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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of October 10, 2016

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

Multicultural Day is a TNS tradition when families and staff come together to celebrate our cultural heritages and share in the various cultures and traditions represented in our school-wide community.  This year, we are holding Multicultural Day early in the year because the beginning of the year is a time when teachers and children spend a lot time thinking about their identity as individuals and who they are becoming as a classroom community.  This takes many different forms (and continues throughout the year) depending on the age of children and the class: young children share pictures of their families, students make self-portraits, some classes focus on one “star” student a day, teachers have intake meetings with families, and older students often share their hopes and dreams for the year.  One of the many fun components of Multicultural Day this year will be a Gallery Walk, during which we will invite participants to talk a stroll through our school and look at the student work posted on bulletin boards with this focusing question in mind: “Where do you see identity in the work you are looking at?”  We have lots of other great things planned (some heady, some purely fun), including performances by the Urban Word poets, a killer DJ, a video project (for all community members who want to participate), and an interactive timeline activity of equity/oppression in education.  Multicultural Day is this Saturday, October 15th from 1 - 5 p.m.

Third Street Music School is hosting its fall open house on Sunday, October 16th, from 1 - 3 p.m. at its building on 235 East 11th Street near 2nd Avenue. Partner School Students ages 6 (by December 31, 2016) to 14 will be able to meet teachers, try out instruments, and apply for free and reduced-rate group classes with openings in the fall. Only classes that still have openings will be offered (currently: trombone, horn, flute, clarinet, cello, recorder, viola, string bass, drum circle, ballet, tap dance, and choir).  Families interested in other disciplines should mark their calendars for their Spring Open House on June 15th, from 3pm to 6pm, when the full complement of group courses will be accepting applications for next year.

Gifted and Talented testing applications are now available for children currently in grades Pre-K through 2nd.  If you are interested in having your child tested for the Gifted and Talented program, please stop by the office to pick up a handbook. The handbook includes information about the test and application. You may also access the handbook and application online at  Applications are due online or to Carmen by November 14, 2016.

Mark Your Calendars:

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

  • No School Wednesday in observance of Yom Kippur.

  • The PTA Executive Meeting is this Thursday at 8:30 a.m. in the PTA Room.  All are welcome.

  • Multicultural Day is Saturday from 1 - 5 p.m.

I hope to see you all Saturday,


Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of October 3, 2016

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

All NYC public schools are required to practice the protocols they will follow for different kinds of emergencies throughout the school year.  We practice three different protocols that cover all types of emergency situations. The first is a building evacuation, or “fire drill”. We practice this drill several times throughout the year; it’s the one your children will be most familiar with. There are different scenarios that would call for a building evacuation, but the most common would be danger within the building such as a fire. The next is a shelter-in drill. During a shelter-in an announcement is made over the PA system and the exit doors are locked and monitored. No one is permitted to enter or exit the building until the shelter-in has been lifted, but classes keep going and students can move throughout the building, as per usual. We run this drill to prepare for the possibility of a dangerous event happening outside of the building. The third type of safety protocol we prepare for is a lockdown. During a lockdown, an announcement is made over the PA and children and staff respond by turning off the lights in classrooms, locking classroom doors, moving out of the sight line of the windows or classroom doors, and maintaining silence until the lockdown has been lifted. This drill is to prepare for the very unlikely event of imminent danger inside the building.  Neighborhood School teachers discuss different drill practices with children well ahead of time, so that they feel safe.   They communicate that this is our school and we want to make sure that only people who belong here are here.  We will have our first lockdown drill this week.  Please contact me if you have any questions about any of our school safety drills.

This year, I will again host a series of informal gatherings for families each month to discuss topics of interest to our community (so please email your suggestions).  The first “Morning Hour” will be Wednesday, October 19th in the PTA Room right after drop off.  We will discuss progressive education and in preparation, I encourage you to read Alfie Kohn’s article, Progressive Education: Why It’s Hard to Beat, But Also Hard to Find.  We began last year with this article and I think it is a good starting place for future conversations.

As we move into cold and flu season, a gentle reminder:  please call the office at (212) 387-0195 before 10am to notify us if your child is sick.  Please bring a doctor’s note to the office if your child is out for more than 3 days.

Mark Your Calendars:

  • The ECO Committee will meet this Thursday after drop off outside the PTA room to discuss this year’s agenda.  Over the past two years they have developed an Earth Day Fair for the community, helped classes visit the community gardens and the LES Ecology Center, as well as worked with the students to promote sustainable practices such as upcycling, recycling and more.  This meeting is open to all.

  • No School on Monday, October 11.

  • No School on Wednesday, October 13.

Have a good week,


Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of September 26, 2016

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

One unique aspect of The Neighborhood School is our class drop off procedure which allows for parents and caretakers to escort their child upstairs to their classroom. The ability to do this is something we value very much and is not typi­cal procedure for many schools. In order to preserve this privilege we must ensure that all adults entering the building are logged in and out.  During high traffic, such as morning drop-off and afternoon pickup, it is vital that you (and not your child) sign-in in the logs provided in the lobby before your go to your child’s classroom.  At all other times, you will be consid­ered a visitor and will have to show photo ID and sign in with the safety agent yourself.  At arrival and dismissal times, please sign-in and then escort your child to her/his classroom and pick her/him up there or at the designated location.

We have a very special TNS tradition coming up next week.  “Sing” occurs the last Wednesday of every month after drop off.  Families gather in the school lobby while teachers organize their classes and escort them to the Auditorium. Song sheets are handed out at each session.  Classes sit in concentric circles with the innermost circle reserved for the Pre K and Kindergarten students.  We ask that parents and younger siblings do not join the classes seated in the circle.  Instead, they are asked to remain on the outer barrier of the gathering.  When we get to the final song, we wave goodbye to families (that’s your cue to leave) and classes remain seated until all of the parents have exited the auditorium.  This is a wonderful opportunity to see your child among their peers and to see the entire school community together in one place.  The entire event typically lasts 10 – 15 minutes.  Our first Sing event is Wednesday, September 28 at 8:45 a.m. in the auditorium.  

Beginning on this week, our school (and STAR Academy) will participate in a Mayoral Initiative called “Breakfast in the Classroom”.  Our schools have “chosen” a hybrid model similar to what we do already called “Grab and Go”.  Students arriving early will still have the option of enjoying the usual breakfast served in the cafeteria, while latecomers will have a “grab and go” option available.  Students bring the “grab and go” breakfast up to the classroom and eat there.  Once they have finished, garbage/recycling is placed in carry bags and is removed by kitchen staff.  

Middle School Directories were sent home to fifth grade families last week.  They are a good  reference tool for you and your child to use in the next few months. Directories are also available online and at Middle School Fairs. The Middle School Fair for District 1 is Wednesday, September 27, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at University Neighborhood Middle School.  Please join Noemi, Tina, former 5th grade parents and me this Friday at drop-off in the Library to discuss the middle school process.

Mark your calendars:

  • The TNS Read-a-Thon is coming to a close!  Starting on Monday during drop off, we will be in the lobby taking donations.  Pledges may be paid in cash or check, made out to The Neighborhood School P.T.A. or pay via PayPal by going to our web page.  Thanks for supporting literacy and our school!  The week’s schedule is as follows:

    • Monday 9/26: Drop Off
      Tuesday 9/27: Pick Up
      Wednesday 9/28: Drop Off
      Thursday 9/29: Pick Up
      Friday 9/30: Both Drop off and Pick Up

    • SING is Wednesday at 8:45 in the auditorium.  Please also join us for the bake sale in the lobby beforehand (also, this is a call for donated baked goods).

  • The Diversity Committee is hosting a potluck on Thursday from 6 - 7:30 p.m.  This is a really lovely gathering of families and staff, and I encourage you to come!  We meet in Danette’s Room and free childcare is available.

  • Our 5th grade middle school meeting is Friday, September 30 at 8:35 in the Library.

  • There is no school Monday, October 3 and Tuesday, October 4 in observance of Rosh Hashanah.

Just a gentle reminder, please follow the directions posted on staircase doors (Up and Down) to ensure safe flow in the building.



Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of September 19, 2016

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

I imagine that some of our students will come into school today knowing a lot, a little, or nothing at all about the explosions that happened in Chelsea Saturday night.  At TNS, we believe that the best approach to support our children is to take our cues from them:  listen carefully their questions/thoughts, respond with what we know and assure them that they are safe at TNS.  Please reach out to us if you feel that your child may require additional support.

Curriculum Night is Thursday.  This is an exciting opportunity to learn about your child’s curriculum for the year and to meet other families in your child’s class.  Pre-k through 2nd grade families will meet in the classrooms from 5 - 6pm, and then will meet with out-of-classroom teachers and support staff in the Library from 6 - 6:30pm. 3rd through 5th grade families will meet in the Library from 5:30 - 6pm and will meet in classrooms from 6 - 7pm.  Childcare will be provided for TNS students only.  Please sign-up with Noemi by Tuesday.

All Neighborhood School families should, if possible, subscribe to our school’s listserv. It is used for official communication from the school staff and PTA. It keeps you aware of important events happening in the school. This is a moderated list and, honestly, very few emails are sent out weekly.  If you know a parent who is not on the email list, please forward my letter to them with this link:  You can also learn about what’s happening by going to our school website calendar at

Mark your calendars (please note, committee meeting are open to ALL TNS families):

  • The School Leadership Team (SLT) will meet Tuesday from 8 - 9:30am in Room 301.  The SLT is a committee made up of elected parents and teachers.  We write, revise and disseminate school policies.  Monthly meetings are for the School Leadership Team Representatives and are open to all TNS families.  

  • The Diversity Committee will meet on Tuesday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.  The Diversity Committee ensures representative voices are reflected in our overall school community.  We respond to diversity and multicultural issues school wide by developing policies and programs that support our belief in diversity and multiculturalism as a shared value.

  • Our first PTA (Parent Teacher Association) meeting is Thursday at drop-off in the PTA Room.  The PTA is a volunteer group made up of families and teachers who consistently work toward a better school. All parents and guardians of children at TNS are automatically members of the PTA, and are strongly encouraged to be participat­ing members.  Monthly meetings are open to all TNS families who would like to attend.

  • Friday, September 23rd is a TNS Professional Development Half-day.  Dismissal is at 11:45am.  Please sign-up for afternoon childcare with Wingspan or University Settlement.

Although this is first full week of school, fall is coming; Thursday is the Autumn Equinox!

Happy Fall,


Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of September 11, 2016

Dear Neighborhood School Families,

Last week I spent a lot of time welcoming children and families back to school and visiting classrooms to say “Hello”.  I was greeted with hugs, smiles and stories from summer.  One student explained that she had gone on vacation and when I asked where to, she gleefully replied, “A hotel!”  While returning students are happy to be back, I am gently reminded that my role has little meaning to our newest and youngest children at this point in the year when I am introduced emphatically as “your new principal” and am greeted with a blank look.  

We have several events for families this week.  Tomorrow morning, there is a Pre-K/kindergarten orientation in the Library at drop-off.  Wednesday morning, there is an orientation for our families new to the school (also in the Library at drop-off).  Finally, our PTA Welcome (Back) Breakfast for ALL families is this Friday, September 16th at 8:30 in the library.  I very much hope to see you at (at least) one of these events.  

At the Neighborhood School, we work hard to provide a safe and successful learning environment for each child.  When the school day ends, we also want to make sure that children get to their next destination safely and securely.  In the lower grades, this is achieved by having parents or caregivers pick each child up at the classroom.  In the upper grades, this is still an option.  As children gain increased independence and are able to take on more responsibility, parents may opt to have their child self-dismiss.  This means that your child would leave the classroom independently and exit the building directly and either meet a parent or caregiver outside or walk home or to another prearranged location.  (Children who attend after school programs that work in collaboration with our school will be picked up by an adult from the program, so this does not apply to them.)  If you decide that your child is ready for this responsibility, please sign the authorization for self-dismissal form and return it to your child’s classroom teacher.   All students still waiting for their grown-ups to pick-up after 2:55pm will be in Room 306 (across from the office).  

Mark your calendars:

  • Afterschool programming begins this week.  There are still spots in both University Settlement and Wingspan.  Please reach out to Noemi for more information.

  • Pre-K/Kindergarten Families Welcome:  Noemi and I meet with our new Pre-K and K families on Tuesday, September 13 at 8:30am in the Library.

  • New Families Welcome:  Noemi and I meet with our new families on Wednesday, September 14 at 8:30am in the Library.

  • Our PTA Welcome (Back) Breakfast for ALL families is on Friday, September 16th at 8:30 in the library.  Please come by and say, “Hello.”

  • Curriculum Night is Thursday, September 22nd.  Pre-k through 2nd grade families will meet in the classrooms from 5 - 6pm, and then will meet with out-of-classroom teachers and support staff in the Library from 6 - 6:30pm. 3rd through 5th grade families will meet in the Library from 5:30 - 6pm and will meet in classrooms from 6 - 7pm. I very much hope to see you there; this is an exciting opportunity to learn about the curriculum for the year and to meet other families in your child’s class.

  • Friday, September 23rd is a TNS Half-day.  Dismissal is at 11:45am.

I hope that every family received a TNS Handbook last week in your child’s backpack (if not, please stop by the office and ask for a copy).  It describes some important TNS values and traditions, as well as the essential “nuts and bolts” to get started this year.