Sunday, August 25, 2019

Week of August 26th

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 2
August 26, 2019


Farewell to our Former Staff Members.  We honor those teachers who are moving beyond UAI onto different chapters of their lives.  The work we do on a daily basis is crucial, and the commitment and passion that all of our teachers bring for our students and their families are integral to their future growth and achievement.  We appreciate the hard work that all of our teachers invest in our school, our families, and our students.  A particularly heartfelt thank you goes out to those teachers whose life paths are leading them to chapters beyond UAI.

  • Megan Goodwin, 7th Grade Science & AP Biology.  Megan joined UAI as a new teacher two years ago.  Working with Marsha this past year, Megan grew significantly in her pedagogical practice.  This past June, Megan left UAI to begin her new life with her fiancee in Boston.  At the end of the year, she was able to secure a position in Brookline and was wrapping up her loose ends to move over the summer.  Her work with our students and families will always be appreciated, and we wish her the best of luck!
  • Meaghan Haughaard,  ICT Science.  Meaghan joined UAI as a new teacher three years ago.  She was a committed teacher who stepped up to fill in as a science teacher in her first two years.  As an ICT science teacher, Meaghan used her deepening knowledge in science to support our students who struggled most.  Meaghan's life path led her to move to California this past summer.  We appreciate all that she did to contribute to our UAI community and our students.  We wish her the best in her future endeavors!
  • Tracy Kornrich, Dance.  Tracy has been with UAI since 2007.  Over the years, Tracy worked both as a visual art and dance teacher.  Tracy was committed to improving her practice, seeking out support from the UFT and external PD to enhance her classroom skills.  Tracy brought opportunities for our students to express their creative side and her efforts to do so will always be appreciated!  As Tracy moves forward in her next roles, we wish her the best!
  • Kristi Lee, Earth Science.  Kristi was with UAI for just one year, and throughout that year, she fully committed to trying her best to bring high-quality lessons to UAI Earth Science students.  Her efforts were valued and appreciated, and we wish her the best of luck as she moves on to explore career paths outside of teaching.
  • Zach Utter, Global Studies.  Zach is originally from upstate New York and came to NYC last year to join UAI.  Zach had an incredibly successful year with Kelly, Suzannah, and Annie which led to amazing results on the new Global Regent exam.  During the summer, Zach resolved that living in the city did not mesh with his smaller town roots. He informed us in July that he is moving back upstate, and we wish him the best of luck and continued success as he continues to grow as a teacher.

Welcome to our New Staff Members!

Aasiya Raheem, ICT Science.  Aasiyah began her journey as an educator in 2011 in the Montessori Schools. While working, she earned her Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education and her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with Education Specialties. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Education Teaching Urban Adolescents with Disabilities ay LIU Brooklyn.  Aasiyah has traveled to over 10 countries and has taught public, private, and homeschools in 3 of these countries. These experiences have led her back NYC; to the city in which she spent most of her school years. Equipped with the strong influences of Dr. Maria Montessori and the Honorable Marcus Garvey; Aasiyah is on a mission to facilitate a way by which our children are “prepared for the creation of their own particular civilization." 

Rachel Batson, 10th Grade English & AP English Lit.  Rachel began her teaching career in South Carolina, but in 2009, she moved to California, where she she taught for 7 years. During this time, Rachel ran intervention programs, AP vertical alignment teams, grade level teams, and after school programs. Rachel’s  niches in teaching and leading are planning, coaching, providing direct, actionable feedback, and infusing curriculum with engaging, rigorous, relevant themes and activities. In 2016, Rachel moved to NYC and began teaching at Success Academy's High School, where she served as an AP English teacher and interim Dean of English. Rachel left SA after one year for Brooklyn Ascend High School to be the English Chair and 11th grade ELA teacher because of their restorative practice program. For Rachel, teaching is more than a job; it's a calling, a craft, a catalyst for change. In joining UAI, Rachel has joined a group of like-minded professionals!

Nick Juliusburger, 9th & 12th grade Physics. Nick Juliusburger worked for thirty years in the tech industry before leaving the company he helped found to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. Returning to education, he completed a combined major of Adolescence Education & Physics at the State University of New York in New Paltz where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. He is excited to have the opportunity to share his passion for physics with the students of the UAI. When Nick is not in the classroom he can be found biking around Manhattan, hiking upstate, or watching films.

Amy Cheng, Living Environment and AP Biology. Amy has been teaching for over ten years, in Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey. 2019-2020 will be her second year teaching in New York City. Her former students now live and work everywhere, from a biology educator at Turtle Back Zoo in Newark, to a professional scientist in Salt Lake City, to a master’s student in Oxford, UK. Amy is committed to the personal and professional growth of her students. Outside of teaching, Amy enjoys hikes with her family, cooking healthy (and irresistible, not-so-healthy recipes), and reading non-fiction.

Emma Sweikert, 7th Grade Science and MS Elective. Emma is completing her summer residency with the Teaching Fellows and is excited to begin her first year of teaching at UAI. Emma's passion is connecting with and supporting newly arrived immigrant communities, particularly refugee youth. Prior to joining the Teaching fellows, Emma worked at the Arab-American Family Support Center where she provided academic support in developing literacy and leadership skills. During her work, she also developed and executed STEAM curricula for middle schoolers. Throughout her work, Emma incorporated trauma-informed approaches and socioemotional development in the classroom.

Sarah Rosenblum, 6th Grade Science and ICT 6th Grade Math. Teaching middle school science is my passion. Sixteen years ago, I joined Teach for America and began working as a sixth-grade science and math teacher. At both Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS)  and more recently at MS 839, Sarah has always been committed to ensuring that every student receives an excellent science education. Sarah is a lead teacher with Urban Advantage which provides high-quality professional development support and a variety of resources for science to schools just like ours. Sarah understands that students are faced with many challenges in and out of the classroom. She continually strives to offer her students a variety of opportunities and experiences designed to help them not only address their immediate problems but to grow and thrive as people.

More Announcements

Final Schedule.  After reviewing the needs of incoming students and final grades from summer school, there have been some adjustments to the schedule.  CLICK HERE to see the final schedule.  We will be making adjustments to rosters this week, so you will not have your final rosters until Tuesday's PD.  We will be going through all of the specific program changes in person during PD when we are all together on Tuesday 03SEP, so send me your questions so that I can integrate those into that bit of the PD!

UAI's First AP Boot Camp!  Rebecca C. and the AP teachers have been working hard to launch our very first Boot Camp for AP classes.  With our partnership with AP for All, UAI launched four AP classes: AP Spanish, AP Environmental Science, AP Biology, and AP English Language.  Now, with support from AP for All, we are launching an AP Boot Camp to give our next round of students an improved ability to perform in these demanding courses.  This year, we will add two more AP classes (AP World History and AP English Literature) bringing UAI's AP offerings to a total of 6, far exceeding our goal of launching 5 courses within 3 years.  Many congrats to our team of AP teachers and many thank yous to Rebecca C for coordinating all the efforts around this amazing feat!

Introduce Girls to Action Sports through Building Boards.  Over the summer, Ms. Nina (10th Geo/12th College Algebra) struck up a new partnership with Stoked, an organization committed to closing opportunity gaps through board sports.  To support this project, Nina created a Donors Choose project.  Please help her get the word out by posting to your social media and sharing in your circles.  We have a number of young women who would be soooo stoked to be part of this program.  Help us help Nina get this project off the ground!

To Do This Week

This Week's Prep and Planning Time for Per Session.  All staff are invited to come in from 8:30-12:30 to set up classrooms, create welcoming bulletin boards, and get a jump on their planning for the school year.  Teachers who come in must stop by Nancy's office to collect a time card and clock in and out for training-rate per session.  Please do not forget to clock in and out.  If you forget, we will not be able to process your hours for payment.  This year, Annie will be approving per session hours.  Please submit your timesheets to her by the end of day on Friday for approval. 

Expectations For 1st Day of School Launch.  In addition to per session time this week, teachers will also have some time at the end of the PD days on Tuesday and Wednesday next week to prepare for the 1st day of school.  To be ready, here's what we need to do:
  • Planning and Preparation.  The key to a strong start to the year is immediately providing students with challenging content via effectively planned lessons and activities.  
    • Pacing Guide & September Lesson Plans.  When we conduct classroom observations and visits, we look at the pacing guides prior to visiting the classroom to review your lesson plans.  If you prefer, you can printed copies ready for us when we arrive in the classroom.  You can either make a copy of your pacing guide from last year or make a copy of this template.  Upload your pacing guide to this folder using this nomenclature "Teacher Name_Course_Pacing Guide 2019-20" and link your September Lessons into the guide by the first day of school.  Note:  When you link lessons to your guide, please do NOT copy the URL from the web browser.  Rather, click on the "Share" button to grab the link that you can copy and paste into your pacing guide.
  • Classroom Set-Up.
    • Furniture.  Classroom has sufficient chairs and desks for students and furniture is clean and well-organized in preparation to receive students.  
    • DecorClassroom decor is text-rich, communicates rigorous expectations, and creates an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students
    • Materials and Books.  All classroom materials & books have been organized and stored in classroom shelves and/or closets.  All packing materials have been removed from the rooms and there is nothing stored in large packing crates or boxes on table surfaces or floors.
  • Bulletin Board Prep.  At UAI, we do not obsess about bulletin board updates, but we do recognize that hallway bulletin boards are where we have an opportunity to communicate UAI's expectations for student learning and achievement to both our own community and to those visitors who come to see what we do.  Please do NOT post anything directly on the walls.  You can tape things to tiles, but do NOT post on the paint (as per custodial request).  Periodically, you will receive bulletin board prep time to update boards in preparation for visitors and events (e.g. Curriculum Night, Student-Led Conferences, etc).  This first round of board work will be in preparation for Day 1 AND for our first Curriculum Night (19SEP19).  Boards should include:
    • Title Your Bulletin Board (or Board Section).  Make sure your bulletin board has a title so that viewers know what your board is about and to which class(es) and teacher(s) the board belongs.
    • Images and/or samples of Student Work(ing).  Hallway bulletin boards should draw viewers in.  Creative use of Images or other visual work (e.g. displays that highlight student achievement) are highly encouraged.  As you highlight student work (e.g. work from last year if you have it or a model response that you created to illustrate expectations), step into the shoes of the viewer.  Ask yourself
      • Is it clear why this work is being featured?  What concepts are being highlighted and why?  How does this board illustrate rigorous course expectations?


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Week of 03AUG19

UAI Staff News

Volume VII
Issue 1
August 3rd, 2019
(180 instructional days remaining)


It's August Already and Summer School is Almost Done.  It seems like it was literally last week that we were saying graduating the class of 2019 and saying goodbye to one another.  Hopefully, you have all had a chance to relax somewhat and I hope that you still have amazing plans for the month that remains.

At UAI, we wrapped up credit recovery and mandated middle school last week, and we are ready to launch summer school Regents Prep on Monday.  Big applause for Kelly!!  She took on summer school coordination for the first time, and has done an amazing job in organizing and facilitating summer processes and summer learning.  Kelly, with Joanna's support, will also be running Regents Prep and Regents Exam week, so if students reach out to you, please direct them to her.  hank you so much Kelly and nicely done!

Summer Reflection.  This year, the DOE has completely revamped the Comprehensive Education Plan (CEP) process that is the tool we use to set and plan school goals.  For the last several years, our instructional focus has been explicitly around improving the quality of instruction in the classrooms and strengthening our school culture.  We have made significant strides in both, and we still have a ways to go.  When we are together again in September, I will share more information and specific details, but for now, I will give you the broad strokes.

The quality of instruction and rigor of instructional tasks dictates how well students perform on state exams and in our courses.  In order for students to perform well and achieve, our students and their families rely on us to create high-quality learning experiences that motivate and challenge our students to learn and grow.  We will continue to work on developing the quality of our instruction through our Artisan Teaching Teams in both middle and high school, external PD opportunities and support through New Visions, CUNY LINCT, MSQI, AP for All, and Algebra for All.

In addition to improving teacher capacity, we are also introducing intervention groups for our students who struggle the most in reading and math.  We also heard student and teacher request (via the surveys and consultation committee) and we are introducing elective classes for grades 6-9 next year.  Our students will also continue to receive Girls Inc Opportunities both during the day and after school and we will continue to provide them with strong in-school experiences aimed at cultivating their Social Emotional Growth.

Instructional Quality and School Culture will continue to be our major areas of focus, however this year, with changes in the CEP, we will have additional metrics attached to them. For UAI, because we are a 6-12 school we have mandated goals for both MS and HS.  They are:

  • NYS Middle School Math & ELA Performance.   We are still waiting for state results, so I can't share concrete figures yet, but the goal is to improve the number of students scoring at proficiency in both Math & ELA by at least 10%. 
  • HS Graduation Rate.  Our current HS rate is 82% with an expected final rate of 87% by the end of August.  Next year's Class of 2020 is significantly stronger - both academically and social emotionally - and as a result, we are predicting a final graduation rate of 92%
  • College, Career, and Civic Readiness.  This is a hard one to explain digitally.  In this goal there are two metrics involved - the state guidelines (which calculate the number of AP classes kids take, the type of diploma that is earned, and several other metrics) and the city is looking at the number of students scoring college-ready scores in Math and ELA (>70 in math and >75 in ELA).  On the stateside, we always do exceedingly well because so many of our students take advanced coursework (in AP or through NYU).  So the goal is to continue that success by adding more AP experiences (AP Lit, AP World History) and broadening access.  On the city side, we have already succeeded last year's College-Ready percent (which was 49%, CO 2019 is already at 57%).  So, we are going to enhance the goal, and setting goals around getting more of our students in 4-year college settings.  
  • Attendance. For the first time ever in the history of UAI, our student attendance has been so low that we missed state benchmarks, and are a level 1 (which is the lowest level) for attendance rate.  Overall, our attendance average is 87%, but our students who are chronically absent are 14% in the MS and 31% in the HS.  These numbers need to change.  Annie is putting together a committee of teachers to lead this work and we will be rolling out the plan when we come together in September. 
Following our progress in all these areas will be tricky, but we have two very strong guide rails to lead us on our way. 
  1. When we plan and effectively execute lessons that get kids thinking and give them access to throught-provoking and intellectually challenging materials, our students want to learn.  They will show that with their feet (increased attendance) and their engagement paired with our instruction will result in higher exam scores, higher course grades, and thus increased graduation and college, career, and civic readiness.
  2. Strong instruction requires an equally strong learning environment.  Students need to feel known (teachers know their work, know what they need to grow and know who they are), feel safe (students take intellectual risks without fear because teachers & staff create & maintain safe classroom & school spaces), and students feel supported and included in our classrooms, our texts, and our community.

Implicit Bias Work.  This year to support our work in instruction and school culture, we will be continuing our work around Implicit Bias.  Please email Kiri directly if you would like to join the PD committee to plan these sessions or if you want to learn more!

To Do

Building Access.  The building still has summer school in session with various schools in our classrooms.  This will be the case through Regents Week. The building is closed the week of August 19th, but starting Augst 26th, you are welcome to come in and begin room set up anytime.

UAI PD Days.  We will be offering training rate per session for teachers from 8:30-12:30 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (Aug27-29) to come in and begin room set up.  We will be offering teachers new to UAI a new teacher orientation on Aug 27 at 10AM which will introduce new teachers to school-specific systems and procedures (taking attendance, using Skedula, email groups, tech support, UAI teacher forms and DOE forms).  All returning teachers are welcome to join, too.

Staff PD Launch.  We will have our full staff PD launch on Tuesday, 03SEP19 at 8:30.  It will be a full day of PD on both days, agendas to follow soon!

Orders.  If you did not get a confirmation from Nancy, then your orders were not processed because they were not filed correctly.  In order to have ordered processed, you need to go to and fully checkout.  Once you have fully checked out, your order is sent to FAMIS and Nancy can then process it.  Nancy will be in the office on August 15th to process orders next.  Please get anything to her by that date, or you'll have to wait until October.  September is too pressed with enrollment issues to guarantee purchasing.

Planning Documents.  I am still working on updating the planning templates for the year.  Those should be coming out this week!  These include a pacing calendar, lesson template, and [NEW] Course Syllabus and Grading Policy (that will be distributed to parents on curriculum night).

Staff Bios.  Finally, send me a new headshot and updated bio to include in this year's staff directory before the 20AUGust and it will be included in the next blog post