June 25, 2021
Dear PS 321 Families,
We made it! What a remarkable year in so many ways. I am so appreciative of all the support that families have given—to your children and to the school—during this unprecedented time. I know that two years ago none of us could have imagined that school would look like it did this year. It has been so lovely to see so many of you at the 2nd Street gate at arrival and dismissal, and I thank you for all your kind words about the school.
It is wonderful to see that most of our children have really thrived this year. They have been flexible and resilient in ways that we never imagined they would have to be. And of course, the same is true of our amazing teachers and staff members.
We all know about the challenges of this year, and so our staff decided to spend some time this past month reflecting on some of the “silver linings.” And there are many. One is that we’ve had to really consider what is most important for children to learn in the different subject areas and to focus the reduced amount of time we had with children on that. Every grade of teachers commented how effective this was. Most of our children are at about the same point in their academic learning that they were in previous years in the same grade. In reading in particular we see how our children have made quite remarkable progress. There are some gaps but many fewer than we had feared.
One of the benefits of getting to the heart of what is most important in different subject areas is that it allowed us to spend more time developing relationships, building community in the classroom, and playing together. We’ve always valued social emotional learning and joy in the classroom, but it was more important this year than ever, and it is something we will hold onto moving forward. We’re excited to be scheduling a daily outside time next year (in addition to lunch recess) for all our grades with more structured supervised play.
Although some families are looking forward to a summer without screens, others have asked if we could continue some of the online programs we’ve used this year for children who wanted to practice over the summer. We’re pleased to report that Zearn will be available over the summer—you can log on in the same way you did during the school year. In addition, Google Classrooms will be available, although the stream will be deactivated. EPIC books continue to be available to families as they have been throughout the year.
WE DO ASK THAT YOU RETURN ANY DOE OR PS 321 LAPTOPS, IPADS, OR CHROMEBOOKS. (Note that families with IEP based adaptive technology received other instructions from Liz McCormack that you should follow.) You can drop them at school with this FORM completed. If you can’t print out the form, you can just write your child’s name and class/teacher on a piece of paper and return it with the device. You can drop these off today or on Monday, 6/28 or Tuesday, 6/29 between 7:30-3:00. If you are out of time and need to return the device at another time, please email Deb Orr at email@example.com.
Some important dates and times for next year:
- School hours for K-2: 8:40-3:00
- School hours for 3-5: 8:30-2:50
- First day of school for students: Monday, 9/13
- No school on Thursday, 9/16—Yom Kippur
- Early Bird program (for a fee, but scholarships available): Begins Monday, 9/20. Hours are 7:30-8:40.
Parents of children in grades K-4: please make sure you sign up for Operoo as we will be sending class assignments through Operoo in August. I will also be sending any updates we receive on the new school year through Operoo. If you have questions about Operoo, Deb Orr will be addressing them next week and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kindergarten end-of-year reports (narratives) will be emailed to families. For grades 1-5, the STARS report card will be viewable in your NYCSA account. The final grades will be available to families as of Monday, June 28. As we had explained in November and March, this year we are using a two point grading system, with a 2 indicating that a student has not yet met the grade level standard and a 3 indicating that a student has met or exceeded the grade level standard. A 3 is the highest grade a child can receive.
This morning our PTA sent you a link to a special online musical treat—a huge thank you to our staff band for this! We will also be putting the link on the Google Classrooms and you can also go to it here: https://vimeo.com/567159345.
We have such a wonderful community at PS 321. Our teachers and staff are incredibly hard working, creative, kind, and caring. Our families are such wonderful partners with us. And, of course, our children are truly amazing. In times like these, having such a close and caring community means the world. Thank you so much for all that you have done to make this a very special and successful school year. Looking forward to a great year next year and wishing you all a wonderful summer.
Liz Phillips, Principal