Weekly Letter 2/9/18

Dear Parents,

Our second semester is well underway. As I tour classrooms during the school day and observe the social, emotional, and academic climate of our school community, I am delighted to observe the following:

-Students engaged in the learning process; asking thoughtful questions and excited to contribute to class discussions.
-Teachers excited and invested in subject matter and student learning.
-Note taking and study skills included in the academic curriculum.
-Students being held accountable for their in class work, behavior, and work habits.
-Thoughtful and productive conversations around curricular activities and readings.
-Critical thinking skills being developed in math classes by teachers who refuse to simply “feed” students algorithms and answers.
-Group projects requiring students to work together in completing academic tasks.
-Cognitive, emotional, and social safety created in our classrooms, which allows students to learn, make mistakes, and move forward without being made to feel badly about themselves.

In other news, I am thrilled to announce that three of our 8th grade students competed in the National History Bee this week and qualified to compete in the final round in Atlanta next month. A huge congratulations to:

-Jackson Butts
-Paolo Ierace
-Macy Lerner

As you know, we are in the midst of determining the location of The City School for the 2018-19 school year and are thrilled to have two great options. We greatly appreciate the feedback received from our parents, both in the meeting we had with parents and in the survey emailed to families in my newsletter last week. The Board will consider parent input and will be making a final decision by the end of the month. If you have further questions, concerns, or comments about the site, please email our executive director, Valerie Braimah at: vBraimah@citycharterschools.org.

On a different note, I wanted to inform our parents that we discovered a couple of students who brought drug paraphernalia and marijuana to school this week. While I understand that this is quite a common occurrence in both public and private middle schools throughout the nation (and world), it is not common at The City School and it is something that we take very seriously. As students (mainly 7th & 8th graders) have caught wind of this and are discussing it amongst themselves, I took some time at today’s All School Meeting to discuss this with our students. My conversation with our students highlighted the following:

-Not only is it illegal for students to use drugs and alcohol, serious consequences can occur to those who are caught using drugs and alcohol both on and/or off campus. Consequences include arrest, suspension, expulsion, etc.
-Research states that teens who use drugs regularly are 65 percent more likely to develop an addiction than those who hold off experimenting until the age of 21, after which the chance of addiction drops to 2 percent.
-It has been proven that drug use can drastically and permanently harm young and developing brains. In fact, teens who use marijuana regularly have up to an eight point drop in IQ even if they quit as adults.
-It is not “cool” to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Even e-cigarettes (vaping with added flavor) is dangerous as it leads users to perceive e-cigarettes to be far more benign than they actually are.
-While I understand this is an uncomfortable subject to discuss, particularly for our younger students, research has proven that it is critical for parents and educators to discuss drug use with students on a regular basis, rather than a “one and done” discussion. We will continue to have these conversations in Advisory  and will have a directed focus on this topic during our Spring Wellness Day on April 3rd.

I also took some time to talk to the students about an issue occuring at school where students (both African American and other races) are saying the “n” word. Additionally, apparently some  African American students have taken it upon themselves to give a “pass” to certain students who are not African American, allowing them to say the “n” word. I explained to our students that the “n” word is highly offensive to all people because it is a word that is degrading of human beings, and we are ALL human beings. Nobody has a “pass” to say this word. I then reminded students of our school’s policy that we do NOT refer to anyone by calling them any derogatory names at all, particularly those related to race, religion, culture, sexual preference or orientation. I hope you will take a few minutes to follow up with your students about this important topic.

In closing, the lottery for The City School will take place on March 14th. The last day to apply to the lottery is March 1st at 12pm. THERE IS NO FLEXIBILITY IN THIS TIMELINE. If you have a child at TCS who has a sibling planning on attending for the 2018-19 school year, please know that the sibling does have priority but he/she must be entered into the lottery.

Please remember that we have no school next Wednesday and Thursday, February 15th and 16th due to professional development and no school on Monday, February 19th due to President’s Day.

Have a great weekend.
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