Abbe's Weekly Letter


Abbe's Weekly Letter

posted Sep 24, 2017, 6:52 AM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Sep 24, 2017, 6:53 AM ]

September 24, 2017

Dear Families,

We are all distressed at the hardships of our neighbors impacted by the many natural disasters of late. Some staff and parents are organizing drives to send goods to those in need. If you want to lead or be part of a drive, please contact Jia (jia@theearthschool.org) for assistance.

Grade 1 – 5 students have recess daily in the school playground. Unstructured recess time is important for children to get exercise, to have a mental break, and to socialize independently. This is also when classroom teachers have their lunch breaks. A variety of other staff members supervise the children, including Carmen N, Melony, Coach Vince, and grade-level paraprofessionals. While students need this break, it can be a challenging time for some. Many students depend on their home class teachers to stay at their best during the school day so they struggle when teachers are absent, when working with cluster teachers (science, art, movement), and at recess. To create more consistency and “bridge” classroom expectations with recess expectations, the staff developed a set of Recess Guidelines (attached) that teachers will introduce to students this week. Please take a few minutes to discuss the guidelines with your child. Similarly, if you know your child struggles with self-regulation at recess, check in frequently to find out how it is going. When we support in this way, children learn to take us “with them” when we cannot be there.

This week is the first meeting of the Diversity and Difference Study Group. Join me for an open exploration into issues of diversity and difference. Explore the importance of diversity for the education of children. Consider the challenges and rewards of being a parent in a diverse community. The Diversity & Difference Study Group is an opportunity for dialogue with other parents and Abbe on this important topic. We are pleased to welcome Cecelia Traugh, Dean of Bank Street College, as facilitator. We will meet 9/29, 10/27, 12/1 from 8:45 – 10:00 a.m. in Room 126. Please RSVP to abbe@theearthschool.org

All for now!

Love, Abbe

.

posted Sep 10, 2017, 6:21 PM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Sep 11, 2017, 3:02 AM by Abbe Futterman ]

THE BUZZ...

Dear Families,

 

My heart goes out to those affected by the extreme weather conditions and the earthquake! I hope you and yours are safe and sound. Please keep us informed if your child has experienced a traumatic event or loss so we can arrange some additional support.

 

We got off to a great start last week with just a few tearful goodbyes and many, many smiling faces. Overall, I think it was a very smooth opening for children and families!

 

This is the time when the entire school is focused on establishing clear structures and routines for being together as a community. From where to keep one’s things to “good listening” or cleaning up after oneself, rules and routines are what make school run smoothly. Once internalized, these structures are hard to notice and look "easy." When routines are not carefully established, classrooms appear chaotic and children feel off-balance. I invite you to consider some of the routines you have at home-- for bedtime or bath, or nightly reading-- to see if you have designed predictable structures for your child to work within. As children grow, their routines and responsibilities must be adjusted. Please come to Monday’s “Have a Great Day!: Smooth Transitions and Relaxed Routines” for much more on this!

 

Important: BLUE FOLDER Back-to-School Paperwork

Each student receives a blue folder of IMPORTANT Back-To-School forms that need to be returned by September 15. These forms must be completed each year. Sending your forms back on time is GREATLY appreciated by teachers and office staff. We will be sending home a paper School Day Calendar with school closures and early dismissals to post in your home. Please return completed forms to your classroom teacher in the blue folders.

 

One of these forms is the Lunch Application. Even though school lunch this year is FREE for all students, all families MUST complete a Lunch Form application. The income data on these forms is used to calculate school funding (so don’t exaggerate;). Families will receive a hard copy, but it easy to complete online here instead (https://www.myschoolapps.com). You will need your child’s birth date. Child’s ID# is not required. If you receive SNAP benefits, you do not need to complete the lunch form.

 

I am pleased to announce a fantastic opportunity for learning and thinking together. Join me for an open exploration into issues of diversity and difference. Explore the importance of diversity for the education of children. Consider the challenges and rewards of being a parent in a diverse community. The Diversity & Difference Study Group is an opportunity for dialogue with other parents and Abbe on this important topic. We are pleased to welcome Cecelia Traugh, Dean of Bank Street College, as facilitator. We will meet 9/29, 10/27, 12/1 from 8:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. RSVP

 

All for now! 

Love, Abbe

.

posted Sep 3, 2017, 12:56 PM by Stevie Remsberg   [ updated Sep 3, 2017, 1:01 PM ]

THE BUZZ.....

September 4, 2017

Dear Families,

It’s already Back to School!! The staff and I are looking forward to seeing everyone wearing their “first-day faces” bright and early on Thursday morning. This September marks The Earth School’s 25th year of welcoming children and families to the first day of school!! We will be celebrating The Earth School’s big birthday with special events scheduled throughout the year.

We expect that during the first few weeks, some of our youngest students will be sad and fearful about separating from their families. Extra staff will be on hand to help calm nerves and ease the separation. Shirley, our Guidance Counselor, is also available to help support children as they get used to their classrooms and school. We have found that young children benefit from a more gradual transition to the school year. Thursday will a half day for Kindergarten students. Dismissal is at 11:55 a.m. Pre-Kindergartners are on a visiting schedule (see attached). Friday is a full day for Kindergarten through Grade 5. Pre-Ks will have a half day dismissal at 11:55 a.m. Next week, everyone is on a full day schedule.

There are lots of activities to help the year get off to a great start. Pre-K, K, and all new families are encouraged to join us in the 2nd floor library on Friday, 9/8, at 8:40 a.m. for an Orientation to the Earth School followed by tours of the Fifth Street Farm, our incredible rooftop garden. On Monday, Shirley will lead an interactive workshop, "Have a Great Day: Tips for Smooth Transitions and Relaxed Routines," also in the library. We hope you can attend.

A great resource for getting to know us is the Parent Handbook, available on our website. This document contains lots of important information about how The Earth School works.

Important: BLUE FOLDER Back-to-School Paperwork

Each student will receive a blue folder of IMPORTANT Back-To-School forms that need to be returned by September 15. These forms must be completed each year. Sending your forms back on time is GREATLY appreciated by teachers and office staff. We will be sending home a paper School Day Calendar with school closures and early dismissals to post in your home. Please return completed forms to your classroom teacher in the blue folders.

One of these forms is the Lunch Application. Whether or not your child eats school lunch, all families MUST complete a Lunch Form application. The income data on these forms is used to calculate school funding (so don’t exaggerate;). All families will receive a hard copy, but you can complete it online instead at https://www.myschoolapps.com. You will need your child’s birth date, but it is NOT required to enter the school ID number. Only one form needs to be completed per family. The DOE sends us weekly updates showing who has completed theirs. If you receive SNAP benefits, you do not need to complete the lunch form.

All for now!

Love, Abbe

.

posted Aug 22, 2017, 2:08 PM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Sep 1, 2017, 1:25 PM by Stevie Remsberg ]

Summer BUZZ ...

July 2017

Dear Earth School Students and Families,

I begin by sending out a warm welcome to our new students and families! I know everyone is excited to hear about the class placements. The teachers and I worked long and hard to create the class groupings for the 2017 - 2018 school year. We aimed to place each child in a class with some old and some new friends and to make groups that will best support children’s social and academic development. Whether you are just starting your Earth School journey or you have been around for a while, the teachers, staff, and I are here to help you to get settled and to begin finding friendships in your new classes.

Most Earth School teachers will be back in the fall, but we do have a few changes:

As many of you have already heard, we have made the decision to separate our Pre-K and K classes due to budgetary and regulatory constraints. We are pleased with our creative solution to “loop” teachers with their students from Pre-K to K. This means that, after next year, Pre-K children will “move up” to K with their same teachers and classmates. After K, teachers will return to Pre-K to begin the cycle again.

I am happy to announce that we will now have a full-time physical education program that we call “Creative Movement.” We are working to hire Coach Vince as our certified coach and hope that Coach Frankie will continue as a guest coach.

This year, Tim will be teaching Kindergarten with Jennifer Townsend. Did you know that Tim taught Pre-K and K for many years before starting the cooking program??!! Shonelle Cooper-Caplan is returning and is expecting a new baby! Shonelle will get our Cooking program up and running later in the year.

Rebecca and Suzanne are co-teaching Grade 1/2 in Room 138. Kimberly and Vanessa will be co-teaching Grade 1/2 in Room 141. Thuan continues in Room 136; Gikeno in Room 137. I am happy to welcome Shannon Gershow back from her maternity leave. Shannon and Emily will be co-teaching Grade 3 in Room 143. Donna and Linda will co-teach Grade 3 in Room 142.

We are pleased to welcome Shavanne Williams-Robinson as our new speech therapist as we say farewell Kaaren Elliot who is joining the staff at another District 1 school. We are saying a sad goodbye to Daniel Fields, a paraprofessional who worked in Kimberly’s class. We wish him well in his new position.

There is plenty more to be excited about, but I will let you get back to your summer vacation. Be safe. Have fun. See you soon.

Love,

Abbe

 

Untitled Post

posted Aug 22, 2017, 2:02 PM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Sep 1, 2017, 1:18 PM by Stevie Remsberg ]

THE BUZZ…

June 19, 2017

Dear Earth School Families,­

It’s the last full week of school and the last BUZZ for a while. I want to end by thanking everyone for making it a great year. As I always say on school tours, it’s the community that really makes the Earth School great! Thanks to all the families, teachers, staff and children who have worked so hard this year “learning and growing as community.” Enjoy a wonderful summer! June is always bittersweet as we say so long to our graduates. If you are a graduating or moving away, please stop in to the office for a few hugs before you leave and please stay in touch! We look forward to hearing news of our Earthlings’ next big adventures!

We will be sending Class Welcome letters and supply requests in midsummer. We will email these unless you have requested paper notices. Please be sure to inform Jocelyn of any email/address changes. You can find letters and class supply lists on our website (once you know your class). For families that are not returning, please be sure to pick up your child’s portfolio and other possessions from your class before you leave. Likewise, let us know if you something comes up and you are not returning in September so we can update our registers and fill our seats. Narrative Reports will be distributed on Friday. PLEASE CHECK LOST & FOUND BAGS IN THE 6TH STREET LOBBY BY WEDNESDAY. REMAINING ITEMS WILL BE DONATED/DISCARDED.

Last week, we met with our Budget Director for our annual budget meeting. We went through the complicated process of comparing our anticipated enrollment and other funding sources against our staffing needs and other expenses. As usual, there is just not enough money to pay for everything we need and want. We have had to make some adjustments to our program so that we provide the best possible education within our budget. We have determined that due to the added cost of the blended Pre-K and K model, we cannot offer it at this time and will be creating separate Pre-K and K classes. While it is disappointing for both families and educators when decisions come from budget cuts or “red tape,” I believe that we have come up with a satisfactory solution known as “looping.” Beginning in September 2017, we will have two Pre-K classes and 3 K classes. Those Pre-K teachers will “move up” with their classes in September 2018 becoming K teachers. Next year’s K teachers will move down to Pre-K in September 2018 and loop up the following year with their students. This will preserve the “two-year with the same teacher” model that we have elsewhere in the school. The “third” K class will not loop and will be especially for children who enter the school in K. This year it will also be the ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching) class.

Finally, thanks to everybody who completed the internal survey. While it’s not always easy to hear critique, we will use it constructively to review and revise our work.

Love,          

Abbe

 

Untitled Post

posted Aug 22, 2017, 2:00 PM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Aug 22, 2017, 2:01 PM ]

THE BUZZ…

June 12, 2017

Dear Earth School Families,­

Last call for the Internal Survey!! Don’t put if off any longer!! The results of this survey will be reviewed by the School Leadership Team (SLT) this week. It is by and for our own community. Please click to take the ES Survey 2016-2017​. (Only 5 minutes!)

Thanks to the parent teams who have worked together on the fantastic community events and fundraisers throughout the year! Given the Earth School’s inadequate budget, parent support makes so much possible for our students. The Earth School Parent Association is looking for some volunteers for executive positions. We need a few new parents who want to come on board and learn the ropes. You don’t need experience—there’s plenty of support and guidance. Please speak to Jocelyn or any of the PA reps to find out more.

Last week, we lost our beloved lower garden outside of the science room. After 23 years, the Division of School Facilities deemed it a hazard and removed it. They have promised to replace it with planters in another location on the school grounds. We will miss our unconventional garden and look forward to the addition of green spaces to enhance the recess play areas.

June is a time of transition especially for our graduating students. We mark this passage through reflection and celebration. Please check out our 5th grade students’ portfolio displays that are on display for the next two weeks. The Earth School 5th Grade Graduation is on Thursday, June 22, at 9:00 a.m. in the auditorium. Graduation truly embodies all that makes the Earth School special with a morning devoted to celebrating our students’ strengths and interests through their words, art, performance, and imagination!

Love,         

Abbe

Untitled Post

posted Aug 22, 2017, 1:58 PM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Aug 22, 2017, 1:58 PM ]

THE BUZZ…

June 4, 2017

Dear Earth School Families,­

It’s Family Conference Week! Please make an appointment by signing up in front of the classroom or emailing your teachers. 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), Emmy (Science), or Tim (Cooking). Individual appointments and drop-in times are available. Schedules are posted by doors and in the lobby. You can also meet with any of your child’s special service providers: Julie, Kaaren, and Melissa (Speech), Rachel (English as a New Language), Robyn (Occupational Therapy), Shirley (Guidance), and Chris (Physical Therapy). Need help signing up? Please reach out to Jocelyn (Jocelyn@theearthschool.org) for assistance. We hope to see all families!

As the end of the school year approaches, children may begin to worry about moving to a new classroom. To ease these fears, the PreK/K teachers have organized special “class trips” to first grade classrooms. Here’s how it works: Teachers escort the K children to one of the Grade 1/2 classrooms to meet with this year’s first graders and their teacher. At the same time, the second graders do activities with the Pre-K friends in the PreK/K classroom. The Kindergartners interview the first graders and the teacher about life in the first grade. The first graders show them around and answer their questions. After the short visits, the Kindergarteners return to excitedly tell the Pre-K’ers all about first grade! These intervisitations will continue until all the K’s have visited all of the Grade 1/2 classrooms. The small things that we do to make our students feel safe and prepared add up to an “emotionally responsive” school experience.

Please take 5 minutes to complete our anonymous “internal” survey. The results of this survey are reviewed by the School Leadership Team (SLT) to gather your views on the school and to get input for future planning. It is by and for our own community. While the current budget situation severely limits the scope of what we can provide through DOE funding, many dreams have come true as a result of good ideas and teamwork! Please click to take the ES Survey 2016-2017​.

While ES families come from many backgrounds, our diversity is not adequately reflected in the make-up our Parents Association leadership and School Leadership Team. These parent leadership positions impact decisions for our whole community. To best serve all of our families, it is important that the teams reflect a range of perspectives and priorities. Elections are coming up again and we are actively seeking some new parent leaders. If you are interested or want more information about joining, please reach out to your PA, Jocelyn, or me.

Love, 

Abbe

Untitled Post

posted Aug 22, 2017, 1:53 PM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Aug 22, 2017, 1:55 PM ]

THE BUZZ…

May 28, 2017

Dear Earth School Families,­

 The big event this week is the Annual Picnic at the East River Park on Friday. I hope you can join us for this super fun community event. Please read class newsletters for details. Please no dogs, candy or soda, water guns or balloons.  Since we need a permit for this event, there is no rain date. We will still go in light mist or chance of rain so please dress accordingly. It is a community potluck so much generous sharing happens between classes! (Please no nuts or strawberries.) Safety Note: Any student who is not returning to school for regular 2:50 p.m. dismissal must be signed out with your child’s teacher. 

In any community, there are the people who let us know what is on their mind, some that you never hear from, and everyone in between. Sometimes we notice that the folks who speak up most freely are from historically-privileged groups. At The Earth School, our goal is to involve all families to advocate for their child’s needs, education and future. While everybody’s feedback is important, we are reaching out particularly to those families who typically do not share their perspectives. Please take 5 minutes to complete our anonymous “internal” survey. The results of this survey are reviewed by the School Leadership Team (SLT) to gather your views on the school and to get input for future planning. It is by and for our own community. While the current budget situation severely limits the scope of what we can provide through DOE funding, many dreams have come true as a result of good ideas and teamwork! In addition to sharing your feedback, please consider ways you might be able to get involved. Please click to take the ES Survey 2016-2017​. We will also backpack a paper version if requested.

While ES families come from many backgrounds, our diversity is not adequately reflected in the make-up our Parents Association leadership and School Leadership Team. These parent leadership positions impact decisions for our whole community. To best serve all of our families, it is important that the teams reflect a range of perspectives and priorities. Elections are coming up again and we are actively seeking some new parent leaders. If you are interested or want more information about joining, please reach out to your PA, Jocelyn, or me.

Love,

Abbe

 

 

Untitled Post

posted Aug 22, 2017, 1:51 PM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Aug 22, 2017, 1:52 PM ]

THE BUZZ…

May 21, 2017

Dear Earth School Families,­

Congratulations to Emmy, Thuan and, our talented student performers for a terrific Annual Open Mic at Night!

The staff just completed a yearlong examination of race and racial equity in the school context. We are excited to share this work and look forward to bringing these ideas to the larger school community. Working with the organization Border Crossers, we explored the 3 “I”s  of racism, interpersonal, internalized, and institutional. We considered our own racial identities and how to talk to children about race. We spend the last two sessions exploring some of the ways that White cultural norms are ingrained in our school structures and practices in order to become more inclusive of other cultures and ways of being. While we covered a lot of ground during these professional development sessions, this work is ongoing and we plan to continue to build on what we started this year.

Love,

Abbe

Untitled Post

posted Aug 22, 2017, 1:48 PM by Designer Vanessa Lemonides   [ updated Aug 22, 2017, 1:48 PM ]

THE BUZZ…

May 7, 2017

Dear Earth School Families,­

Thanks to all the amazing families that made the Annual Party and Auction such a smashing success! Well done, everyone! On that note, we have pursued several grants that will offset a bit of the on-the-ground fundraising for next year. We got sizable sums towards physical education, the camping trips, and several small garden grants for the farm.

While most will say they “can’t wait for summer vacation,” children can have an unexpectedly difficult time leaving their class communities at the end of the year. As June 28 approaches, they may exhibit stress behaviors* that reflect their mixed feelings and anxieties about this big transition. For example, some may regress to less mature behaviors or become increasingly “disorganized.” Some may project detachment or a “tough” persona rather than face their true feelings about saying goodbye. Others may exhibit heightened reactivity or aggression. We can soothe the underlying feelings by maintaining regular routines, sharing important memories from the year, designing meaningful closure activities, and previewing next year’s experience by speaking to students in the next grade or spending time in those classrooms. Teachers assure students that they will be there for them even if they are moving to a new class and provide carefully planned goodbye activities that bring closure to the year. To allow your child the benefit of a mindful transition, we highly recommend that students attend right up to the last day. (*Reference: Emotionally Responsive Practice)

For fifth grade students, June means saying goodbye to The Earth School community. We mark this transition with many closure traditions, such as the portfolio mentorship displays (see last week’s BUZZ) and, of course, graduation. To say goodbye to the class of 2017, we plan an amazing day of celebration for the graduates and their families. To orchestrate this event, we ask that families of students who are not graduating this year take on a leadership role so the graduates’ families can focus on their special day. Please come to a Graduation Planning meeting this Tuesday (see below) to find out more.

The winter/early spring Lost and Found items have been available in the lobby. We will store unclaimed items until June 1. After that, any unclaimed items will be donated to charity.

Love,

Abbe

 

1-10 of 12