Abbe's Weekly Letter


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posted Mar 17, 2019, 5:11 PM by Designer Stevie Remsberg   [ updated Mar 17, 2019, 5:12 PM ]

THE BUZZ.....

March 17, 2019

Dear Families,

Make the Earth Cool Again! Climate Justice is Social Justice! The Earth is Our Mother! Like Sea Level We Rise! What is your favorite Climate March sign?




Friday’s Earth School Climate March was amazing! Please save pictures for the website! Thanks to the teachers for teaching into it and organizing!! Sustainability education is happening at The Earth School and here are some ways that you can help.

• Don’t buy single-use water bottles (the Poland Spring type). Remember, we have a single-use water bottle BAN at the Earth School.
• Please remind kids to bring a reusable water bottle with them for water in the school cafeteria, at recess, and for trips.
• Please donate your extra reusable water bottles. We are collecting gently-used reusable water bottles in the Earth School lobby! We will sterilize them and make them available to students.

March is a busy month with lots of fantastic community events coming up. On Tuesday, we will have the annual Open Mic at Night and next week is the Mystery Art Show. We hope you will join us for these fun family events!

Art update

We continue to plan for next year’s visual arts programming. I have met with a number of excellent Arts Partners and have collected many resumes as I continue to explore funding options. Since the PA budget is “maxed out,” the best options are through Department of Education funds, grants, and discretionary funding from the City Council. We don’t receive our 2019 – 2020 budget until June so having our options in place is very helpful. Rest assured, visual arts programming is an essential component of elementary education and is a priority shared by me, Earth School staff, the PA, and the SLT.

Here’s what is happening to support visual arts learning this spring:

• Meet Me at the Met program: Curriculum-aligned museum tours
• Hottest show of the season: Frida Kahlo at Brooklyn Museum. Class visits, artist study, and art projects
• Visiting parent artists: Work will be displayed at District Arts Fair
• Mystery Art Show: Art activities in all classes to produce for the show!
• Sign-making for Climate March
• Guest Artist Series with Earth Celebrations in April for Sustainability Parade
• Fifth grade Graduation Walking Sticks project with retired art teacher Patrice

It’s that time of the year again: DOE School Surveys!!! Surveys will go out this week and are due back by April 3. This short survey gathers information about your overall satisfaction with the school. The results are published and used to determine our school’s official rating compared to other schools. Each student will receive 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 at NYCSchoolSurvey.org at home or in the PA Room using your access code (in the green envelope). Only one survey needed per family. It’s easy and it takes about 3 minutes. Jocelyn is happy to help!!

Warmest regards, Abbe

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posted Mar 11, 2019, 7:31 PM by Designer Stevie Remsberg

EVENTS & UPDATES.....

March 11, 2019

Dear Families,

It’s that time of the year again: DOE School Surveys!!! This short survey gathers information about your overall satisfaction with the school. The results are published and used to determine our school’s official rating and to compare us with other schools. Each student will receive 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 at NYCSchoolSurvey.org at home or in the PA Room or Library using your access code (in the green envelope). It is very important that each family completes the survey (one per family). It’s easy and it takes about 3 minutes. Jocelyn is happy to help!!

Warmest regards, Abbe

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posted Mar 3, 2019, 12:20 PM by Designer Stevie Remsberg

THE BUZZ.....

March 4, 2019

Dear Families,

I’m sending a big shout out to our amazing parents for putting on the Annual Magic Show!! Our community is grateful for all the effort and teamwork!

Congratulations to the Earth School band for performing at the Battle of the District One Bands on Sunday. Our student talent show, Open Mic at Night is on March 19. Permission Slips went out last week and are due by Friday, 3/8.

I wrote earlier in the week about a particular form of cyberbullying in which an animated character called Momo is inserted into children’s programs on YouTube. The “Momo Challenge” targets children by commanding them to perform dangerous dares while threatening them with dire consequences for not obeying or for telling their parents! In addition to YouTube, many children are hearing about it through parent conversations, social media, their peers, and the news.

On Friday, I spoke to a few second graders who were absolutely terrified by the Momo character shown on news reports and by their parents in an effort to warn them. These children firmly believed that the character was alive inside computers and devices. When I described it as a prank, they fearfully insisted that it was real. I spent quite a bit of time explaining and demonstrating that it is fairly simple to edit digital animation clips onto an existing show and upload it back onto YouTube. I highly doubt that I was able to convince them enough to erase their anxiety, but it was a start. They then volunteered several other characters from video games, the internet, and movies that were also causing them tremendous fear.

I am reminded of how vulnerable elementary school children are to being frightened. Children have soaring imaginations and are still learning to discern fantasy from reality. Furthermore, their knowledge of the world is limited leaving them susceptible to believing what they “see” online and in films. In spite of this, children may be initially drawn to viewing disturbing content. For some children, exposure to highly frightening content may lead to long-lasting anxiety, sleep disturbances, nightmares, phobias, and may diminish their general sense of safety and security.

I urge parents to closely monitor children’s online viewing and to limit children’s exposure to frightening content via video games and movies. Until the Momo scam is contained, I recommend avoiding YouTube. If you want to discuss the scam with your child, please avoid sharing the actual images or audio. If suspect that your child is experiencing anxiety, please contact me so I can provide resources to help.

Warmest regards, Abbe

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posted Feb 24, 2019, 6:58 PM by Designer Stevie Remsberg   [ updated Feb 24, 2019, 6:59 PM ]

February 25, 2019

EVENTS & UPDATES.....


We hope to see EVERYBODY at the Annual Magic Show this FRIDAY, MARCH 1!!
Mystifying entertainment for the WHOLE FAMILY. Spread the word to friends and neighbors!

The Battle of the District 1 Bands is this Sunday, 7 p.m. at the amazing Bowery Ballroom. Come support team Earth School! Adult-only fun (and fundraiser).

Date swap: The Mystery Art Show will be held on March 26. The Open Mic At Night Talent Show will be held on March 19. Please note the date changes!

Reminders from the previous BUZZ:

Grade 3 – 5 families are asked to speak to their teachers about opting out of the State Tests. Earth School Parents have been leaders in the Opt Out Movement over the past five years with only a small fraction of our students taking the state tests. This has allowed Earth School, Neighborhood School, Brooklyn New School, and Castlebridge with similar or greater opt out rates, to maintain higher standards for assessment, such as Narrative Reports and Performance Based Assessment Tasks (more about “PBATS”) and to enjoy greater academic freedom in curriculum. Many gains have already been made, but we need to continue to demand system-wide changes to how we assess student progress and school quality, such as the Quality Review, that don’t hinder high quality and responsive curriculum through extensive test prep and standardization. More info at NYC Opt Out.

Teachers work many hours on EACH Narrative Report and VERY MUCH look forward to hearing your responses. Please complete and return the Family Response Sheet (included in the grey envelope).

• Parent Artists Needed We continue to integrate art into classroom activities and invite parents to be a part. Please reach out to your child’s teacher or me if you want to share your talents!

Warmest regards, Abbe

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posted Feb 10, 2019, 6:51 PM by Designer Stevie Remsberg

THE BUZZ.....

February 11, 2019


Dear Earth School Families,

Last week, we hosted a brief visit by Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and State Assembly Member Harvey Epstein. After a walkthrough of the three schools, I briefly shared some of our exemplary work, including our assessment practices, and lobbied for a more just budget. As you may know, each year The Earth School is docked at least 10% of its funds to cover budget shortfalls in other areas of the school system.

This week is devoted to Family Conferences. Please make an appointment by signing up at the classroom or emailing your teachers. ALL teachers and service providers are eager to meet with you to discuss your child’s progress. Don’t forget to meet with Tim (Cooking), Emmy (Science), and Vince (Movement/PE). Sign ups and info about Tim, Emmy, and Vince’s availability are posted near the Security Desk in the ES Lobby. You can also meet with any of your child’s service providers (Speech, English as a New Language, OT, PT). We hope to see all families!

Grade 3 – 5 families are asked to speak to their teachers about opting out of the State Tests. Earth School Parents have been leaders in the Opt Out Movement over the past five years with only a small fraction of our students taking the state tests. This has allowed Earth School, Neighborhood School, Brooklyn New School, and Castlebridge with similar or greater opt out rates, to maintain higher standards for assessment, such as Narrative Reports and Performance Based Assessment Tasks (more about “PBATS”) and to enjoy greater academic freedom in curriculum. Many gains have already been made, but we need to continue to demand system-wide changes to how we assess student progress and school quality, such as the Quality Review, that don’t hinder high quality and responsive curriculum through extensive test prep and standardization. More info at NYC Opt Out.

Teachers work many hours on EACH Narrative Report and VERY MUCH look forward to hearing your responses. Please complete and return the Family Response Sheet (included in the grey envelope). Please bring your child’s report to your Family Conference next week for further discussion.

Art Update Teachers from all grades are working with an organization called “Meet Me at the Met” to design customized trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this spring. The visits will incorporate topics of study from each grade level. Additionally, several classes have confirmed trips to the much-anticipated Frida Kahlo exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum!! We continue to integrate art into classroom activities and invite parents to be a part. Please reach out to your child’s teacher or me if you want to share your talents!

Recess Update Recess supervisors and teachers have been speaking to students and meeting to discuss ways to improve recess. We are in the process of reviewing structures to make sure there is enough to do and to provide more specific guidelines for safe play.

Warmest regards, Abbe

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posted Feb 3, 2019, 7:54 AM by Designer Stevie Remsberg   [ updated Feb 3, 2019, 7:54 AM ]

THE BUZZ.....

February 3, 2019

Dear Earth School Families,

This week, many families will celebrate the Lunar New Year! Schools are closed on Tuesday to honor the start of the Year of the Pig, a harbinger of fortune and good luck!

Many families choose the Earth School because of its diverse student body. We believe that children learn best in an inclusive environment where people of different abilities, cultures, and identities come together “to appreciate our common humanity.” Cross-cultural experiences help us break stereotypes, build empathy, and “love” one another. They build our collective spirit and help develop our skills for living in a pluralistic society. Over their years at the school, all children come to know a rich mix of students. Parents, however, often do not get to know each other as well. Though we exchange pleasant greetings, we often are not enriched by each other’s diverse stories, “truths,” and cultures. I am sharing this because I have been intensely moved and inspired by getting to know more of you at the 3Rs gatherings. Sharing stories over a meal has been a unique experience that has helped me see beyond my own assumptions and projections. After the conversation and dinner, we feel a new connection to one another. In response to parent feedback, we hold the 3Rs series in the evening with childcare and a meal to be inclusive of those who can’t make it during the workday. We invite you to join us on Thursday and hope to see some new faces!

At this time of year, we send home individual Narrative Reports. Narrative Reports are quite different from traditional report cards. They describe how your child is doing in school rather than summarizing it into letter or number grades. They provide a window into how your child approaches their work, how they relate to peers and adults, their academic progress, their strengths, attitudes, and areas for growth. While the reports do give a sense of how your child is performing relative to “grade level” expectations, the main focus is on describing each child’s unique learning journey. This helps both parents and teachers celebrate children’s growth and focus on how to support their next steps for learning.

Teachers work many hours on EACH report and they VERY MUCH look forward to hearing your responses. Please complete and return the Family Response Sheet (included in the grey envelope). Please bring your child’s report to your Family Conference next week. If there is something that you don’t understand, your teachers will be happy to clarify. In addition, Jocelyn and I are also available to go through it with you.

I am pleased to welcome Iris Gotay, a new paraprofessional, who is working with our Kindergartners in Room 135.

Warmest regards,
Abbe

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posted Jan 29, 2019, 9:21 AM by Designer Stevie Remsberg

THE BUZZ.....

January 27, 2019


Dear Earth School Families,

We have two bits of especially exciting community news. Our beloved Guidance Counselor Shirley Suares gave birth to a new son last week. Congratulations to Shirley and her family on the birth of Matteo Augustus Suares!! We will all miss Shirley while she is on leave for the next few months.

I am also pleased to announce that we have hired a new paraprofessional to work with our first and second graders. We welcome (back) Akusia Evans, an Earth School graduate! How wonderful to have Akusia return to the Earth School Community!

Parent Corps, our parenting support group, will be on break for a few weeks due to Shirley’s leave. We will resume on February 11 with Abbe leading in Shirley’s absence. (It won’t be as good, but please come anyway!!!)

The 1st/2nd graders will be displaying their science projects this week. All welcome to visit the exhibition about Animal Defenses. See below for dates/times.

Warmest regards, Abbe

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posted Jan 22, 2019, 3:59 AM by Designer Stevie Remsberg

THE BUZZ.....

January 22, 2019

Dear Earth School Families,


This week, we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From my small post, I look up to Dr. King for courage when I doubt my course of action or consider avoiding the necessary tensions of change. In “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King calls out the White pastors who opposed his protests and told him to “wait.” He calls out those 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.”


After 30 years of working in NYC public schools, I am heartened to find evidence of a reinvigorated commitment to the “human progress” to which King refers. Brilliant new voices and visions have emerged: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robin D’Angelo, Michelle Alexander, Ava DuVernay, and Bryan Stevenson, to name just a few. While we as a people still suffer the effects of overt racism, such as hate language and White Nationalist movements, and of deeply-rooted “structural” and “cultural” forms, such as pervasive segregation, mass incarceration, police brutality, and the disproportionality of opportunity and access, the focus on equity increasingly visible through media, in our public spaces (museums, monuments, marches), in our history books, and up and down the NYC school system, is promising:


• Mayor De Blasio committed $23 million to mandate that all Department of Education and Police Department employees receive Implicit Bias awareness training.

• Schools Chancellor Carranza has made integration and  “advancing equity” one of his top priorities.

• The Department of Education now has an Office of Equity and Access to coordinate system-wide trainings and initiatives.

• School District 1 has contracted Pacific Education Group to train school principals in the Courageous Conversations Program to examine disproportionality and the achievement gap.

• The NYC Council sponsored 250 teachers to train with Border Crossers (Center for Racial Justice in Education) and 125 teachers to work with NYU’s Critically Conscious Educators Rising program.

• Healthy conversations, learning, and debates about equity, race, access, and representation are happening regularly within the Earth School Community by staff and parents, in the PA, SLT, the Diversity and Difference Study Group, Representation Team, and at 3Rs gatherings.

• The Earth School has augmented classroom libraries and enriched class curricula so that more students see themselves reflected in the books that they read and the lives and histories that they study. Children have more opportunities and resources to learn about themselves and each other in ways that rectify historical biases and omissions.

• Historically underrepresented peoples are recognized by our community year round as “Movers and Shakers” and permanently displayed on the Wall of Brilliance.


As we honor Dr. King’s vision and courageous action, let us recognize our achievements while we acknowledge that there is much work left to do: King’s bell tolls “for you, for me, for all of us.”


Warmest regards, Abbe


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posted Jan 14, 2019, 5:16 AM by Designer Stevie Remsberg

THE BUZZ.....

January 14, 2019


Dear Earth School Families,


It is with concern that I report that elevated lead levels were discovered at two water locations in our school-- in Rooms 114 and 110. Both of these locations were within "acceptable" limits when tested just a year before (see attached). The two locations have been taken out of service for drinking until the pipes are replaced and the water is re-tested. I am attaching the letter from the Department of Education with further information. I will be discussing the situation with the SLT this week. 

 

The staff has begun a discussion of the Grade 1 – 5 recess period with the hopes of making it more peaceful and enjoyable. While recess “downtime” is an important part of the school day, it is also the time when most of the conflicts and excessively rough play occur. Next, teachers will discuss recess play with their classes to gather student feedback and ideas. After this information gathering, we will meet again to come up with an improvement plan.


Warmly,   Abbe

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posted Jan 7, 2019, 7:05 PM by Designer Stevie Remsberg

THE BUZZ.....

January 7, 2019


Dear Earth School Families,
Hap-py New Year!! It was wonderful to hear these words translated by our students and staff into fourteen different languages at Town Meeting on Friday. January is the first month of the solar or Gregorian calendar. We look forward to recognizing other celebrations, such as the Lunar New Year coming up in February. On Friday, we also heard from our Green Team who has been collecting single-use plastic grocery bags for recycling. They urged us to bring reusable bags when shopping. We had trivia about an extraordinary environmentalist. To find out more about Dr. John Francis, please check out this TED talk. I am very excited to announce a special film screening taking place this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium. The Representation Team/3Rs will be hosting an evening of film and discussion about the documentary, Tre Maison Dasan, “an intimate portrait of three boys growing up, each with a parent in prison. Directly told through the child’s perspective, the film is an exploration of relationships and separation, masculinity, and coming of age in America when a parent is behind bars.” We will be joined by Executive Producer and ES parent, Andrew Freiband, and Director, Denali Tiller. See attached flier in my email for further details!!

December’s Lost and Found will be bagged this week. Please check for lost items. November’s Lost and Found bag will go to the collection box.

Warmly, Abbe

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