THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Danielle Giunta, Community Superintendent District 26

Contacting the District Office

Here are the many ways you can reach out to the District Team:​

  • call the District 26 Office

  • send us an email

  • call our Family Support Team

(between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM)

Winter letter 2022 finalweb.pdf

January 2022

Even in darkness it is possible to create light.

-Elie Weisel

This time of year, when days are short and nights are long, many of us, our children included, wake before dawn and return home after sunset. We barely have the chance to see the sun, even on days when the grey winter clouds allow it. It is easy to grow so accustomed to the dark that we do not even realize we miss the light.

The earliest humans marked the winter solstice with ceremonies involving fire to symbolize the sun and its life-sustaining power. And still today, cultures across the globe, celebrate the end of the darkest days with candles and lights, small pieces of the summer sun to lift our spirits and carry us through the long winter ahead. In District 26, our children are our light. Like bright stars in the night sky, our students shined throughout the first half of the school year.

Image of book cover, Come with Me, by Holly McGhee

We launched the school year with our tradition of drawing inspiration from children’s literature. Come with Me by Holly McGhee reminded us how our children are brave, kind, and most importantly, how much they matter to the world. In District 26, to ensure all students felt safe and comfortable as we welcomed them back into classrooms, we prioritized our commitment to social-emotional well-being with our Nine Days of Love initiative. Strong in our conviction that social-emotional learning (SEL) is the foundation for personal growth and academic success, our students and teachers spent the first two weeks of school strengthening social skills and rebuilding connections. A committed, compassionate focus on SEL in September established trusting classroom environments where all students mattered and were prepared and excited to shine in collaborative, rigorous instruction in 2021-22.

Civics For All

District 26 is very proud to be the first district in NYC to introduce the Civics for All curriculum in every one of our elementary and middle schools. We know a robust civics education is essential to grow our children into responsible, engaged adults. Our students are collaborating through interactive, project-based learning as they explore the foundations of United States government and the democratic process. They are honing their critical thinking skills as they make crucial connections between history and current events. This important work comes to life as students learn about their communities, meet local elected officials, and make real world connections. Civics for All is preparing our children to become informed and responsible citizens and to understand the impact they can make in the world.

This fall, some of our students participated in Project Soapbox, a nationwide program where young people research, write, and present short persuasive speeches, which address important issues in their communities. Prioritizing self-agency and thoughtful self-expression, students are empowered to follow their passions as they discover and develop their voices. Building confidence and strengthening self-esteem, Project Soapbox provides an opportunity for our civic-minded young people to shine brightly. We are doubly excited that several District 26 students have been selected to participate in the citywide Project Soapbox competition this month!

Student Leadership Project

The democratic process came to life in our schools this fall through our Student Organization (SO) elections and our Student Leadership Project (SLP). In November, students from each of our elementary and middle schools elected leaders to represent them on a school and district level. With a focus on developing and strengthening character traits essential for successful leaders, our SO presidents meet to share ideas and identify and explore common concerns. This student-driven project is supported by SO staff liaisons and partners with student leaders from Cardozo High School to investigate and address real world problems.

Currently, the SLP is crafting their team charter to define how members want to feel when they are collaborating and what actions they will take to ensure all voices are heard. Prioritizing the importance of diverse perspectives and looking at ideas from multiple viewpoints, our student leaders work together to identify issues of shared concern, brainstorm solutions, and collaborate on community projects to address the issues. Heading into Valentine’s Day, our student leaders are creating and delivering greeting cards to various community members, as they continue to spread light and love throughout District 26 and beyond.

Computer Science in District 26

The District 26 Computer Science mission, to engage students in problem solving and computational thinking as pathways for creative expression and voice in their own culturally responsive and sustaining 21st century education, is shining bright in District 26!

All District 26 students have units of study to develop and master basic computer literacy skills and explore the idea of digital citizenship. Our District 26 Computer Science Task Force, a diverse group of parents, teachers, administrators, as well as district, borough, and central DOE staff, came together in the summer of 2020 with an understanding that digital and technological fluency are crucial skills for success in college and beyond. Our CS Task Force is committed to expand access and build digital equity and opportunity for all students, ensuring alignment to the New York State Computer Science and Digital Fluency standards.

We are so excited that a new cohort of teachers are developing their own coding skills to enrich their classroom instruction. As we enter the second year our collaboration with BootUp PD, 30 educators are learning how to code and integrate coding projects into all academic areas of content. As they develop and expand their CS skills, these amazing teachers are creating online and offline coding lessons to ensure students have equitable exposure to technology and pathways for creative expression.

In December, we celebrated Computer Science Education Week by kicking off our three CS “Chopped” Challenges. This contest, based on the popular competitive cooking television show, asked students to use “secret ingredients” to create coding projects. Students used Scratch, a programming language with a simple visual interface, to develop their creations. The themes of the three weekly challenges were designed to spark ideas about diversity, heroism, and perseverance. Over 300 amazing students from kindergarten to 8th grade rose to the challenge. Please visit the Computer Science webpage at district26.org to view some impressive submissions and the first District CS Newsletter this fall.

As we moved into winter, we are grounding ourselves in another piece of children’s literature. I am Courage by Susan Verde, tells the story of a child who finds personal strength by pushing on through adversity. With the love and support of friends, the child perseveres. As January bears on through the dark and cold, it is very simple to walk into a dark room and turn on the lights. It is very simple, too simple in fact, to disconnect from our most basic human truth: we all look for the sun to dispel the darkness. During winter, it is hard to remember that as each day passes, the sun is shining a little bit longer. Sooner than it seems, we will begin to notice the light returning and the fragrant, hopeful scents of spring in the air. Until then, we must cherish the light where we can find it. As the child in I am Courage reminds us: We are strong. We are capable. We are important. We are courage.

In District 26 in 2022, our schools continue to shine bright and create light through adversity. We celebrate the return of all our students to our classrooms where they can grow and glow in the light of excellence in education.

Sincerely,

Superintendent Danielle Giunta and the District 26 Team

Visit US! Follow us on Social Media!

District 26 Office

61-15 Oceania Street

Room 129

Bayside, NY 11364

718-631-6943 (phone)

718-631-6996 (fax)

Located inside of Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School (M.S. 74).