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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 11, 2019

Dear Families,

For the past 6 years, our school has had a high opt-out rate with respect to NY State Math and English Language Arts tests.  Last week, I learned that last year and moving forward, all opt-outs will be weighted as 1s (well below proficient in standards) and will be included in our State Performance Accountability Data.  Opting out of the NY state tests will NOT penalize individual students; they will continue to be recorded as opt outs.  The DOE seems unclear about what this means for schools with high opt out numbers like TNS.  For now, TNS and others are on “potential Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) Status.” I hope to have more information to share at our next PTA meeting on Thursday, March 21.

We will continue to support the families who choose to opt-out their children out of the tests and equally support those who do not.  TNS students who do not take the state tests will continue the important and meaningful work they engage in everyday.  Grade 3 – 5 families are asked to speak to their teachers about opting out of the State Tests during conferences so we can organize staffing and materials accordingly.   

Teachers and I will meet with families Tuesday morning at 8:35AM to discuss the implications of standardized testing and test prep in NYC elementary schools.  Our opt out numbers have allowed us to maintain higher standards for assessment and to enjoy greater academic freedom in curriculum.  Grace and Sofia will talk about the challenges and pressure teachers and students faced when when test prep and the state tests played an important role at TNS.  Anthony and Mara will share their experiences working at other NYC DOE schools. Please join us for this very important meeting.

Mark your calendars.  It’s a really busy week at TNS:

  • Olivia, Lindsey and Mildred leave with their class to the Manhattan Country School Farm Monday morning; they return Wednesday.  Jane’s class leaves Wednesday and returns Friday afternoon.

  • Family conferences are this week!  Please be sure to sign-up for a conference time with your child’s teacher.  Wednesday is late night conferences and Thursday is a DOE half-day for conferences.  Dismissal is at 11:45AM. If you have any difficulty signing up for a conference, please call the school office and we will help coordinate a time for you.

  • There is a bake sale with meal deals Wednesday during conferences.  Folks can grab a slice of pizza and a cookie for $5! Or choose Mac N Cheese with a side of ‘slaw for $5!  Lots of other baked treats will be available, and we will also have coffee and juice available. This is a fundraiser for the TNS Yearbook + Graduation.

  • Pie Day is Thursday!  This is a fundraiser for the Farm and Camp trips.  Slices will be on sale at drop-off and all afternoon.  The cost? $3.14 per slice of pie.  Coffee is $2, or $1 if you bring your own mug

  • The ECO Committee meets Friday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • Hannah, Catlin, Shaniqua & Chelsea, Lindsey & Olivia, Matt and Joanne & Sofia’s classes go ice skating Friday.  

Have a good week,


Advocacy News

TNS graduates return to talk about middle school

For our family, one of the most important parts of the school tour was having 5th grade students guide us.  I was impressed by the confidence TNS had in its students, a confidence justified by the bright, thoughtful, and conscientious pair of students who took us from class to class and answered our questions with unexpected maturity.  We were lucky to have some TNS graduates back at school to help us parents once again!

This session was held at 6PM, February 13th.  Several graduates from the Neighborhood School generously agreed to return.  They talked about their experiences transitioning from TNS to middle school, and took a few questions from parents.

This was the second information session in a series organized with the Advocacy Committee.  If you missed the first session on assessment at TNS or would like to revisit our teachers remarks please see the video recording available here:


The other three sessions are:

1. “What assessment doesn’t look like at TNS?” on March 4, 8:30 AM

Dyanthe will talk about assessment systems and metrics used in most public schools in NYC and why/how TNS has been able to use measures more aligned with our progressive philosophy.

2. “State testing days at The Neighborhood School,” March 25, 8:30AM

Second/third and 4th/5th grade teachers and Dyanthe will share what testing days look like at TNS for students who take the tests and those who don’t.

3. “What is performance-based assessment?”, date TBD

Learn about The Neighborhood School’s pilot program using Performance Based Assessment for graduating students

These information sessions are organized in collaboration with the Advocacy Committee, an independent parent- and guardian-led group dedicated to informing the school community about education policy.  For more information or to get involved please contact the advocacy committee at TNS.

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 4, 2019

Dear Families,

Family conferences are next week!  Please be sure to sign-up for a conference time with your child’s teacher.  Wednesday is late night conferences and Thursday is a DOE half-day for conferences.  Dismissal is at 11:45AM. If you have any difficulty signing up for a conference, please call the school office and we will help coordinate a time for you.

Please join us Tuesday at 8:40AM in the PTA Room for a discussion about the ways TNS does not do assessment.  Many other schools get caught up with test preparation, so much so that it affects curriculum.  Dyanthe, Grace, Sofia, Mara and Anthony will share their thoughts about what we don’t to do at TNS, and their experiences with other educational environments focused on testing and test preparation.  This will be the third information session in a series organized with the Advocacy Committee. If you missed the first session on assessment at TNS or would like to revisit our teachers’ remarks please see the video recording available here: http://tnsny.org/posts/view_news/6512

One unique aspect of the Neighborhood School is parent access to classrooms at drop-off and pick-up.   Being in the classroom builds connections, both with the community and to the curriculum and the ability to escort your child to and from the classroom is something we value very much and is not typical of most DOE schools.  However, these are not times to have in-depth conversations with your child’s teacher.  Please reach out to set-up another time to meet if you have something important to discuss.  Noemi or I are also happy to support scheduling a meeting for you.

Mark your calendars:

  • The Diversity Committee is hosting a potluck on Wednesday from 5:30 - 7:30PM in Mara’s Room.

  • SLT meets Thursday at 8AM in Room 313.  All are welcome.  


  • Literacy Documents for families

  • Library Update

  • Teacher Differentiation Survey results and noticings

  • CEP (Comprehensive Educational Plan) work

We have PE in the upstairs gym this month.



News & Announcements

Hamilton Raffle!

Hamilton raffle

This is the month of overnight trips for TNS students!  4/5 classes left this morning for Camp Ashokan and in two weeks, our 2/3 classes will take turns going on the amazing Farm Trip!  What better time to show your support AND win tickets to see the Broadway smash hit, Hamilton!

Starting tomorrow, you can buy raffle tickets in the school lobby.  1 ticket is $5 and 5 tickets will be $20.  There will be TWO drawings; each drawing wins 2 prime seats.  Buy two raffle tickets for the chance to win 4 Hamilton seats!!  Drawing will be Friday, March 8 at 3:00 in the school garden.  

Anyone can buy tickets, even people outside of the TNS community, so spread the word!  

Come find us in the lobby during drop-off on Wednesday, February 27 through Friday, March 1st, as well as at dismissal on Monday, March 4 through Friday, March 8th. 

We will accept cash or checks made out to “The Neighborhood School PTA .”

Don’t throw away your shot!!  

- 2/3 Grade Teachers

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of February 25, 2019

Welcome Back Families,

Our 4th and 5th graders leave for Camp Ashokan this Wednesday!  The Ashokan Center’s trails and outdoor campus offers students the opportunity to hike to the depths of the 350 million year old Cathedral Gorge and the Turnwood-Ashokan Covered Bridge.  Programming includes history, natural science including watershed studies and ecology, community building, the arts and stewardship/service learning and sustainability.  We expect that ALL students to go to camp.  The trip is an essential part a child’s TNS experience and reflects our values about how children learn best.  Please reach out to your child’s teacher, me or Noemi if you have any questions about your child participating in this trip.  

During Building Council last Friday, the principal of STAR and I met with custodial and kitchen staff about the Alternative School Menu which was adopted by TNS/STAR last spring.  While the kitchen staff has recently added tuna sandwiches as an alternative entree (in addition to PB&J, cheese sandwiches or hummus), since adopting the alternative menu, overall entree orders have decreased and food waste has increased.  Our kitchen manager, LaToya will present at this Thursday’s PTA Meeting.

It’s at this time each year that the Department of Education (DOE) Parent Survey comes out.  The DOE survey gathers information about family’s overall satisfaction with the school and the results are published and used to determine our official rating. Completion rates are also important as they reflect the level of parent involvement to the DOE.  Each TNS family needs to complete a survey so that the Chancellor knows that our parents are involved, informed, and are advocates for our children. Each student will receive a green envelope containing a hard copy of the survey to fill out along with postage-paid envelope. You can also complete the survey online using your access code (in the green envelope).  Thank you!

Mark your calendars:

  • The Diversity Committee meets Tuesday morning at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • SING is Wednesday at 8:45AM in the auditorium.  We will have a bake sale in the lobby beforehand.

  • The next TNS Restaurant Night is Wednesday from 4-11PM at Boticarios (58 East 1st Street).

  • Our PTA General Meeting is Thursday at 8:35AM in the PTA Room.