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Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of 3.21.22

Dear Families,

The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade NY State English Language Arts test is next week. If you plan to opt your child out of testing, you must submit your request in writing.  Alternatively, you can complete the google form below.  If you plan to have your child take the state tests, they will need to practice since we do not do test prep at TNS.  You can get practice questions here:  http://www.nysed.gov/state-assessment/past-grades-3-8-tests.

We have our second workshop in the series “The Air We Breathe,” the Anti-Racism Workshop Series for TNS Parents and caregivers tomorrow at 6 PM. There are two different sessions, one for white parents and one for BIPOC parents.  The BIPOC workshop will create space to share stories, support & healing while reflecting on and identifying ways that white supremacy and anti-Black racism impact the daily lives of BIPOC people in school and beyond.  White parents & caregivers will learn how they are particularly affected by being in a white supremacist culture. They have internalized messages, values, and priorities that can lead to practices that center themselves and their thinking.  Learning to decenter whiteness leads to stepping back in powerful ways that create space for BIPOC to lead and find new ways of being active in the parent community. Together, parents & caregivers can think about their role in building a multiracial antiracist parent community.  You can register at this link. Newcomers are welcome!

Are you making summer plans?  Please check out the Konstella file about summer camps to learn more about offerings around NYC.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of 3.14.22

Dear Families,

Only 50% of our families have completed their The Department of Education (DOE) NYC School Survey.  The DOE survey gathers information about families’ overall satisfaction with the school, and the results are published and used to determine our official rating. Completion rates are also crucial as they reflect parent involvement.  Please complete your survey if you haven’t done so yet (you can reach out to Denise@tnsny.org if you need any help). 

We are canceling our testing meeting this Thursday since we had ample time for a Q&A last week, but please reach out to matt@tnsny.org or parent Peter Liem at pcl6510@gmail.com with any questions. You can also view recordings of previous testing meetings here.  

However, I hope you will have an opportunity to join us tomorrow for our PTA meeting.  We will devote most of the meeting time to looking at this year’s PTA and school budgets. Here’s the link:  

Finally, a reminder that Friday, March 18, is a TNS half-day.  Dismissal will be at 11:45 AM.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of 3.7.22

Dear Families,

Our school is founded on close collaboration among staff and a close partnership between home and school. In addition to my weekly communication with families, classroom teachers also send curriculum letters at least twice monthly to tell of upcoming events and inform families about what the class is studying. In addition, Oli, Maria, and Julia communicate with the families in each grade at least once every other month. 

Email correspondence has afforded us continual access to each other at any time of day and night.  In response, our school established some guidelines several years ago for the use of email correspondence so that families and school staff can attend to their respective responsibilities as thoroughly and as thoughtfully as possible. I am sharing them with you and hope that these guidelines will support us in mutually respectful correspondence.

As a reminder, we are hosting two meetings leading up to the 3rd, 4th and 5th-grade state tests.  The first is this Thursday, March 10, at 6 PM and is open to all TNS families. Teachers will share how they assess student growth and learning, make decisions about class instruction, and the place state testing plays in teaching and curriculum. I hope to see many of you there.  To register: https://bit.ly/TNSmtg.   

In the wake of the rise in Anti-Asian violence, fellow TNS parent and PTA Co-President, Aimée Chan-Lindquist, is organizing a series of self-defense workshops with Sensai Honma at Honma Dojo, a community non-profit martial arts Dojo located on St. Marks. The workshops will be on Tuesday morning or Friday afternoon, and more details will follow. These workshops are for adults only. Please reach out to Aimee directly if you are interested. chanquist@gmail.com (subject line: “Interested in Self Defense Workshop”).

I am resharing the article War, Crisis, Tragedy: How to talk with kids when the news is scary” as a resource to support conversations and next steps with your children about what is happening in Ukraine.  There’s evidence that talking about helpers makes a difference in how kids see their world.  We also want our kids to know that they can be helpers and make positive changes in our world.  There are many ways that families can help.  Please see the links below to find out more.

Warm regards,

Dyanthe

News & Announcements

Change in mask mandates beginning Monday, March 7

Dear Families,

This has been a week of significant news both globally and locally.  I am sure that you share my outrage and horror about what is happening in Ukraine and the uptick in anti-Asian violence around the city.  I will address how our community is responding to these events in my letter next week.  Still, I wanted to acknowledge these terrible events and their impact, especially on our Asian American children and families.  A parent shared an excellent article, “War, Crisis, Tragedy: How to talk with kids when the news is scary,” to support conversations with your children about what is happening.  

Today, mayor Adams announced that masks will become optional for all K-12 students and staff beginning Monday, March 7th.  However,  pre-K students will continue to wear masks since children under the age of five are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.  Other COVID safety measures like weekly random testing, daily screeners, increased ventilation, and test kit distribution will continue. 

The decision to not wear masks at school is a personal one that families and staff need to make based on their unique circumstances and individual risk calculations.  For example, families and staff must assess factors such as their sense of comfort and safety, vaccination status, underlying medical conditions, and pregnancy.  Additionally, they may consider family, colleagues, or high-risk classmates or cannot get vaccinated.  We understand the complexity of this decision and respect all our families and staff’s decision to do what is best for them and their loved ones.  

I want to share some data to help you make informed decisions about what is best for you and your family.  Our current school data, available publicly, shows that 81% of our students have received one or both doses of the COVID vaccination.  STAR Academy’s (the school we share the building with) vaccination rate is 45%.  If you have not yet uploaded your child’s vaccination status, please do so at https://vaccine.schools.nyc/.  Also, if you have not yet gotten your child vaccinated, you may want to consider doing so at this time as the mask mandate is lifted.

Teachers and students will talk about masks today.  

Thank you for keeping our community safe and inclusive.  It is imperative that all community members respect each other’s decisions on this issue. 

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of 2.28.22

Dear Families, 

At most schools around the city, test prep forms a significant part of the class curriculum beginning in 3rd grade. Students learn to fill out bubble sheets; teachers focus closely on materials covered in the tests; and there is little time for open, explorative, authentic learning. At TNS, by contrast, students and teachers offer a progressive model of education that values students’ intellectual and emotional development and encourages students to take active roles in their learning.  Parents have chosen our school because of our teaching and learning approach, which includes not interrupting rich and meaningful curriculum to do months of test prep.  Many of our parents have taken an active and outspoken stance to reject the state tests, as is their right. But, of course, we’re not perfect.  We are continually working to improve instruction through ongoing professional development.  We also use multiple “data sources” to inform our work with children.  But the state testing data is not one of them.  I encourage you to watch these videosof TNS parents, teachers, and me talking about assessment at TNS and state testing.

All parents have the right to opt their children out of the tests, and doing so will NOT penalize individual students; they will continue to be recorded as opt-outs. To opt-out, parents or guardians must simply let me know that they do not want the school to give the NYS standardized exams to their children.  The Advocacy Committee has provided families with a link to a google form (see below), but any written communication, including email, is sufficient.  

3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade families, please let your child’s teacher know during conferences this week if you plan to opt-out of the state tests so that we can organize staffing and materials accordingly.  We will continue to support the families who choose to opt their children out of the tests and equally support those who do not.  

We are also holding two meetings to share more information about assessment and testing over the next few weeks:  

Finally, as I am sure you have read, effective today, masks or face coverings are optional when outside on school grounds. Masks are still required for all students, staff, and visitors inside schools. We will also continue to maintain COVID-19 protocols, including increased ventilation, daily screeners to make sure those with symptoms do not come to school, and test kit distribution.  I will follow up with additional information about the new DoE mask guidelines in the next few days.

Warm regards,

Dyanthe

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