September 15, 2016
Dear P.S. 321 Families,
Welcome to a new school year! Walking into classrooms these past few days, it has been so satisfying to see how engaged your children are! They are doing wonderful work under the direction of a truly outstanding teaching staff. I want to tell you about some new initiatives this year and also introduce you to some of the staff beyond the classroom whom you may have contact with this year.
PS 321 has always been committed to educating the whole child and addressing social emotional learning as well as academic learning. And, we are deeply committed to making sure that all of our students feel supported and safe at school. We believe strongly that a great deal of our success as a school comes from our dual commitment to a rigorous, developmentally appropriate academic program where children learn to think creatively and analytically as well as to meeting the social emotional needs of our students. 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, as well as many opportunities to learn how to work collaboratively and respectfully. This year we are a “No Place for Hate” school. This is an initiative of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Schools that participate commit to “combat prejudice and enhance a culture of respect in their school and community.” Some of you have already signed the pledge that parents, students and teachers sign as part of this program. If you haven’t received it yet, it will be coming home soon.
We’ve also made some changes in our lunch/recess program. With funding from our wonderful PTA (all of you), we have contracted with Kids in the Game, an organization that sends recess coaches to lead fun, inclusive games during recess. We have two recess coaches here during first and second grade lunch recess, and three for the third, fourth and fifth grade lunch recess. It is up to children whether they participate in these games or do something else, but we think it will be a great addition to our daily recess. We’ve been very excited about how the program is going so far. In addition, this year we are a “Zero Waste Initiative School,” which builds on our commitment to reusing and recycling.
I encourage you to attend our first PTA meeting, which is Tuesday, September 20 at 6:30pm. I will talk about these new initiatives as well as other things we are doing in school. You will also have a chance to learn about a lot of volunteer options.
As far as out-of-classroom personnel you may have contact with, Deb Orr is our parent coordinator, and you can find her office across from the main office near the lobby. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and her phone number is 718-499-2412 x 1230. We have three assistant principals: Dana Rappaport (email@example.com) is in charge of kindergarten, 3rd 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 Ben Halioua (Bhalioua@ps321.info ).
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.
And, check out our PS 321 website (www.ps321.org), which has a tremendous amount of information as well as a school calendar. If you haven’t already done so, 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. I also encourage you to go to our Math Website at www.ps321math.com.
Because of our many accomplishments, this is our third year to be selected as a “Host School” in a DOE initiative called “Learning Partners.” This program is about sharing best practices across schools. For the second year, we are host to multiple schools—the 7 we worked with last year from Districts 13, 15, and 23, and one additional school in Far Rockaway. Our partner schools are PS 118 (The Maurice Sendak School), PS 516 ( the Sunset Park Avenues Community School), PS 9, PS 282, Arts and Letters, PS 106, Riverdale Avenue Community School and Riverdale Avenue Middle School. We are very excited about this continuing collaboration across diverse schools.
Just a few important reminders to help us have a joyful and safe school year:
- 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 8:32 for Kindergarten. Please also make sure you pick up your child on time at 2:50 (2:45 for Kindergarten). There is no ball playing in the yard after school until 3:05.
- 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 or balls from home at school or any electronics. That includes trading cards, e-readers, and electronic games. Students may not bring scooters or skateboards into the school. Smart watches are also not permitted. Children may keep cell phones turned off in backpacks, but they can never use cell phones in school, including at lunch time when they are in the lunchroom, the yard or out to lunch.
- Children may never climb the fences in the back or front of the school—including after school. This is an important safety issue.
- If your child has a serious medical issue such as a severe allergy, please contact our school nurse, Kathleen Millberger 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 email@example.com.
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. I hope you will join us for Curriculum Conferences (grades 3-5, Tues., 9/27; grades K-2—Wed., 9/28. Cluster/specialty teachers will be available from 5-5:55; classroom teachers will meet with you from 6:00-7:30. We have lots of other upcoming events, including our “Welcome Back Pot Luck Dinner” on Friday, September 23, in the back yard from 4:30-7:30. Our first FAMILY FRIDAY is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, FROM 8:30-9:10AM. Save the date! You’ll be getting a letter with more details about this.
Thank you for being a community that is dedicated to working collaboratively with staff to make sure that all children can succeed and have a joyful learning environment. I’m looking forward to another great year together!
Liz Phillips, Principal