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)

Summer Letter 2022 Final(1).pdf
We are the stories we tell ourselves. Joan Didion quote.

July 2022

We are the stories we tell ourselves.

-Joan Didion

After two tumultuous years, we entered January 2022 grounded in our expectation of excellence. We entered the new year certain of our continued commitment to keep our children together, safe and sound in body, mind, and spirit. We can look back on the remarkable moments from 2021-22 to remind us who we are. Reflecting on Spring 2022, our District 26 stories tell tales of strength and strategy, empathy and energy, learning and leadership, collaboration and community.

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Join us on a tour of our stories from 2022 to remind us who we are:

March

Student Leadership Project (SLP) Meeting

It is March and our Student Leadership Project (SLP) is meeting on a Zoom call, debriefing about their winter initiative. Two screens are filled with Student Organization (SO) presidents and their SLP staff liaisons from across District 26. Our student leaders are sharing beautiful stories about their Valentine’s Day Collaborative Card Projects.

After a group Jamboard exercise, an 8th grade president excitedly talks about partnering with her SLP peers to visualize the initial scope of their project. Her enthusiasm bubbles over as she explains how building relationships with other SO presidents from around the district has helped her feel more secure as a student leader on a school level. Confidence shines in her smile as she shares about managing the student-led initiative in her school.

One by one, SO presidents speak about their own rewarding journeys--from inception, to creation, to delivery--of gifting student-made cards to community groups on Valentine’s Day. Staff liaisons are listening, silently delighting in the deep satisfaction their students have found in spreading joy throughout the District 26 community. Our young leaders describe how fulfilling it feels to prioritize love for their community and express gratitude to firefighters, school cafeteria staff, nursing home residents, etc. Everyone agrees that this opportunity to convey heartfelt appreciation to members of their own neighborhoods has strengthened social bonds and inspired more acts of kindness among their classmates. As we leave the call, students excitedly begin discussing plans for spring projects at their schools.

April

Spring Break Mindful Mornings Family Workshop

It’s a Tuesday morning in April. Schools are closed for Spring Break, but nearly 200 District 26 families are connecting though Spring Break Mindful Mornings. Let’s join the 9:30 AM Zoom call. All eyes are closed. Elementary and middle school children and their parents are breathing slowly and deeply. Our amazing facilitator is a District 26 parent, who is also a certified mindfulness coach and DOE teacher. She is explaining the importance of developing strong social-emotional skills and teaching families how to observe their breath and use it to manage difficult emotions. When the exercise draws to a close most of the group is calm and centered. Although a few children are a little bit wiggly in their seats, excited with anticipation of making the craft.

The energy quickly shifts to a more exuberant mood as parents and children of all ages to unpack their craft supply kits, which were lovingly assembled by the District Family Support Team and distributed to families through their school’s parent coordinator. The computer screen is alive with beads, feathers, and pipe cleaners as children create mindful breathing wands. We watch as they count the beads and blow gently on the feather, regulating their breath to support social-emotional well-being.

Children are engaged and inquisitive; they freely unmute themselves to ask questions and excitedly share ideas. There is a joyful stream of chatter and laughter from our elementary students. Two middle schoolers share tips with their younger peers on how they use emojis to check in with their feelings throughout the day. The hour workshop has zipped by and no one wants to it to end. Everyone leaves happy, however, because they know they can join again tomorrow and Thursday mornings.

May

District 26 Principal’s Conference

It is a gorgeous day in mid-May as we step into PS 46’s cozy library, where District 26 principals are joyfully mingling over breakfast. They are soaking up collegial love and basking in the bliss of the very first in-person Principal’s Conference since February 2020. Old friends are hugging; new colleagues are meeting face-to-face for the first time.

A robust agenda focusing on strategic programming and scheduling for the 2022-23 school year frames the day, but first a bit of fun. The District Team has secretly consulted with assistant principals in advance of the meeting to collect quirky traits of our principals. Twenty-eight slips of paper are drawn from a hat and read aloud: “a dependence on Diet Coke,” “twirling in her chair when frustrated,” “a tendency toward Stars Wars references,” “wearing unique socks to match his outfit,” etc. Everyone is laughing and joking as we try to guess which school leader matches with each silly habit. The mood is so festive we almost forget we are at a meeting.

Then, Superintendent Giunta gently shifts gears and the giggles fade. With bagels and coffee cleared away, it is time for principals to focus on the “why” of their work: our children. We can see our leaders become deeply engaged in planning and sharing creative strategies. As they reflect on what worked well this year, and assess the teaching, learning, and social-emotional needs for the next, we leave the library confident they will continue to raise the District 26 bar for excellence in 2022-23.

Superintendent Hiring Process Town Hall

Now let’s log onto a Zoom call on a Wednesday night at the end of May. Parent leaders from District 26’s Community Education Council and Presidents’ Council are welcoming our entire community to a Town Hall for the superintendent hiring process. Nearly 200 parents, students, principals, teachers, parent coordinators, other school staff, and local elected officials have prioritized their time to be here tonight. They are deeply committed to show their unwavering support for our very own Superintendent Danielle Giunta.

There is nervous tension in the air as the evening begins. Parent leaders pepper the candidates with insightful, challenging questions, which were submitted by stakeholders from across the district. Both candidates are cordial, thoughtful, and professional. Their intelligent, compassionate answers clearly indicate they are both highly qualified for a superintendent position. But our community knows who they want leading the district: Danielle Giunta.

When the candidates log off, it is time for the District 26 family to provide feedback. You can hear the passion and urgency in every voice as, one by one, community members unmute to unanimously share strong statements of support for Superintendent Giunta. Nearly an hour later, when all attendees have spoken, it is unquestionably clear that she is the people’s choice. Now, we hold our breathe until Chancellor Banks’s announces his in June…

June

PreK Badge Book

Let’s step into the gymatorium at PS 376 on June 1, where a full day of PreK professional development is underway. This large, open space is alive with an animated buzz as teachers learn about PreK Badge Books, an exciting and groundbreaking approach to early childhood instruction.

School leaders and educators, from PS 115, PS 376, and PS/IS 178, describe how they piloted the program in 2021-22, wholistically reshaping the PreK experience at their schools. They explain how this authentic, student-centered assessment puts New York State Instructional Standards into simple, actionable, developmentally appropriate tasks for students to master in school and at home.

You watch as teachers step into the role of students, cycling through learning stations and eagerly absorbing the new information. As you walk around the room, you feel the excitement grow as educators begin to embrace this novel approach. You hear phrases like “supporting self-efficacy,” “cultivating a ‘can do’ culture in the classroom,” “placing students at the center of their own education,” and “partnering with parents.” As we walk out the door, you notice the wonder and awe in teachers faces as they begin to shift their thinking and creatively envision how to realign their work.

District 26 Team

Let’s peek into the District 26 Office in MS 74. It is June 27, the last day of school. We join the District Team celebrating the re-hiring of Superintendent Giunta.

But, sadly, the mood is not as festive as we would wish because Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Tara Davison will be leaving the district in just a few short days.

Despite the gratitude for their good fortune, the team is feeling blue. Today they have put their unhappy feelings aside, however, and rallied for the occasion. On the table are flowers for Danielle, a big basket of goodbye gifts for Tara, and a chocolate cake for everyone. They are reminiscing about Tara’s professionalism and unbelievable dedication to our schools. They speak of her exceptional kindness, and share stories about the many times she saved the day with brilliant, out-of-the-box solutions. Holding back tears, the team sings a verse of “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow” and wishes Tara success in her new position. We slip out the door quietly, allowing the team some space during this private moment.

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The stories above from 2022 tell us who we are in District 26. Our collaborative community and collective commitment to excellence are the common thread in our narrative. Please click here to read more 2021-22 success stories from around District 26.

Before we say so long for the summer, indulge us, please, with one last visit…

September

Let’s jump ahead to the first day of the 2022-23 school year. Superintendent Giunta is sitting in the early morning autumn light filtering through the windows of MS 74. She has stopped off at her office for a quiet cup of coffee before she begins her traditional first-day-of-school visits, a practice she put in place when she first came to District 26 to ensure that a member of the District Team connects with every school. Her 2022-23 planner lies open on the desk in front of her, the framework of the year sketched across its pages. The calendar is punctuated with her characteristic colorful stickers, highlighting important dates and organizing the year around the district goals and visions. She flips through the pages; they are mostly empty but she knows they are filled with opportunity and potential of every student in District 26.

In this rare moment of silence, holding the warm mug of coffee in her hands, Superintendent Giunta reflects on the love and support she feels from and for her community. She is overcome with gratitude and appreciation for her continued good fortune to lead a community so interconnected and committed to excellence. She takes her last sip of coffee and heads for the door. Centered and grounded, she starts her day.

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As we slide into summer, we wish you all a cool and restful summer creating beautiful family memories, each one a special story to tell ourselves--and each other--to remind us who we are.


See you in September!

Sincerely,

Superintendent Danielle Giunta and the District 26 Team

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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).