Sunday, December 5, 2021

Week of December 6th

 UAI Staff News

Volume IX
Issue 15
December 6th, 2021

Principal Message

Call to Action.  Our community is strong.

This past week, our campus community has been continually tested.  An individual young man, as a result of a combination of systemic failures and bad choices, found himself making a profoundly wrong and dangerous decision that impacted himself, his family, and our community.

Instead of focusing on the individual, like they did with the boy who actually killed people in Michigan, the machinery of the press chose to malign our entire community - all glitzy headlines aimed at increasing sales.  In the heavy pursuit of these eyes, sales, and attention - the press has reaped incredible damage upon our community.

The scanning process alone is a stress on students who feel that they are being treated like criminals.  Now the press solidifies those fears by labelling our schools as violent and filled with dangerous weapons.  The reporting on these issues is shoddy and inflammatory, and truly aimed at using our campus as a pawn to push their agendas on a myriad of underlying political aims - all chiefly aimed at undermining the DOE at large or any hated De Blasio policy of the moment.

BUT - we are not pawns.  We are a strong and vibrant community.

  • Our students are our pride and joy.  They are a mosaic of interests, talents, and endless possibilities.  They each shine with countless points of brilliance and passion.  They are loved, valued, and celebrated. 

  • Our families are our chief partners.  They give us their most precious people each day and entrust us to provide them a rich array of learning experiences both in and out of the classroom.  With our parents, we build programs and school communities aimed at nurturing their children to adulthood.

  • Our teachers, counselors, deans, and support staff are the heart and soul of our schools.  They are the passion and creative intellects that make the vision and mission of each of our schools.  Their commitment to our students and their families and their high standards of excellence are what breathes new learnings, hope, and opportunities into the development and futures of our young people.

Today, the machinery of the press once again attempts to paint a picture of violence and crime on the faces of our black and brown children.  Repeatedly, they aim for shock and awe by using language like “weapons” or “unprecedented”.  When a young white boy in Michigan actually kills people, he is an individual.  When the staff of a Brooklyn school does the exact right thing and prevents an individual from harming himself or anyone else in the building with a gun, it is dubbed the “School of Glock”.

The stories continue to malign, and they are progressively impacting the health and wellbeing of our students.  Yesterday, two men from CBS news stalked our students at entry, lunch, and dismissal.  One student broke down into tears at the front door when she saw the man she felt was responsible for the article naming her school as recovering a “cache of 21 weapons”. 

It is time to change the narrative for our kids.  What they are seeing in scanning, in the news, or on social media is not their reality.  They are scared, and are quickly becoming scarred by being labeled as perpetrators of violence when they are carrying pepper spray or tiny stunners to protect themselves when traveling to and from school.    

We need to show them that they are not alone.  They are part of a larger community that extends beyond the walls of our building.  They are part of a network of schools, communities, and families that are all there to root for them and support them in their time of need.

On their behalf, I’m calling on your help.

On Monday, they will be coming back to school after another weekend barrage of news articles casting negativity on their schools.  Every kid deserves to be at a school they love.  We need your help to show them that they are loved and that their schools are still the places they love too.

From 8AM-9:30AM we have morning entry for our campus.  We are asking UA school leaders & staff, community partners, families, and Adams Street Campus school staff to show our 1100 children that they are beautiful, powerful, and loved. 

For however long you can, please come to cheer and warmly welcome our kids to their schools.  We’re looking to make this a celebration and to show everyone the true story of our magic - our kids, our work, and our schools.

Important dates this month.  

  • 06DEC21:  Monthly Full Staff PD - Meet in the Library
  • 07DEC21:  Monthly Grade Team Meetings
  • 10DEC21:  Holiday Happy Hour at 3PM
  • 20DEC21:  Staff Circles - Remote at 4PM
  • 23DEC21: Rapid Dismissal at 1:45PM for All Students (Same Staggered Dismissal)
  • 24DEC21 - 02JAN22:  Winter Recess - NO SCHOOL

Committee Updates

Equity Team.  This past week the Equity Team met to review classroom removal and suspension data from the 2018-2019 school year to identify disproportionately. Please review the meeting minutes.

Circles Committee.  Our next circle will be via zoom at 4PM on Monday, 20DEC21.

Consultation Committee.  No Updates this Week.  Please review the consultation committee notes from the last meeting on Thursday, 18NOV21.  The next meeting is scheduled for 12JAN21.  The agenda will be shared out in the Sunday blog on 09JAN21.  Damon will be facilitating, so please do share agenda items with him!


Monday Staff Meeting.  On Monday, we'll be pulling the regularly planned PD to have a full staff meeting so that we can discuss the status and next steps of the campus safety situation.

Morning Welcome & Cheer.  On Monday morning, we are working with our partners & community members to show our students how strong their schools are and how far their network extends to support and love them.  If you are able to join, please do from 8-9:30AM.  If you cannot join outside during morning entry, you can still be part of the action.  Stand at your doors and warmly welcome students into the classroom for each period on Monday.  Now more than ever, they need to feel seen as individuals and people vs. the stereotypes the media and school safety officials are trying to affix to them.

Advisory This Week.  This week, please make it a priority to support students using circles and other activities to help them process the events of last week and the stress of scanning.   Please feel free to use our UAI and SLJ students' own response to the NY Post!  Some key points to cover this week
  • Listen to and validate students feelings about what they've experienced & their concerns

    • Safety - Validate student feelings about their safety traveling to and from school - but be firm and clear that no stunners or pepper sprays are allowed in the school building ever.  This also goes for knives - even the tiny ones (like swiss army knives or pen knives).

    • Press Coverage- As adults, we have learned to be critical and analytical of press reporting.  They are still learning how to do that.  So, when they see headlines like "School of Glock" many - particularly younger students - we have not yet had the chance to fully instill the skill sets needed to differentiate sensationalism from reality.  

    • Student Voice - Their voice matters.  Please make time to have your advisories raise up their concerns to their PAG representatives.  I'll be holding all PAG meetings this week during Learning Labs
      • Tuesday, 07DEC - 11th/12th Grade PAG (1st Period)
      • Wednesday, 08DEC - 8th/9th Grade PAG (3rd Period)
      • Wednesday 08DEC - 6/7th Grade PAG (4th Period)
      • Thursday, 09DEC - 8th Grade PAG (3rd Period)

Coding Update.  Jennifer finished updating the codes for the ELA & PE/Dance classes.  I was supposed to do the Math & Science codes, but events of this week didn't let that happen.  I will aim to finish them by the end of Monday - apologies for the delay.  Hold off on grade uploads until the end of Monday - Thank you!


To Do This Week

This is the stuff that requires your attention AND it's stuff you need to do!

Fluency Work in Learning Labs.  If students say they have nothing to work on during learning lab, direct them to work on ELA and Math Fluency Assignments - posted on Google Classrooms and in this DOC
    • If they finish All of their work, students can always read or journal!  Please have paper or direct to news articles online available for students.
    • If students need help - have them use email or G-chat to get help. Learning Labs are to be silent work time for all during MP2.  Please do not make an exception in your own learning lab.  It makes everyone else's learning lab 10 times harder than it needs to be.
Hallway Presence. This week, administrative & counseling support staff will once again be pulled into managing ongoing campus logistics as we continue to work through this latest safety event.  Please be present and in the halls to help keep them clear and to check in with any students to provide them connection and stability throughout this week.

Per Session Postings

  • Club Teachers.  If you are interested in running a club during Lunch, Learning Lab or After School, please email Kiri and complete the Per Session Interest Form.  For Lunch/Learning Lab clubs, you will be paid a prep period coverage.  In-day clubs must be during your prep time for a prep-period coverage.  After school clubs can meet as often as you'd like.  Clubs must have at least 8 students to be viable.  Teachers will submit student attendance along with per session sheets.  <Posting Remains Open for more clubs>
    • Applied:  Kristina (Book Club), Tom (photography club), Jenetta (Astrology Club)
    • Staffed:  Kristina (Book Club), Tom (photography club), Jenetta (Astrology Club)

  • SERS Teachers.  We're looking for teachers to work with our Special Education Students after school to do tutoring and intervention work with a group no larger than 8 kids. If interested, please email Kiri and complete the Per Session Interest FormHours are flexible (as many as you are willing to offer.  Both Gen Ed and Special Ed licensed teachers (and paras) are all eligible to apply. <Posting Remains Open>
    • Applied:  Jenetta, Olympia, Claire
    • Staffed:  Jenetta, Olympia, Claire

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