School Wide Morning Meeting Message 11/14/2016

Dear EVCS students,

I hope you had a wonderful and restorative three-day weekend with your families!

At the last two School-Wide Morning Meetings I talked to you about our first Core Value: Kindness.  Kind people show concern for others, for our school, and for the environment.  Kind people have empathy and try to understand or share other people’s feelings.  Every single person in our school community has the capacity and ability to be kind!  Today I want to introduce you to our next core value:

Our core value is Social Action.

Social action involves identifying things that are wrong in our world and then taking steps to make them better.

Sometimes the problems of the world seem so big that it’s hard to imagine how we can make a difference.  But we can think about ways to make an impact here in our own community.  For example, there are people right here in our neighborhood who don’t have enough food to eat.  We can help those neighbors by collecting cans and boxes of food for the annual Harvest Festival.  This is a form of social action!  We’ll all march down to the soup kitchen next week and deliver the food we’ve collected.  When you go into the soup kitchen, please say a big “Thank you!” to the kind women and men who work there.  They are also doing a kind of social action by preparing the donated food for our hungry neighbors.

There are so many other ways to help make the world a kinder and better place through social action, and you will explore some of those ways with your classmates this year.

In the words of Margaret Mead,  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Don’t underestimate your ability to be make a positive change in the world!  We’re counting on you!




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Dear EVCS Family,

Politics aside, I want to acknowledge the heightened level of melancholy and anxiety within our school community, especially among our students (but also among our parents). The tone in the schoolyard this morning as families arrived was uncharacteristically somber! This has been a brutal election cycle and our nation clearly needs some healing. I want to share with you that in the midst of my own personal journey over the last many months, culminating late in the wee hours of this morning, I have taken tremendous solace in the fact that my family and I are a part of something truly great and wonderful in this school community. Regardless of the turmoil all around us, the kids and adults at EVCS will continue to teach, learn and practice kindness, inclusion, and generosity. I comforted more than a few students today by reminding them of how lucky we are to live in the greatest city in the world, and to go to a school we love where we are safe and part of a community that takes care of each other.

One parent asked me today if we could schedule an “emergency School-Wide Morning Meeting”! Regardless of how your family may have voted, I think we could have all benefited from some Kumbaya this morning. Hang in there – this coming Monday we will gather in the auditorium to sing loud and proud together. I hope you’ll be there to sit with your kids and lend your voice. Definitely on the sing along agenda: This Land is Your Land and We Shall Overcome!

Another thing we can do to lift our collective spirits and empower our children as agents of change for good in their world is to collect more cans than ever before for our annual Harvest Festival food drive. Our school’s mission statement refers to the importance of community building, social responsibility and contributing towards positive social change. Directly helping others in our community who are in need is a wonderful way to foster these values of kindness and community. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

As ever,


Diversity in Admissions

Dear EVCS Family,

I am pleased to announce that our school has been accepted into the Chancellor’s Diversity in Admissions pilot program. In next year’s admissions cycle, priority will be given to students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch or students who are learning English for 50% of our Pre-K and Kindergarten seats. Students who attend EVCS for Pre-K will still be given priority for K seats, and sibling status will continue to be honored as a top admissions priority.

If you came to School-Wide Morning Meeting a couple of weeks ago you heard me talk about one of our core values: kindness. Another principle that is essential in our school culture and central to all we do, is inclusion. Our mission statement reads: “It is our priority to provide an environment where all children and all families are valued, welcomed, cared for and supported.” Yet over the last several years our school has become significantly less diverse. There is a growing trend in District 1, which has used a system of “pure choice” in the admissions protocol, of clustering according to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Our demographics at EVCS have become increasingly dissimilar to other District 1 schools and the neighborhood we serve, and many in our community have become uncomfortable with this. I am hopeful that the Diversity in Admissions pilot program will represent a significant step in the right direction to correct this trend. We’ll be joined in this pilot by our District 1 friends the Children’s Workshop School, the Earth School and the Neighborhood School. You can read a bit more about the pilot program in today’sNYTimes and Chalkbeat.

I’m looking forward to working shoulder to shoulder with our amazing school community to usher in this exciting and important initiative.

As ever,


Schoolyard Renovation

Dear Parents,

We are thrilled to announce that due to generous grants from Council Member Rosie Mendez, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and the The Trust for Public Land, the shared schoolyard at 610 East 12th Street will be getting a renovation. The Trust for Public Land’s NYC Playgrounds Program staff will begin working with the three schools and community members this fall to design a new school and community playground on the schoolyard.

Established in 1972, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a nonprofit organization that is committed to bringing open space and recreational resources to communities under-served by parks. TPL’s NYC Playgrounds Program has designed and/or created nearly 190 new playgrounds in NYC over the past 20 years. One of the unique features of TPL’s Playgrounds Program is that students, parents and community members design the new park.

TPL gave an introduction to the project in the school auditorium this morning and kids are pretty excited! TPL will then be leading design sessions with a design team made up of school representatives, students, parents, and community members on four Wednesday mornings in October and November: October 19, 26, November 9 and November 23. The meetings will begin at 9am in the library and usually run for about two hours.

We are very excited about this project that will benefit hundreds of children and their families in our community. More information, including updates from the design team, soon.



Coffee Talk with Bradley – Safety and Emergency Preparedness

I hope to see you at our first ever Coffee Talk with Bradley tomorrow morning where the topic for discussion will be Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The forecast calls for sun and unseasonably warm temperatures, so we’ll meet in the Tree of Knowing Garden right after drop off.

If you’re looking for some reading material to fertilize the conversation, here’s an article from The Atlantic, one from The Times, and one from The Washington Post.

Or just show up! There will be coffee. We’ll talk.


School Wide Morning Meeting Message 9/26/16

Dear EVCS students,

Welcome to the first School-wide Morning Meeting of the year!  For our new students and families – School-wide Morning Meeting is one of our favorite traditions at EVCS.  Every other Monday morning our whole school community gets together to sing songs, share things we’ve been working on in music class, and think about what is most essential in our learning.

This year, in addition to exploring the Habits of Mind together, we will be thinking about our Core Values as a school.  What are the things we care about the most at our school?  What is universal at EVCS, regardless of what grade you are in?  What do we stand for?

We will be working on developing a short list of our core values this year, but I want to start us off with the first one:

Our Core Value is kindness.

Continue reading

Safety at EVCS

Dear EVCS family,

In light of recent, scary events here in our great city I thought it is a good time to review our building-wide procedures for emergency preparedness. None of us likes to ponder the unimaginable scenarios where we would have to execute these procedures outside of a drill, but we all recognize the importance of knowing what to do, and being able to do it quickly and safely.  Continue reading

Here we go!

Dear EVCS Family,

It’s that bittersweet time of year. Summer is rolling to a close and school is just right around the corner. Depending on who you ask it may be more bitter than sweet, but one thing is for sure – we’re all getting very psyched here at EVCS to welcome in the new school year!

There are so many things I am looking forward to this year. Our mission to provide opportunities for our kids to experience wonderment and awe every single day takes a big leap forward this year with expanded and new partnerships, residencies and enrichment programs. We are deepening our partnership with the South Street Seaport Museum, including in-school residencies for urban archaeology (2nd grade), print-making (3rd grade) and sea shanties (5th grade), as well as walking tours and amazing sailing trips through New York Harbor aboard a 19th Century schooner. We are continuing our weekly chess instruction for 2nd and 3rd graders with the great Coach Stephanie Ballom. We have a brand new STEM program for our 2nd-5th graders that includes an introduction to computer programming as well as robotics. We will have a range of special dance programs for all of our students that will include residencies in hip hop, ballet, African dance and ballroom dancing. We are continuing our very popular electives program for 4th and 5th graders with options for rock band, choir, chess, STEM and 3-D art. We’ve planned so many amazing field trips for our students, including overnight trips for 4th and 5th graders, as well as gardening for K and 1st grade with Ruth, environmental science with Solar 1, DreamYard Project, STAR… and there’s so much more to inspire and ignite curiosity.  Continue reading

EVCS Diversity Survey

Dear EVCS families,

Two reminders: If you haven’t already, please take our SLT survey on diversity. It’ll only take a few minutes and will really help us assess our work and plan forward. We are asking for just one survey per household, so if someone from your household has already taken the survey you’re off the hook.

Also, if you’re available/interested please join me tomorrow morning to chat about joining the Chancellor’s diversity in admissions pilot program. Please note we are changing the venue and will meet in the art room, 413. Coffee will be served!



EVCS SLT Diversity Updates

Dear EVCS Families,

Hold on to your hats – June is a whirlwind. Sometimes people refer to the school year “winding down” but the truth is it feels like we wind up all spring, especially in June, and hurtle towards the last day with a head of steam. Suffice it to say, it’s a busy time! But it’s very important that we take the time at the end of the year to reflect on our work and experiences.

One of the most resonant themes explored this year, not only within our own school community but throughout District 1 and the city as a whole, has been diversity. EVCS is a truly diverse community in many senses, but our demographics are quite dissimilar to the District averages. Unfortunately there is a trend in our district, which uses a system of “pure choice” in the admissions protocol, of clustering according to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. For some powerful infographics that help illustrate this clustering take a look here. Continue reading