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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 12, 2018

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

Because the majority of our students have not brought up the Parkland, Florida shootings or responses to it, we have decided not to do a school-wide walkout on March 14th.  Some families may decide to sign their children out of school to join other protests around the city.  If you choose to do this, please let your child’s teacher know ahead of time and please be in the office no later than 9:45AM to sign your child out.   As always, teachers will continue to listen for what comes up and reassure children that they are safe in school.  I am attaching a helpful article for how to have conversations with young children to process grief and fear in a healthy way (thanks, Jane):  https://childmind.org/article/helping-children-cope-frightening-news/.  TNS does plan to participate in “March for Our Lives” Saturday, March 24th (more info to come).  We are also planning a conversation for TNS families about gun violence prevention.

It’s conference time.  In our early childhood classes, it is 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.  In our upper grades, children lead conferences, speaking about their work alongside teachers and families. Want to learn more about what your child is learning in Spanish, science or physical education?  Please stop by the Science Room (317) to meet with Emily, the Spanish Room (304) to meet with Catlin or the Office (307) to meet with Teddy!  Conferences will be held Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon (dismissal is at 11:45AM).

I often get the question, how does our school’s progressive approach to teaching and learning prepare kids for middle school and beyond?  Please join us Thursday at 8:30AM in the PTA room for our TNS graduates panel.  Former students will discuss how TNS prepared them for the challenges of middle school and high school, and much beloved 4/5th grade teacher (and former TNS parent) Amy Masters will moderate.

Mark your calendars:

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

  • The PTA Executive Meeting is Wednesday at 8:30AM in the PTA Room.  All are welcome.

  • Wednesday is Pi Day!  Buy a slice before or after school and support TNS!

  • Thursday is a half-day.  Dismissal is at 11:45AM.

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

  • Friday is Movie Night!  Come see Oscar winner Coco at 6PM!  Kids cost $3 and adults are free.  



News & Announcements

Nominate your favorite teacher for a 2018 Blackboard Award!

Nominate your favorite teacher for a 2018 Blackboard Award!

Since 2002, Blackboard Awards have been honoring excellence in education in New York City. Take a moment to thank a teacher who adds so much to your child’s life and to your school community by nominating she or he for a 2018 Blackboard Award for Teachers.

You can submit your nomination here http://www.newyorkfamily.


Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 5, 2018

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

As I mentioned previously, our school recently participated in a Department of Education (DOE) 2-day evaluative process called the Quality Review.  Schools are rated underdeveloped, developing, proficient or well developed on 10 indicators.  I am so proud of our school!  Not because of our high ratings, but because it was absolutely clear to the reviewer how much staff and families care about our school.  We earned 7 well develops and 3 proficients.  

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.  If you are having any trouble signing up for a conference, please call the school office and we will help coordinate a time for you.

Please complete your Department of Education (DOE) Parent Survey.  The DOE survey gathers information about your overall satisfaction with our 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 student received 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.  Thank you!

Mark your calendars:

  • Parent’s of Unique Kids Support Group meets Tuesday morning at drop-off in Room 301.  This is a support group for parents and caretakers; it is an opportunity to share experiences, defeats, and strategies with each other.

  • The Wellness Committee meets Tuesday at drop-off in the PTA Room.

  • My Morning Hour is Wednesday morning in the PTA Room.  I will host an hour about reading development.  What does it look like?  What kind of books do children read when learning to read?  How do we identify struggling readers at TNS?  

  • I hope that you will join me between 6 - 10 p.m. for the TNS Spring Auction this Thursday at the Manny Cantor Center (197 East Broadway).  Even if you can’t make the Spring Auction Event, you can still get some great deals (and support TNS) at the online auction. Check it out: http://tnsny.org/auction.

  • Friday is a PD half-day.  Dismissal is at 11:45AM.  



News & Announcements

Join Girls on the Run at The Neighborhood School this Spring!

At Girls on the Run, girls learn life skills through fun, engaging lessons that celebrate the joy of movement. Trained volunteer coaches use a research-based curriculum to teach lessons through discussion, activities and running games. Girls meet twice a week for ten weeks, and the season concludes with a 5k run/walk that every girl in the program successfully completes.

Any girl grades 3-5 can join! Your child does not have to be sporty or athletic-- all ability levels are welcome.  

The program fee of $300 includes 20 lessons, a program t-shirt and materials, healthy snacks after each lesson, and registration for the Girls on the Run 5k run/walk event.  Registration is available online at gotrnyc.org/register.  Note: Scholarships are available.   

Season Details:
  • Girls on the Run practice will take place on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 3:00- 4:30 beginning on March 13th!
  • Practice will take place at the Neighborhood School and Tompkins Square Park. Pickup for all participants is in the lobby of the school. 
  • On inclement weather days, the team will still hold practice indoors.

Registration is now open at gotrnyc.org/register! Team size is 8 to 20 girls. For additional information about Girls on the Run NYC, visit gotrnyc.org or call 212.401.6377.  You can also reach out to Jane (asst coach) at jane@tnsny.org or Kimberly Wright (site liaison) at kimberly.lantay.wright@gmail.com

Advocacy News

A Well-Rounded Public School Education

The more likely explanation is that extracurricular education—one that focuses on skills beyond standardized testing and rankings—creates passionate citizens who are spring-loaded for citizenship.
They Were Trained for This Moment How the student activists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High demonstrate the power of a comprehensive education.

By Dahlia Lithwick

Feb 28, 2018

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma González gives a speech at a rally for gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Feb. 17.

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returned to class Wednesday morning two weeks and moral centuries after a tragic mass shooting ended the lives of 17 classmates and teachers. Sen. Marco Rubio marked their return by scolding them for being “infected” with “arrogance” and “boasting.” The Florida legislature marked their return by enacting a $67 million program to arm school staff, including teachers, over the objections of students and parents. Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill opted to welcome them back by ignoring their wishes on gun control, which might lead a cynic to believe that nothing has changed in America after yet another horrifying cycle of child murder and legislative apathy.

But that is incorrect. Consumers and businesses are stepping in where the government has cowered. Boycotts may not influence lawmakers, but they certainly seem to be changing the game in the business world. And the students of Parkland, Florida, unbothered by the games played by legislators and lobbyists, are still planning a massive march on Washington. These teens have—by most objective measures—used social media to change the conversation around guns and gun control in America.

Now it’s time for them to change the conversation around education in America, and not just as it relates to guns in the classroom. The effectiveness of these poised, articulate, well-informed, and seemingly preternaturally mature student leaders of Stoneman Douglas has been vaguely attributed to very specific personalities and talents. Indeed, their words and actions have been so staggeringly powerful, they ended up fueling laughable claims about crisis actors, coaching, and fat checks from George Soros. But there is a more fundamental lesson to be learned in the events of this tragedy: These kids aren’t freaks of nature. Their eloquence and poise also represent the absolute vindication of the extracurricular education they receive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

The students of Stoneman Douglas have been the beneficiaries of the kind of 1950s-style public education that has all but vanished in America.

Despite the gradual erosion of the arts and physical education in America’s public schools, the students of Stoneman Douglas have been the beneficiaries of the kind of 1950s-style public education that has all but vanished in America and that is being dismantled with great deliberation as funding for things like the arts, civics, and enrichment are zeroed out. In no small part because the school is more affluent than its counterparts across the country (fewer than 23 percent of its students received free or reduced-price lunches in 2015–16, compared to about 64 percent across Broward County Public Schools) these kids have managed to score the kind of extracurricular education we’ve been eviscerating for decades in the United States. These kids aren’t prodigiously gifted. They’ve just had the gift of the kind of education we no longer value.

Part of the reason the Stoneman Douglas students have become stars in recent weeks is in no small part due to the fact that they are in a school system that boasts, for example, of a “system-wide debate program that teaches extemporaneous speaking from an early age.” Every middle and high school in the district has a forensics and public-speaking program. Coincidentally, some of the students at Stoneman Douglas had been preparing for debates on the issue of gun control this year, which explains in part why they could speak to the issues from day one.

The student leaders of the #NeverAgain revolt were also, in large part, theater kids who had benefited from the school’s exceptional drama program. Coincidentally, some of these students had been preparing to perform Spring Awakening, a rock musical from 2006. As the New Yorker describes it in an essay about the rise of the drama kids, that musical tackles the question of “what happens when neglectful adults fail to make the world safe or comprehensible for teen-agers, and the onus that neglect puts on kids to beat their own path forward.” Weird.

The student leaders at Stoneman Douglas High School have also included, again, not by happenstance, young journalists, who’d worked at the school paper, the Eagle Eye, with the supervision of talented staff. One of the extraordinary components of the story was the revelation that David Hogg, student news director for the school’s broadcast journalism program, WMSD-TV, was interviewing his own classmates as they hid in a closet during the shooting, and that these young people had the wherewithal to record and write about the events as they unfolded. As Christy Ma, the paper’s staff editor, later explained, “We tried to have as many pictures as possible to display the raw emotion that was in the classroom. We were working really hard so that we could show the world what was going on and why we need change.”

Mary Beth Tinker actually visited the school in 2013 to talk to the students about her role in Tinker v. Des Moines, the seminal Supreme Court case around student speech and protest. As she described it to me, the school’s commitment to student speech and journalism had been long in evidence, even before these particular students were activated by this month’s horrific events. Any school committed to bringing in a student activist from the Vietnam era to talk about protest and freedom is a school more likely than not to be educating activists and passionate students.

To be sure, the story of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students is a story about the benefits of being a relatively wealthy school district at a moment in which public education is being vivisected without remorse or mercy. But unless you’re drinking the strongest form of Kool-Aid, there is simply no way to construct a conspiracy theory around the fact that students who were being painstakingly taught about drama, media, free speech, political activism, and forensics became the epicenter of the school-violence crisis and handled it creditably. The more likely explanation is that extracurricular education—one that focuses on skills beyond standardized testing and rankings—creates passionate citizens who are spring-loaded for citizenship.

Perhaps instead of putting more money into putting more guns into our classrooms, we should think about putting more money into the programs that foster political engagement and skills. In Sen. Rubio’s parlance, Marjory Stoneman Douglas was fostering arrogance. To the rest of the world, it was building adults.