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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of January 16, 2018

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

When The Neighborhood School was founded 26 years ago, we intentionally created mixed-age groupings for every grade band.  We believe that children are well served in mixed-age groups. They can work with a wide age range of classmates; mentor children younger (and sometimes older) than themselves; be mentored by classmates; and, because they are with the same teachers for two years, they are taught by those who know them on a deeper level.  We followed this model until 2006, when the Department of Education (DOE) moved 6th grade to middle school.  This shift left us with an odd number of grades and a decision about how to adjust our mixed-age groupings.  Ultimately, we decided to have 3rd grade stand alone.  This model has proven to be challenging, both philosophically and logistically.  

With the full support of our teachers and the School Leadership Team (SLT), we have decided to re-configure our mixed-age groupings beginning next year to Pre-K (stand alone); K/1; 2/3; and 4/5.  As with any decision that affects students and teachers’ daily experience and curriculum, the staff and SLT have spent time exploring the effects of this new configuration.  Teachers and I are confident that these new grade arrangements will continue to support our children’s educational and social-emotional needs within TNS’s progressive model.

I am sure you have many questions about these changes.  I will host an information hour Monday, January 22 at drop-off.  We will create an informational handout for those unable to attend.  I hope to see you there.

Mark your calendar:

  • TNS Auction Committee meets Wednesday at 8:40 AM in the PTA Room.

  • STAR and TNS family and friends are invited to the Library this Wednesday from 3 - 4:15 to make posters for the 2018 Women’s March.  Info about the Women’s March, Saturday January 20th:  The rally (starting at 11:30) will be at Central Park West & 61st/62nd street.  We will march (starting around 12:30) past Columbus Circle, East on 59th Street, and South on 6th Avenue.

  • Our January PTA General Meeting is Thursday at 8:40 AM in the PTA Room.  

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

  • Judy, Wanda, Dara, Shaniqua & Lindsey, Sofia & Joanne, Alexis & Corinthia, and Hannah’s classes go ice skating this Friday.  

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of January 8, 2018

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

Art is a vital part of children’s experience at TNS.  The arts often offer a “way in” to academic subjects for many children who learn best through modalities other than reading and writing.  In addition, the arts introduce different ways of seeing and understanding the world.  I am very excited to share that our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders will participate in a residency with New York City Ballet (NYCB) this semester.  Teaching artists will lead ten in-school movement workshops that focus on the creative process, culminating in a presentation of student generated choreography.  Students will be challenged to think critically, act creatively, and engage collaboratively as they learn how to choreograph their own group dances.  Students will also attend a lecture demonstration and a live performance at Lincoln Center.

Ice skating trips are around the corner and money for your child’s first trip is due to your child’s teacher today.  Each class ice skates two times during the winter:

  • Friday, January 19th:  Judy - Wanda -Dara - Shaniqua & Lindsey - Sofia & Joanne - Alexis & Corinthia

  • Friday, February 2nd:  ‪Erin - Dianne & Shaquawn - Jane - Olivia & Chelsea – Grace - Catlin & Caroline- Hannah

  • Friday, February 9th:  Judy - Wanda -Dara - Shaniqua & Lindsey - Sofia & Joanne - Alexis & Corinthia

  • Friday, March 2nd: ‪Erin - Dianne & Shaquawn - Jane - Olivia & Chelsea – Grace - Mara & Caroline - Hannah

Finally, I want to let you know about a shift in staffing that will happen at the beginning of the new semester.   After considerable thought, we are going to make the following change:  beginning the week of February 5, Mara will join Caroline to co-teach in the 4/5s and Catlin will begin teaching Spanish with the new round of classes and the 3rd grade, which has Spanish all year.  It is always challenging to make staffing changes mid-year and I am deeply appreciative and grateful to Mara, Caroline and Catlin for their willingness to ensure our students’ success.

Mark your calendar:

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

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

Best,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of January 1, 2018

Happy New Year Neighborhood School Families!

I am sending out my weekly letter a little early because it looks like we are in store for more very chilly weather this week.  Just a reminder: winter weather does not keep our students inside at recess.  It is very important that children come to school dressed for the weather.  Please make sure your child has all the necessary accessories (hat, scarf, mittens and snow pants) to stay warm and active outside!

Please join me for my Morning Hour Wednesday, January 11 at 8:40AM in the PTA Room for a discussion about mixed-age classrooms.  Most of our classes are grouped in multi-age configurations to allow each child to develop both academic and leadership skills.  When the school began, one fundamental belief we held was that children are well served in mixed-age groups where they can work with a wide range of classmates, mentor children younger (and sometimes older) than themselves, be mentored by classmates, and be known well by their teachers by remaining in the same class for two years.  I encourage you to read this short article ahead of time: Mixed-Age Grouping: What Does the Research Say, and How Can Parents Use This Information?

Mark your calendars:

  • Important Organizing Meeting for TNS to PR with Love this Wednesday at 3PM in the Library.  There are lots of ways to help us mobilize our school community to support our adopted school in Puerto Rico.  All are welcome.

  • The SLT (School Leadership Team) meets Thursday at 8AM in Room 301.  All are welcome:

    • Adopt the Alternative School lunch menu

    • Analyse the parent responses to the DOE survey

    • How we as a school can make the middle school process better for families

  • Popcorn Friday is this week at dismissal.

 

I hope that you had a wonderful break and were able to enjoy some downtime with friends, family and by yourself!  

Welcome Back,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of December 11, 2017

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

A huge thank you to the organizers, volunteers and families who supported our Holiday Fair!   As always, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of those who donated their time, food, talents and positive energy to make this event so successful.  Thank you!

Did you know that thanks to our Grants Committee and some dedicated parents, we have a climbing wall in our 4th floor gym?  We were also just awarded the Whole Kids Foundation Honey Bee Grant and will have an indoor observation hive in Emily’s science room soon.  These exciting projects were made possible thanks to our amazing Grants Committee.  Want to learn more and share your ideas for TNS?  The Grants Committee meets this Thursday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

Mark Your Calendars:

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

  • The PTA Exec Board meets Wednesday at drop-off in the PTA Room.

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

Have a great week,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of December 4, 2017

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

Recently, a parent asked what our staff does on TNS half-days.  During these afternoons, we participate in something called descriptive reviews.  Especially now, in this time of high stakes testing, accountability and enforced standardization, we must ensure that education starts and builds from the strengths of children and teachers and values human capacity; descriptive reviews do just that.  The descriptive process begins with immersion – observing a child or space or activity.  It has a focus or focusing question that the presenting teacher or administrator work out thoughtfully ahead of time and that gives the participants a sense of how to listen and respond to the review. The process is always collaborative. It has rules and roles necessary for making the inquiry process democratic and inclusive, and for guaranteeing respect and privacy for the individuals involved.  A review typically takes about two hours.  Descriptive reviews are a powerful way of opening up one’s practice and learning from each other.  We have devoted all of our TNS PD half-days to this work.   

Mark Your Calendars:

  • Parent’s of Unique Kids Support Group meets Tuesday morning at drop-off in Room 301. 

  • The Wellness Committee will meet on Tuesday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • The TNS Book Fair will be open Thursday and Friday from 8 - 10AM & 2 - 4PM and Sunday during the Holiday Fair.  

  • SLT meets Thursday at 8 a.m. in Room 301.  See agenda:

1. Reconfiguration of grade bands to Pre-K, K/1, 2/3 and 4/5 (Dyanthe will present the thinking behind reconfiguring from a numbers perspective).

2. Share what has been learned from the Dutch educators visiting our school with parents.

3. Examine the parent responses to the DOE survey.

4. How we as a school can make the middle school process better for families.

  • The Advocacy Committee will meet Friday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • The Holiday Fair is Sunday, December 10th from 11AM - 5PM.  Please look out for opportunities to volunteer... to set up, work a booth the day of, or clean-up.  This is a wonderful community event for the whole family and friends.  I hope to see you all there.

Thank you to the teachers and families who organized and partook in the TNS Upstander Fest this past Saturday.  I think that all participants found meaning and joy in the day! 

Have a wonderful week,

Dyanthe

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