This week, Town & Village intern and School of the Future High School student Kristy Ye-Ling asked her classmates and friends which African-American historical figure they admire most. February is Black History Month.
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
One fourth grade class at the United Nations International School is learning how to give back to the community through crafting. Humanities teachers Áine Feeney and Idoya Tapia helped their students put together a project to leave handmade scarves along the East River Promenade during a cold spell last December for people in need to pick up and use.
The project, first noted by local blog EV Grieve last month, made its debut along the East River on December 15 and Feeney said that when they went back to check on the bags about a week later, all of the scarves were gone.
“It’s possible that someone who didn’t really need it took one of the scarves, but we were also trying to teach the kids that it’s worth that risk,” Feeney said.
By Sabina Mollot
Sara Curry Preschool at Little Missionary’s Day Nursery, a tuition-based but despite the name non-religious pre-school on St. Marks Place, is expanding for the second time in three years, this time to offer kindergarten and elementary school grades.
Eileen Johnson, the school’s director, said she’d been hearing from too many parents of her former students that they’re unhappy with public elementary schools, even so-called progressive ones. But with her preschool’s five-story building already at capacity, Johnson had to forget about adding classes for kids who age out of the program — that is, until now.
“When you have to say no to people all the time, then it’s like, ‘I really want to do this,’” she said.
For the next few years, Johnson plans to phase in additional grades up to grade 5. Next fall, there will be kindergarten and first grade, the following year second grade and the next year third. She’s considering dividing one of the school’s larger classrooms and plans to further utilize the basement (now used just for after school programming and art) to make this work. But after that, Sara Curry Preschool will need to get an additional small building.
“The goal is to get a little sister building nearby so we can accommodate everybody,” she said. “Or even an infant building.”
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Residents of East 16th and 17th Streets expressed frustration about the planned construction for Washington Irving High School’s façade at a meeting hosted by Council Member Rosie Mendez inside the building on Monday.
East 16th Street resident Julie Block said that she was frustrated by the lack of communication on the part of the School Construction Authority about the project.
“Shame on you for the lack of community input until now,” she said. “We’re the stakeholders in this and we deserve to know what’s going on.”
The purpose of the project, Mendez said, is to repair the facade because of the cracks in the masonry. Netting and scaffolding has been put up to prevent pieces from falling onto pedestrians and some parts of the facade have been temporarily fixed, but some of the more severe cracks have caused water damage and staining inside the school. The budget for the project is $40 million and the expected completion date is March 2020.
The Department of Education did not have representatives at the meeting.
Residents who attended, however, were also concerned that the project will take longer because the work has to be done outside of school hours, with some asking why the work couldn’t get done when the main school closed in 2015 and before the multiple charter schools started moving in.
“If you find a way to stop Eva Moskowitz, let me know,” responded Mendez. “There’s a K-4 school here now and I don’t think we should even have elementary students in this building, but I wasn’t able to stop it.”
By Maya Rader
On Saturday, March 4, students all over the city from Kindergarten to 12th grade faced off at MS 104 in the All Girls NYC Chess Challenge. The tournament was held in honor of Women’s History Month and run by Chess in the Schools, a nonprofit organization that brings chess to New York City students.
The tournament, held in the school cafeteria, was separated into four rounds spanning most of the morning and afternoon, with a break for lunch.
Nine-year-old Peter Cooper Village resident Abigail Yang won a first place trophy for the Kindergarten-5th grade Championship section. Her school PS33 also won first place in both K-5 championship team NYC All Girls and K-2 championship team trophy. The PS33 Chelsea Prep team started in 2016 with five girls and now has 16.
Interviews by Maya Rader
Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed making tuition free at CUNY and SUNY colleges for students with households earning under $125,000. Town & Village asked students at Clinton High School for Writers and Artists if this would impact where they choose to go to school.
George Weathers III
“I feel that I would probably want to stay in the city or the state rather than go outside and spend more money. My parent does not make over 125 thousand dollars, so I would want to get the free education.”
By Elaine Greene Weisburg
Members of The New School’s Institute for Retired Professionals are accustomed to hearing fellow members express their gratitude for this Greenwich Village learning center. This reporter, a member since 2005, has often heard the following comment in one form or another: “The IRP saved my life.”
Of the dozen or so IRP retirees living in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, several have been members for two decades. Among them are Rhonda Gelb who went from school guidance counselor to retirement counselor at J.P. Morgan; Harriett Zwerling, who taught two generations of fourth graders in Greenpoint; and Beverly Butler, a retired city social worker.
For over 50 years this arm of The New School has been an inspirational pioneer in the lifelong education movement, a movement that the aging of the baby boomer generation is actively fueling. The IRP, although a part of a university, does not draw upon its faculty. We practice peer learning which means we, the members, run our program and conduct our classes under the guidance of the IRP executive director.
By Sabina Mollot
After nearly four decades, The Epiphany School will have a new principal.
Former principal — and now school foundation president — James Hayes left the position in June to much fanfare and a 200-person flash mob.
Taking over for him is the former assistant principal, Stuyvesant Town resident Kate McHugh, who joined the school 15 years ago as a science teacher. She is also a graduate of the Catholic school, which now has 560 students.
During a recent interview, McHugh said she’s not planning any major changes, just tweaks to the current curriculum with the goal of doing what it takes to make sure students are confident, both in their faith and in being prepared for the realities of the day’s highly technological world.
“We’ve increased the amount of technology a lot in 15 years,” McHugh said, “mirroring what’s going on in society.”
By Maya Rader
In the coming 2016-17 school year at P.S. 40 elementary school, assistant principal Stephanie Lukas will assume the role of acting principal while Susan Felder, the current principal, takes part in a year-long fellowship program. Daria Agosta, a fifth grade teacher, will take over as assistant principal in Lukas’s stead.
Lukas has been assistant principal for ten years. Before she came to P.S. 40, she taught kindergarten uptown, first at P.S. 151 and then at P.S. 165. The latter had a partnership with the Professional Development School program, meaning professors from Columbia University’s Teachers College would come to Lukas’s classroom to do research. In turn, Lukas received student teachers and could take free classes at Teachers College. Through her school’s connection to the college, Lukas worked with many other teachers and education professionals on joint projects, including co-teaching a seminar for people going into education. Lukas said that from this experience she saw, “that you can have an impact without just being in the classroom.”
Lukas and Felder knew each other before Lukas interviewed for the job of assistant principal at P.S. 40. When Lukas was working at P.S. 165, Felder worked at a school nearby. Felder worked with new teachers as a literary staff developer, so she would sometimes bring new teachers into Lukas’s kindergarten classroom to observe.
Epiphany’s James Hayes steps down after 38 years
By Sabina Mollot
On Friday, June 17, James Hayes, the principal of the Epiphany School for the past 38 years, had intended to treat his last day on the job like any other — by standing out front and greeting the students as they came in.
But this time, when he opened the door, there was a crowd of nearly 200 people outside — students, parents, alumni and neighbors. Before he was fully aware what was going on, the flash mob of fans then broke into song, belting out “I’d Do Anything” from the Broadway show “Oliver.”
They ended with, “We’d do anything for you, Jim, anything. For you mean everything to us.”
According to a parent, assembling the surprise serenade was necessary if the school wanted to give him any kind of sendoff, since he hadn’t wanted a party.
Nonetheless, Hayes seemed to appreciate the gesture, as students and alumni from decades ago lined up for photos with him in front of the school building on East 22nd Street.
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Town & Village Synagogue welcomed a new face to their Hebrew School at the beginning of the summer. Nina Loftspring joined the staff as the principal in July and said she’s been busy since then preparing for the beginning of the school year on September 8.
She’s confident that she’ll be able to do everything she needs to but “You always want more time to get everything ready,” she said. “I always want to start preparing in February!”
It wasn’t by chance that Loftspring ended up at Town & Village. Although she has since moved out of the area, she is a former resident of Stuy Town and appreciates that the synagogue is a small, tight-knit community.
“The kids aren’t just a number or a face in the crowd,” she said. “(Town & Village) knows their families and their commitment is seen through everything they do. It’s a very authentic community.”
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Public school students from throughout the city gathered in Union Square Park on a rainy Tuesday morning on May 19 to present colorfully decorated lunchroom tables that addressed major social issues in their communities and the world.
The students from 10 city schools worked with various artists in their studios to create the painted tables through an initiative made possible by Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LeAp) and the Department of Parks and Recreation. The tables will be on display throughout the five boroughs near the schools where they were created from June through the end of August.
The presentation in Union Square was the only time that all the tables were in one place.
In previous years, students have covered issues like bullying, racism, gay rights and drug addiction but have also addressed issues specifically relevant to the time, such as Hurricane Sandy. This year, students examined issues similar to those in previous years, as well as more current issues like gun violence and police brutality.
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
A group of college-bound seniors at Baruch College Campus High School will soon be heading to MIT to present a detachable rubbish vacuum that they designed and built for use in the subways.
What they came up with is an alternative that they hope the MTA will use to keep the subway tracks clear. The agency currently has entire work trains dedicated to vacuuming up garbage on the tracks, but the prototype that the students have created would instead attach onto the MTA’s existing work trains and, they say, would require less maintenance.
To create the prototype that they primarily worked on in the cramped back section of a classroom, they used motors and filters from actual vacuums, but added on features to make it semi-automatic. The device, which was built on a smaller scale than the real thing to cut down on expenses, has light sensors on the top so it kicks on when it pulls into the station and turns off when back inside the tunnel to conserve energy. Their version operated while plugged into the wall, but in practice the vacuum would draw energy from the third rail, which would also make it more powerful.
By Sabina Mollot
A man attempted to lure a girl at a street fair that was held by the Jack and Jill School two Saturdays ago, Town & Village has learned.
According to a spokesperson for the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, an unknown man approached a six-year-old girl at the event, and asked where her dad was. He then told her she should go with him because he was her uncle, police said.
Mary Carroll French, the director at the school, told Town & Village that while she wasn’t a witness to the incident, she heard after the fact how a man had approached a former student who was at the event and spoke to her.
“It was what the NYPD would call attempted luring,” said Carroll French. But, she added, the girl didn’t respond to him. Additionally, the girl’s father was nearby as was another father and a sexton at the school.
“The sexton had his eye on him and was watching him,” she said. The sexton, then realizing the man was a stranger, shooed the man away and he left with his bike, although Carroll French said she didn’t know if he was riding it.
She noted that since the fair was held on a public street, East 16th Street between Rutherford Place and Third Avenue, anyone could walk through. The event was held from noon to 4 p.m. and Carroll French said she believed the man strode through later in the event. She added that parents at the school, which is for kids ages 2-5, have been alerted.
Police described the man as being black or Hispanic, approximately 6 ft. 1 in. and has curly or wavy hair.
The man’s actions were also mentioned in an email blast to neighbors from the Gramercy Park Block Association this past Tuesday. The email quotes a brief letter sent to parents from another local school that referred to the incident as an attempted kidnapping.
Last weekend, when another local school had a street fair, a couple of police officers were stationed nearby and this time there were no incidents, police said.
By Sabina Mollot
The Third Street Music School Settlement, which has been in the midst of a busy year celebrating its 120th anniversary, now has another thing to celebrate — a $5.3 million renovation. The project, which is scheduled to begin this summer, will include a state-of-the-art auditorium, a newly built ensemble practice and performance space and an adjoining recording studio.
The plan, which is already 80 percent funded, will also include an expansion to the school’s lobby and an additional staircase which will also serve to make the front of the building, currently marred by fire escapes, more attractive with some glass paneling, allowing those on the street a view inside. There will also be a new elevator installed.
“We’ve reached a point where we needed more space,” said Valerie Lewis, the school’s executive director, during a recent conversation at her office. “The demand for our programs continues to grow.”
At this time, there are close to 4,000 students at Third Street, with 1,700 of them enrolled in onsite programs. The rest learn at offsite locations around the city through partnerships with 25 other schools.
However, the school has needed upgrades at its building, located on East 11th Street between Second and Third Avenues, for a while. Originally part of the St. Mark’s Hospital complex, where nurses were housed, the building has two dates on its cornerstone, 1890 and 1926. Its current elevator is the original one, and is a “traction” elevator, meaning it uses steel rope, and is considered a freight elevator that can carry up to 3,000 lbs. The plan to renovate came out of a number of needs voiced by students and their families, in particular the recording studio, which will be located in the building’s sub-basement. Lewis noted how it’s become increasingly common for conservatories and competitive high schools – and even competitive middle and elementary schools — to require students to provide a high quality recording as part of an audition process. In addition to being able to provide that service onsite, Lewis noted that the studio will also be helpful in teaching students about subjects like sound engineering and re-mastering. She’s also mulling the possibility of putting out a Third Street album of music.