  The Earth School, Castle Bridge, CPE 1, CPE 2, Ella Baker, and Brooklyn New School.  

We spent a great deal of time talking about assessment this year at TNS; both of children and teachers.  Our PROSE proposal modifies the MOSL (Measures of Student Learning) and MOTP (Measure of Teacher Practice) portions of the DOE teacher evaluation structure by substituting collected student work, data and narrative reports for MOSL and classroom observations, narrative responses and one-to-one debriefs with teachers for MOTP. This process includes an emphasis on looking at student work, and reviewing informal and formal assessments.  It requires ongoing reflective inquiry, as well as revisions of teacher plans and practice in relation to review of student work, data and feedback. Together, teachers will align criteria to create goals and assess progress.  This collaboration, both with the grade level teams, other colleagues and parents, as well as partner schools, will allow teachers to conclude the year with a clear analysis of how they have grown as educators related to their actual performance in the classroom as opposed to a rating based on a student’s individual performance on an individual day.

We are excited about this opportunity to practice and demonstrate how we think about assessment, teaching and learning, and to build on our partnerships with other NYC public progressive schools.

To read more: http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/mediarelations/NewsandSpeeches/2013-2014/City+Schools+and+UFT+Announce+2014-2015+PROSE+Schools.htm.

I hope that you are enjoying this time with your children.  I’ll be in touch soon….

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of June 23, 2014

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

With only a few days remaining in this school year, I want to give you the final version of  the changing configuration of some of our classes for next year.  We will have four 4th/5ths, one 3rd/4th/5th, one 3rd grade, one 2nd/3rd class, three 1st/2nds, two kindergartens and two pre-K/Ks.  These changes mean that some students may not have the same teacher or friends in their class for next year.  Although that may feel a little unsettling to you now, we have given these changes much thought and feel sure that this is the right way to go.  We look forward to minimum discomfort for students and families in September and to real benefits from these changes. We will let you know your child’s class placement for next year tomorrow.  

As I explained in my letter last week, Star Academy and I have come to a compromise for next year that I believe will be very positive for our school community.   We will take two more rooms on the second floor, room 206 and 207, for a 1st/2nd grade class and our new kindergarten class.  We will also be moving Emily and our 4/5th grade classes from the 4th floor to the 3rd floor.  We will still have one room on the 4th floor for support services.  As a result, our school will occupy all the classrooms on the 3rd floor and more than half of the second.  In order to support the teachers who are moving, we are asking families to come in during camp days (Tuesday and Wednesday) to help teachers pack up their rooms.  Please reach out to Annalisa Birdsall at abirdsall@mac.com to sign-up.  Thank you!

Lastly, it is time to say goodbye to some beloved members of our teaching community.  Our guidance counselor, Lori is moving with her family to a new home on Long Island.  Tyler, our 3rd grade teacher is leaving teaching to go to law school.  Amy, our 4/5th grade teacher is retiring to pursue her art full-time.  Each one has contributed to TNS in profound ways.  We will miss them but know it is not goodbye, only see you later!

Just a reminder, Thursday is a half-day (and THE LAST DAY OF THE SCHOOL YEAR). Dismissal is at 11:30am.  

One morning last August, as I was out running in Cape Cod and ruminating about TNS (which I did almost the entire summer), I spotted the most perfect blue jay feather along the road.  Well, of course, it was a sign (along with the shooting stars I wished upon each night).  I have carried that feather with me everyday since then.  : )

No wishing or imagining could have prepared me for this past year.  I am so honored to have joined  such a remarkable community.  I hope that it is obvious to you how much I love being here and how much fun I’ve had working with you and your children this year. I hope you have a wonderful summer with your children, full of adventure and play and have lots of stories to share when we see each other again in September.  

I will miss you!

Love,

Dyanthe

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