UAI Staff Summer News
As I emailed earlier this week, a collaboration of principals, parents, school staff, and school community members are coming together to call for a Phased Reopening of NYCDOE schools in the Fall. I do not yet know whether these efforts will be impactful, but I want to give a huge shout out to Annie's wife, and my friend and colleague, Emily Paige, principal of the UA Unison school, who has led this charge with a plan that is thoughtfully and intentionally put together with input and feedback from her colleagues throughout District 13. The plan draws from another colleague's proposal, Principal Luke Bauer of the UA Maker Academy.
I have joined my colleague's in their call. In March, we were thrown into a situation that arrived unexpectedly. However, the opening of schools is not unexpected and both NY State and NY City implemented a phased in approach to ensure a safe recovery from COVID. We only ask the same.
It is important to leverage whatever we can to create a strong foundation to opening a school year like no other. I encourage you all to review the District 13 proposal and to share it far and wide with those who you feel would like to know more and/or support.
Introducing Nakita & Jean Necole. I would like to warmly welcome our newest staff members Nakita Van Biene (Earth Science Teacher) and Jean Necole Longmore (ICT Earth Science & AP Environmental) to UAI for the upcoming school year. Just as I have with all of you, I've asked both Nakita and Jean Necole to give me their pictures and bios so that we can all get to know each other a little bit better! If you have Nakita or Jean Necole on your planning teams, please reach out to them and give them a warm UAI welcome to your planning team! Phil has already set them up with UAI emails! Nakita: firstname.lastname@example.org Jean Necole: email@example.com
Nakita VanBiene (pronouns: they/them/theirs) is excited to join the UAI community this year as an Earth Science teacher. They studied Geosciences at Williams College in Massachusetts before moving to New York City, where they assistant taught geometry. They then pursued their Masters in Teaching Earth Science at the American Museum of Natural History, where they were able to make many connections between Earth Science and New York City. This shaped how Nakita views education--they want their students to be able to look around and see science anywhere and everywhere. Nakita wants their students to see themselves as scientists, who can one day expand the field of science to include and celebrate more diverse voices and experiences.
Jean Necole Longmore. I attended Cortland University where I received my Bachelor's Degree in Childhood Education. I later earned my Master's Degree for Students with Disabilities. I became a middle school teacher for 5 years where I taught Science and Mathematics. I am now eager and excited to be joining the UAI team!
Summer Departures. As we knew, Joanna & Amanda have moved on. During the first week of August, I received calls from both Nick and Giselle that they, too, were leaving UAI. Nick is transferring to the High School for Health Professions, and Giselle is transferring to Laguardia High School. We thank them for all of the work and commitment that they gave to our girls and our community while they were with us, and we wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors!
Updates from the Summer Restructuring Committee. The Summer Restructuring Committee has been working tirelessly to rethink our systems and structures that obstructed equity at UAI. Here are some updates from the committee. This summer, the Summer Restructuring Committee divided into three main subcommittees:
Programming: The goal of the Programming Subcommittee was to create a program that incorporates teacher voice, maximally mitigates COVID transmission, addresses the needs of ENL and SPED learners, and enhances the capacity for co-teachers to work effectively. Nadine, Laura, Doris, Rachel worked collaboratively with school leadership (Kiri & Annie) to gather feedback from staff (via union meetings, SLT meetings, phone calls, surveys, etc.) and build a program that achieves these goals. Ultimately, the work of the committee resulted in The 2020-2021 Schedule
Grading: The Grading Subcommittee (Cherry, Nina, Danielle R, Tiffany, Annie, & Kiri) has been working on revamping our current grading policy, and has met with Darnese Olivieri, Ruben Mina, and Marilyn Stotts from the DOE Office of Equity to create a policy that it is rooted in equity, is consistent and transparent, promotes student accountability, increases student motivation, and encourages teachers to increase both rigor and have high expectations for student success and growth. To do this, we have decided to implement some aspects of the Mastery Collaborative that call for ongoing formative assessment that lead to "clear, timely and actionable" feedback for students, and drive them toward mastery. We are in the process of developing a draft, and will share out with the staff for feedback. Additionally, we aim to get feedback from staff on the support needed to effectively and consistently implement the new grading policy.
Professional Development. The programming subcommittee (Damon, Phillan, Jen) enlisted the help of many of you to plan and deliver a week of professional development experiences aimed at preparing everyone for the upcoming school year. Please check out their flyer below:
Launching an Equity Team. At the end of the year last year, UAI engaged in much overdue and very challenging conversations around race and equity. To carry through that work and to not let it die, Rebecca has been working hard to put together a thoughtful and well-researched plan for launching our first Equity Team. I know she presented this to staff at the last union meeting, but so far only FOUR people have shown interest. It's summer, so know that has a lot to do with it, but we do need your voices at the table. Please take a moment to complete this BRIEF SURVEY
Preparing for Next Year. Finally, please Archive Your Google Classrooms from 2019-20. As we wind up the summer to prepare for next year, we will want to start fresh and create an organized Google Classroom Environment for our students and families. Please attend the PD session on Google Classroom and Zoom to learn more!