“Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife.” – John Dewey

Dear Families:

Welcome to the 2019 – 2020 school year! In this packet, you will be inundated with lots of information.  You will hear from your child’s teacher(s), the AfterSchool program, the PTA and the Library. There will be many letters to go through including one about bussing.  We begin with my letter, which discusses a few important topics: the BNS curriculum, the staff retreat, staff changes, the PTA’s support, and some to do’s for that first week of school.  So sit back, relax, and take your time wading through the Summer Packet.

BNS curriculum starts in pre-K with the development of young people, all from different cultures and backgrounds, learning about trees and plants and animals, fearless as they explore in Forest School.  It continues at Shore School as a diverse group of kindergarteners grapple with sand and water. It moves into grade one as our young people learn where food comes from, exploring and gardening in our backyard and deepening their understanding of sustainability.  

Returning to the park in grade two, children think about geology and islands and living here and in far away places.  In third grade, they imagine the world beyond Brooklyn, venturing as far as Africa while in grade four, they learn how Native Americans lived and thrived, and become further aware of issues of race and class and power and privilege.  In fifth grade, they learn about another culture, discovering the Maya while in the spring, they grapple with issues of advocacy and power.  

All this and so much more, all with the goal of broadening perspective and opening up minds to the world beyond, to the big idea of other and self and to becoming kind, conscientious and determined citizens.

Brooklyn New School is fortunate to be a part of a DOE program called Expanded Success Initiative. ESI pushes our staff to come together to discuss equity issues. Included in this work is the support of an Equity Coach, Nakeeba Wauchope, and the opportunity for a committee of teachers to discuss issues that affect the success of our students.  ESI supports schools in developing and implementing culturally responsive educational experiences that support all students, with a goal of improving outcomes for Black and Latino male students.  

John Dewey said,“Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife.” BNS is a living breathing entity, rooted in a belief system that constantly evolves and is reinvented. In order for us to not become stagnant, people must know and understand the story of our school, what we do, and why we do it.  A retreat was planned by our ESI Committee in recognition of the need for our staff of over one hundred to know each other, know our history (the school’s and the staff’s) and to be able to work together to imagine our future.    

Back when Brooklyn New School first opened in 1987, when the entire staff could fit around one table, retreats were an annual tradition.  Once a year the staff would gather in a space away from the school and would spend a day or sometimes two, reflecting on the year and on ways in which we could improve our practice.  These retreats were powerful. We stopped and slowed down, and were able to pay close attention as we reflected on our work and made discoveries and plans for our future.  

Monday June 24th, the first retreat since the nineties, recreated this type of experience for our present staff.  We were fortunate to be hosted by Sarah Lawrence College, a beautiful setting worthy of our presence, and to be fed a catered breakfast and lunch, sponsored by all of you, the BNS PTA. 

We began with the fifth grade teachers sharing their dancing talent (as witnessed by BNS graduates and their parents) and now, the entire BNS staff.  Much of the retreat was an opportunity for story telling. I, for example, talked about our prior retreats back in the eighties and nineties, sharing a history, which then became the foundation for the rest of the day.   

We divided into small groups, allowing for more intimate storytelling in order to further our knowledge of our school and of each other.  Each individual brought an artifact to the retreat, which further illustrated the story of BNS. 

An afternoon activity included the Human Knot with groups of individuals struggling to untangle themselves, some working quickly and others, finally having to stop as there were still other activities left to do.  

Special thanks to Mariella for capturing these photos for us!

I shared another story entitled From Parking Lot to Green Recess, telling how the backyards at 610 Henry Street went from being dedicated to cars to being dedicated to growing children and eventually, growing plantsThis led to the BNS staff imagining the possible, complete with theatrical illustrations of future dreams for BNS.  

We spent time considering where we began, how we came together, where we are now, and where we will go next. We didn’t get it all done, but we left feeling rejuvenated and ready for the summer, a summer that will prepare all of us for the school year, 2019- 2020.  Many thanks to the PTA!  

We take a minute in this letter to share with you the staffing changes for 2019-2020.  

We welcome Skye Frohlich, Zack DePetris, Michael Cruz and Navika Nagarmat to BNS.  Skye will co teach first grade with Sarah. Skye comes to us from PS 11 where she taught Pre-K. Skye has been teaching since 2014. Zack comes to us from Central Park East where he worked with kindergarten and first grade.  Before that he was a student teacher here at BNS. Zack student taught with Malika in grade three and he returns to co-teach with Malika. Michael has been a teacher since 2011 and comes to us from the Brooklyn Arbor School.  Michael was a founding staff member of Brooklyn Arbor and is moving from grade one to grade five where he looks forward to teaching alongside Rachel Lane. Navika student taught in Antoinette and Nancy’s fifth grade last year. This year, she returns to grade five, co-teaching with Laurie.

Although we are a public school, our budget does not cover all the needs of our community.  Besides the PTA’s fundraising efforts, there are also requests from classroom teachers including the one in this packet where teachers will either ask you to go out and buy supplies or ask for a contribution so that they can purchase the supplies in bulk.  As a school, we put almost all our allocations into personnel. We depend on the PTA paying for much of the program including general supplies, trips, and enrichment. Our work with community organizations such as the Brooklyn Arts Exchange or the Brooklyn Children’s Museum is generally paid for with your contributions. 

We know that school supplies are costly.  It is for this reason that we ask families to determine what contribution is realistic for them. Think of this as a sliding scale.  So if the grade level requests $75 for supplies, please feel comfortable sending less and of course, sending more. We truly believe that if we all give what we can, then we will have enough for everyone!

Contributing money towards supplies is just one way to support the classroom community. There are many other ways that do not cost money. You can join your child’s class when they go on a trip, come in and help in the classroom, or join our assessment panels as a volunteer panelist. You can be a class parent or volunteer to help organize a PTA event.  Even if none of those things are possible for your family, please know that we appreciate you sending your child to be part of our school every day. Every child and family add something special to our community. Our school is stronger and more vibrant when we all come together.

Orientation for new parents in pre-K through fifth grade will be held on the morning of September 5 in the Library, room 401. There will be two orientations: the first at 8:30 am and the second at 10:30 am to accommodate pre-K and K phase in. Please check the letter from your child’s teacher to see which orientation you should attend. Parents in grade 1-5 usually attend the early session. We will discuss school routines and answer questions. You will learn about AfterSchool and will be given information on busing. 

We want to remind you about the importance of attending the September meetings with your child’s teacher.  Pre-K and Kindergarten meetings will take place during the phase in period while meetings for families in grade one to five will occur during the first few weeks of school.  In this packet, you will receive an appointment. We recognize that not everyone can make this time, but hope that you will try. If the hour is impossible, please reach out to other parents in your class to switch times. These ten minute meetings are a chance for you to talk about your child.  Tell the teacher a little family history and share a hope and dream that you have for your youngster. Remember, this is the meeting in which you talk and the teacher listens. It’s a powerful way to start the year. 

Keep in mind that we have a very informative website: www.bns146.org.   Add it to your favorites and check it periodically to keep up with school news.  On our website, you’ll find some important guidelines, like our cell phone policy and DOE social media policy, for example.

When school starts, you will receive many permission forms in backpack mail. Please return them immediately.

You are also responsible for:

  • Emergency contact cards – blue cards (hard copy will come from your teachers)

Keep these cards updated if your contact information changes during the year. Blue cards are kept in the Main Office and the nurse’s office, room 105.

One form must be filled out for every child every year whether or not your family qualifies for low income status (previously known as free or reduced price lunch) and whether or not your child eats school lunch. This is mandated by the federal government, and the form must be completed immediately. 

Busing starts on the first day of school for returning families only. New families or families that have moved must fill out the bus registration form. Each child must review and sign a behavior contract so that we can ensure the safety of your children. 

We strongly suggest that kindergarten families do not use the bus the first two weeks of school. It is better to introduce the youngest members of our community after the drivers and older children have settled in. Pre-K students may not use the yellow bus – a parent or caregiver must drop pre-K students off and pick them up from the classroom. 

          Please read the letter about BNS AfterSchool. 

NYCDOE Policies and Guidelines

Public schools have many sets of guidelines and policies that relate to many aspects of our lives at school.  Here are links to some of those documents:

Contacting Teachers

All of our teachers have a school email account.  You can contact them by emailing them @bns146.org.  For most staff you just need to use the first name. For example, my email address is anna@bns146.org  On the other hand, our parent coordinator, Amy Sumner’s email address is amysumner@bns146.org  – this is because there’s more than one Amy here at the Brooklyn New School! 

School begins on September 5th,2019.  School will start at 8:10am every day and end at 2:30pm.   

In the beginning of the school year, your child will come home with plenty of paperwork. Much of this will need to be read, filled out immediately and returned to your child’s teacher. We do a great deal of communicating via children’s folders. Remember to check your child’s folders every day for important mail. We do use email to supplement backpack mail. Please join our newsgroup by sending an email to amysumner@bns146.org with your connection to the school. 

Congratulations!  You’ve come to the end of the first of many long communications from BNS this school year.  We know that working together, we are making history! See you soon.

All for now, 

Anna

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Dear Families:

We wanted to update you on some unexpected staffing changes.  Since sending the summer letter, we have learned that fourth grade teacher, Nneka, will be taking a leave of absence this school year due to a personal family matter.

Upon hearing of this change, we met over the summer to ensure that we planned, hired, and staffed in a way that would be best for both this fourth grade class, the teachers, and the school.  

For this reason, we made the decision to ask Zachary DePetris, the teacher we had hired to teach with Malika, to move up to grade four to teach with Kaelyn.  Like Kaelyn, Zachary is a graduate of the renowned School of Education at Syracuse University and like Kaelyn, he student taught at BNS. Last year, he worked at Central Park East.  We love the idea of Kaelyn and Zachary bringing their Syracuse training into the same classroom. For this reason, we decided to look for another third grade teacher.

We were fortunate to have many people still interested in working at BNS and were able to convene the hiring committee in the middle of the summer in order to find the perfect person to co-teach with Malika.  

After interviewing a number of candidates, we asked Claudia Rolando to join the BNS faculty. As with many of our hires, Claudia was not unknown to us.  Claudia is a Brooklyn College graduate who student taught at BNS in Amy and Penina’s second grade classroom. In her application, Claudia wrote, “As a young child myself, in an immigrant household I was always told that every accomplishment you believe in and achieved was just a step further to accomplish more.”  Claudia brings this attitude to her teaching and we are excited to have her as an influence for our students. Malika and Claudia can’t wait to get started!

Please email or call if you have any further questions.

Anna and Diane

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