Abbe's Weekly Letter

Abbe's Letter

posted Feb 11, 2018, 8:56 AM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Feb 11, 2018, 8:57 AM ]

February 11, 2018

Dear Families,

This week is devoted to Family Conferences. Please make an appointment by signing up at the classroom or emailing your teachers. Bring your child’s Narrative Report if there are areas that you would like to discuss. Please remember to complete the Narrative Response form. I've attached the form here in case it’s been misplaced.

Did you know that ALL teachers and service providers are available and eager to meet with you to discuss your child’s progress? Don’t forget to meet with Patrice (Art) and Emmy (Science). You can also meet with any of your child’s special service providers: Julie, Shav, and Melissa (Speech), Rachel (English as a New Language), Carmen and Marissa (Occupational Therapy), Shirley (Guidance), and Chris (Physical Therapy). I try to get around to conferences as well and can be available at specific times with advance notice. We hope to see all families!

Ever wonder why the Earth School gets less funding than many other public schools? Ever wish that the Parent Association wasn't strapped with raising so much cash every year? A big factor is that the Department of Education only gives us 87% of our Funding, while other schools randomly get 100% or more. Our PA and SLT want your help in demanding 100% of our funding. This Thursday, 2/15, there will be a Town Hall with Chancellor Farina. See attached poster for links to submit questions and RSVP. Refreshments and childcare. Here's how you can help: 

1. Submit a question about "Fair Student Funding," such as, "How is it "fair" to give some schools all of their full "Fair Student" funding and others only a percentage of it resulting in losses of over $200,000 per year!?" 

2. RSVP and attend the Town Hall Meeting on Thursday to show our concern. 

In preparation for standardized testing season, parents of students in Grades 3 - 5 are asked to let teachers know if you intend to have your child sit for the tests or "opt out." Our policy is to respect each family's decision and to support children to have positive experiences whether testing or not. To learn more, find out your rights, and get answers to frequently asked questions, please reach out to the PA or your child's teacher. 

All for now! 

Love, Abbe

A Letter from Jocelyn

posted Feb 3, 2018, 10:14 AM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides


Hello Earth School Families,

The application process for Pre-K will begin Monday February 5th  and goes through March 30th, 2018. All children born in 2014 are eligible for the 2018 – 2019 Pre-Kindergarten. Following to District 1 policy, siblings of current Earth School students are given priority admission to our Pre-Kindergarten.

Below is a link to the Department of Educations online application for your convenience (goes live Monday February 5th,2018). Also fine the digital version of the District 1 directory which provides more information about the application process and D1 priorities, including siblings.

When filling out the application online please remember the following:

  • Enter Earth School to your list only (for families with siblings)
  • If your Pre-K child has a sibling in the upper grades at Earth School, please make sure to add them to the application!
  • Please email me if you need your child's Student ID (OSIS) number.
  • Email me if you have any further questions: 

Some helpful links below:

Link to Pre-Kindergarten Application: Beginning February 5th, 2018

Earth School's Code, DBN:


Digital version of Pre-K Directory for Manhattan:



Earth School Parent Coordinator

Room 126


Abbe's Letter

posted Jan 28, 2018, 6:05 PM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides

January 28, 2018

Dear Families,

We will be distributing Winter Narrative Reports on Friday at dismissal. Teachers prefer handing the Reports to an adult for privacy and safekeeping. If you cannot pick up the report personally, it will be backpacked. Please read your child’s report carefully and consider how you will share it with them. When talking with your child about the report, we encourage discussing both strengths, growth, and areas for improvement. Please make note of your thoughts using the enclosed Response Form. Family Conferences begin February 12 by appointment (see individual classrooms for sign-ups). Please bring the report to your conference so you can refer to it in your discussion. Narrative reports are a unique feature of progressive public schools like ours. Teachers have worked many long hours on each one. Your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated. Teachers try to use plain language and not “teacher-speak.” That said, we occasionally slip into school jargon or educational terminology. If you need clarification about anything in your report, we are happy to help.

From the Parent Handbook:

Narrative Reports

Narrative Reports are written in January and June. Based on data collected by the teachers, these reports document each child’s development, interests, and progress in school subject areas. The process of creating these reports ensures careful reflection on each individual child’s growth. To prepare for writing, teachers spend time reviewing the student’s work and written observations and records. They synthesize this data in detailed summaries. Individualized goals are created for each child to prioritize their next steps. Though labor intensive, we feel that Narrative Reports and the reflective process that they require are far superior to “letter grades” or checklist report cards. Please read the report carefully and share it with your child. If you have questions, your teacher is available to review the report with you. Your written feedback is also greatly appreciated and lets the teachers know that the report has been read. 

Love, Abbe    

Abbe's Letter

posted Jan 15, 2018, 6:28 AM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides

January 16, 2018

Dear Families,

Today we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Looking back at some of the shocking events of the past year, I am saddened that our country has not moved closer to King’s dream. As a leader, I look to King for guidance when I doubt my course of action or consider the easier, more comfortable path. In “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King recognizes allies to the cause, but calls out the White pastors who opposed his protests and who told him to wait. He calls out those who opposed segregation, but were unwilling to take a stand. “We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts of [those] willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.”

I am awed by our wonderful community where diverse children and families live together in peace and don’t shy away from the hard work of human progress. Our students have battled biases aimed at the LGBTQ community and have stood up for the equitable representation of world diversity in children’s literature. They are leading the way with eyes open not just for overt racism, but the more subtle imprint of omission (being left out). I awed by our partnership with Children’s Arts and by our teachers’ recent inquiry into the harmful effects of negative gender representations in the media. I awed by our multi-age, academically-inclusive classrooms led by faculty skilled at accommodating all kinds of learners. I am awed by our parents and teachers who have led the charge in opposing high stakes standardized tests and their use as instruments of segregation and exclusion. I am awed that The Earth School took part in Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative joining with our district and Community Ed Council to create more equitable schools for all of our students. I am awed by of our staff’s ongoing commitment to examining the structures and unconscious biases that still retain the mark of our country’s ingrained racism and marginalization of non-dominant groups. These accomplishments and many others are evidence of the Earth School’s longstanding commitment to take on issues and to have “courageous conversations” both within and beyond our school community.

We have some special events this week. On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., students will attend a dance performance by the Rod Rodgers Dance Company in the auditorium. Families are welcome. On Wednesday, the 4/5th Graders will have a book talk and sing-along with Meryl Danziger, author of Sing It!: A biographer of Pete Seeger. Ms. Danziger will be in the lobby at drop off selling and signing her book.

Love, Abbe

Abbe's Letter

posted Jan 2, 2018, 9:52 AM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Jan 2, 2018, 9:55 AM ]

Abbe's Letter

posted Jan 2, 2018, 8:30 AM by Abbe Futterman   [ updated Jan 2, 2018, 9:54 AM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides ]

January 2, 2018

Dear Families,

Thanks for your warm holiday cheer and abounding generosity this season. I hope you had an enjoyable Winter Break and wish you all a Happy New Year!!

A few months back, Theresa and Rob’s 4th/5th graders were reading a book called Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed. The book has a lovely message about helping others with acts of kindness. At the end of the story, kindness has spread around the whole world. The student teacher Adrienne invited the class to respond to the book. The children were surprised that all the people in the world were depicted as only one race (White). Three students decided to write letters to the author and publisher. Just before vacation, the class received a letter and package. Because of our students’ critique, they published a revised edition to better reflect the world’s diversity!!! Enclosed were five copies of the new edition to add to our libraries. I am very proud of our students for taking a stand and helping these adults to see the world in a new, more inclusive way: 

“It is understandable why each of you expressed concern with the artwork of the different children of the world being only one race. This is not an accurate display of the variety of people that this world has to offer and the message that is throughout the book.” – Addison Sharp

January is a busy month for our teachers. After months of observations and assessments, it is time for them to write narrative report cards about each child. Though the workload is intense, the burden is outweighed by the value of the close, individual attention paid to each child. At The Earth School, we believe that knowing children well is the key to teaching them well. Though most parents are not used to “narrative report cards," we hope that reading them provides a window into the work that teachers do to get "inside" the thinking of young learners. The narrative reports will be sent home the first week of February. Please understand that teachers may be less available than usual for parent meetings and communications.

Love, Abbe


posted Dec 13, 2017, 2:27 PM by Abbe Futterman   [ updated Dec 13, 2017, 2:30 PM ]

Abbe's Letter

posted Dec 13, 2017, 11:06 AM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Dec 13, 2017, 11:06 AM ]

December 11, 2017

Dear Families,

Winter Recess is almost here. For many of our students, this time of the year is filled with excitement and anticipation. There will be class breakfasts and other seasonal good cheer. Along with the positive feelings, children may have more difficulty focusing or may even feel anxious. We will be sensitive to signs of holiday stress and temper the excitement by sticking to regular routines and rich curriculum. We must also remember that we all have different financial circumstances and, for some, economic hardships are particularly challenging at this time of year.

Parents can help by making sure that children get enough rest and keeping to solid routines on school nights and mornings. If your child has a difficult day in school, take time to hear about it. Encourage reflection, empathy, and seeing other perspectives. End on a positive chord by expressing your confidence that improvement is possible. We can help our young people practice habits of peace, kindness, and self-care.

We are looking forward to a visit by the Education Committee of the City Council on Tuesday. The Chairperson, Daniel Dromm, is excited to hear about our curriculum and pedagogy. Mr. Dromm visited a couple of years ago to meet with our student leaders from Kids 4 LGBT Rights Now.

I am still working on securing a physical education educator to teach our Movement program. In the meantime, we have arranged for Joe Jordan to work with our students in music. Joe is a retired music teacher has been sharing songs, rhythms, and other musical activities. Ana Busto will be subbing on days Joe is unavailable. Please remind your children to have good manners when working with our guest teachers.

After such a warm fall, it seems much too early to be saying this, but I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours much joy and love over the winter vacation and a Happy New Year!

Love, Abbe


posted Dec 6, 2017, 5:09 PM by Abbe Futterman   [ updated Dec 6, 2017, 5:12 PM ]

December 4, 2017

Dear Families,

The Kindergarten application process period has begun. Current Pre-K families must fill out an application for next year’s Kindergarten. Jocelyn sent a thorough email with instructions and links. Applications are due by January 12. Contact Jocelyn with questions (

I am proud to announce that New York City’s Department of Education now requires each school building to offer at least one single staff bathroom that is gender inclusive. Our single stall bathroom is located on the second floor in Room 251.

 Did you know School Leadership Team information and meeting minutes can be found on the school website? Our next SLT Meeting is Dec 14, from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. in Room 114. SLT Meetings are open to all members of the Earth School community and the public. Agendas are posted outside of the office in advance of the meetings.

Professional Development At The Earth School: What’s happening?On the last half-day, staff met in groups to explore two topics using inquiry protocols to focus on particular issues of teaching practice. In one of the groups, Donna presented a description of how she considers “accountability” in regards to students finishing work and showing effort. After she presented a description of her classroom practice, we explored her question deeply. The discussion uncovered issues of diversity, equity, fairness, and ownership. Participants offered suggestions and “food for thought” for Donna as they made connections to their own work.

In another group, teachers gathered to closely read one student’s Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”). Since IEP’s follow a strict bureaucratic format, the language and structure can be opaque and narrowing. By looking closely at a sample document, the group explored ways to approach IEP writing and reading in keeping with the Earth School’s more personal and child-centered approach. The group then made recommendations for how to improve how IEPs are written and used.

Love, Abbe

Abbe's Weekly Letter

posted Nov 18, 2017, 6:51 PM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Nov 18, 2017, 6:52 PM ]

November 19, 2017

Dear Families,

Thanks to all who organized and attended the Fall Town Meeting. It was a beautiful day of appreciating the school’s work and what makes the Earth School unique. Teachers shared some of the ways that they work with students and think about education. It was a special day, full of thought, love, and thankfulness.

At the last SLT, staff members did a presentation about the work that we do on “Professional Development” days. Staff members gather frequently to work on growing their teaching practice, to plan, and to consider important matters that arise. The topics are far-ranging from teaching a particular concept in mathematics to discussing how to talk with students about a terrifying news event. Sometimes we work with consultants, such as last year’s work with Border Crossers, and often we lead ourselves in inquiry, where we present and review student work, a classroom activity, or a curriculum. We read books and articles, share ideas with teachers from other schools, and attend conferences and workshops. We learn from children because each is unique and brings something new to consider. Earth School educators are lifelong learners, inquirers, and discoverers. For your interest, the SLT and I will be sending updates about what staff is working on during professional development meetings.

I found a mistake on the School Days Calendar that I sent home earlier in the year. (It contained an extra half day in December.) I have corrected the error and am sending home bright orange updated ones for your fridges or bulletin boards (attached). You may also refer to the website calendar that contains other important school events.

I wish you a wonderful long weekend with family and friends. I send my thanks for all you do, for your tremendous support of this school, and for being you.

Love, Abbe

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