Dear P.S. 321 Families,
Welcome to a new school year! Walking into classrooms this past week, it has been thrilling to see how engaged your children are! They are doing wonderful work under the direction of a truly outstanding teaching staff.
Our Parent Coordinator of 11 years, Marge Keiser, has taken a position as a prekindergarten social worker. We are absolutely thrilled for her, although we are going to miss her a lot. I am so pleased to be able to introduce our new Parent Coordinator, Deb Orr. Deb is a former PS 321 parent. Her son is now in in high school and her daughter in middle school. She has a deep understanding of and respect for our community. When Deb was a parent here, she was an active member of the PTA and the Fundraising Committee and wrote many grant proposals. Deb’s previous work experience was as a publicist and copy writer for several different nonprofit organizations. You can find Deb in the Parent Center near the lobby. Her email is email@example.com and her phone number is 718-499-2412 x 1230.
I also want to introduce you to our three assistant principals. Dana Rappaport (firstname.lastname@example.org) is in charge of Kindergarten, Third Grade, and Special Education K-5. Beth Handman (Bethhandman321@gmail.com) is in charge of grades 1 and 2 and Reading, Writing, and Social Studies K-5. Sara Despres (email@example.com) is in charge of grades 4 and 5 and math, science, and technology K-5. Our two guidance counselors are Carlina Ramos (CRamos4@schools.nyc.gov) and Heather Hoover Whitney (HHoover2@schools.nyc.gov ).
On September 22 (grades 3-5) and September 23 (grades 1-2), we will be holding CURRICULUM CONFERENCES. From 5-6 pm you will be able to meet informally with the cluster/specialty and intervention teachers. From 6-7:30pm classroom teachers will meet with you in their classrooms. I will be sending a separate letter with more information. We will provide child care for school age children for those who need it from 6-7:30pm. These are invaluable meetings, and I encourage you to attend.
If you have questions about your child’s experience in school, your first contact should generally be the classroom teacher. She or he will let you know the best ways of communicating. Do remember that teachers have limited access to e-mail throughout the day since they are busy teaching. If you have questions that are not related to the classroom or you need to talk to someone else, please contact our Parent Coordinator (see above). You can also reach out to the assistant principals or the guidance counselors at the above emails.
I encourage you to attend our first PTA meeting on Thursday, September 18, at 6:30pm. You’ll get information about this school year from me and the PTA, and you will also have an opportunity to find out about a wide variety of volunteer options. The newly designed PS 321 website (www.ps321.org) has a tremendous amount of information as well as a school calendar. And, if you haven’t already done so, you should definitely sign up for the “Tuesday Bulletin,” an e-mail bulletin that gets sent to you weekly and keeps you well informed about upcoming events. Go to www.ps321.org to sign up.
As many of you know, P.S. 321 is a school that is deeply committed to paying attention to the whole child. We have a rigorous, developmentally appropriate academic program where children learn to think creatively and analytically. We differentiate instruction based on assessment, and we guide children to become active, independent learners. We recognize that children learn in a variety of ways, and we provide them with diverse kinds of experiences in literacy, math, science, social studies, physical education, and the arts. Our teachers work exceptionally hard and collaboratively to develop and implement a wonderful, engaging curriculum. We are proud of our accomplishments and of the fact that we have used the Common Core Standards to enrich our curriculum rather than to narrow it. We want children to be happy here, to have a joyful experience at school. Because of our accomplishments, we have been selected to be a “Host School” in a new DOE initiative called “Learning Partners.” The idea of this program is to share best practices among schools, and we are very pleased to be partnering with PS 9 in Prospect Heights and PS 159 in Bayside, Queens. Teachers and administrators from each of those schools will visit us 6 times this year, and we’ll send a team of teachers to visit their school 3 times. It should be a very exciting collaboration!
In our school mission statement we say, “Our high academic standards go hand in hand with high standards of cooperative, humane, interactions.” Under the umbrella of our “Respect Initiative,” we are working hard to make this statement a reality for all children and adults in the school. Teachers focus on building community in the classroom and setting up structures and routines that will make for a peaceful and productive school year. Last year we instituted new procedures to improve recess, and we encourage parents who are available to volunteer at lunch and/or recess. Our Mighty Milers program for 2nd to 5th graders has been a wonderful addition to recess. Our staff and our Parent Diversity Committee work on developing curriculum and parent events that foster respect for all. Our Green and Healthy Initiative, a joint venture of parents and staff, encourages children and families to learn about ways in which they can have a positive impact on their own health and on the health of the environment.
Just a few important reminders to help us have a joyful and safe school year:
- PLEASE REMEMBER THAT OUR SCHOOL HOURS HAVE CHANGED. SCHOOL BEGINS AT 8:30 AND ENDS AT 2:50. Please make sure your child gets to school on time! Backyard lineup for grades 3-5 and minischool classes is at 8:25. Doors open at 8:28AM for grades 1-2 in the front and at 8:35 for Kindergarten. Please also make sure you pick up your child on time at 2:50.
- For the safety of all of our children, you must have an appointment to go into a classroom (unless you are a parent of a kindergarten student bringing the child to school or picking her up). Although we highly value parent involvement, we need to make sure instruction is not interrupted by parents walking into the room throughout the day. If you have a true emergency, please see a guidance counselor or an administrator. All school visitors must wear passes that they get at the front security desk.
- We do not allow toys from home at school. That includes trading cards and electronic toys. And, students may not bring scooters or skateboards into the school. Children may never use cell phones in school, including at lunch time when they are in the yard or out to lunch.
- If your child has a serious medical issue such as a severe allergy, please contact our school nurse in Room 123 or 718-369-9083. It is essential that we have 504 medical forms for children who have asthma, or require any kind of medication during the school day, even on an occasional basis. Teachers are not permitted to dispense medication. Please let us know if your child has lice or any contagious disease (chicken pox, fifth disease etc.). In addition, in a case where a child breaks an arm or leg and is in a cast, we need to have a 504 form that indicates what modifications are necessary during the period the child is in a cast. For information on these emergency 504s contact Dana Rappaport at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will be getting lots of information home over the next few weeks and throughout the year, and I want to encourage you to look in your child’s RED HOMEWORK FOLDER nightly for announcements from me, the PTA, and your child’s teacher. I hope you will join us for our “Welcome Back Pot Luck Dinner” on Friday, September 19, in the back yard from 4:30-7:30.
Our first FAMILY FRIDAY is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, FROM 8:40-9:20AM. Save the date! You’ll be getting a letter with more details.
Thank you for being a community that is dedicated to working collaboratively with staff to make this such a wonderful school. I’m looking forward to another great year together!
Liz Phillips, Principal