Nyack Schools Connection April 2023
Introducing our first e-newsletter for the Nyack Public Schools!
Letter from the Superintendent
Dear Members and Friends of the Nyack Public School District,
We are pleased to share our inaugural e-newsletter. Every month, we will highlight our students and staff who are deeply engaged in an array of innovative and exciting work. We are proud of their positive accomplishments and we hope to shine a light on their excellence. We will continue to bring you a monthly e-newsletter that allows you to see and learn more about what is happening in our schools. Many of these initiatives are shared on our District social media every day and we encourage you to follow us to read more about these #UniquelyNyack stories. Links are incorporated into the features below.
Thank you for your continued support and efforts in helping our #RedHawksSoar.
Superintendent of Schools
Facebook: @nyackschools Instagram: @nyackschools Twitter: @nyack_schools
What's Happening in the #NyackSchools?
Nyack High School
On Thursday, April 20, Nyack High School celebrated the induction of 177 students into nine separate honor societies. In addition to recognizing academic accomplishment, these honor societies provide opportunities to engage in meaningful service activities, participate in interesting projects, and hone valuable skills, like leadership. During the ceremony the teens were asked to reflect on what membership means for their future and achieving their dreams. Congratulations to the newest members and officers of the following organizations: Art Honor Society, Business Honor Society, English Honor Society, French Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta (Math) Honor Society, Science Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Tri-M (Music) Honor Society. View the program for a list of all inductees. View upcoming events.
Nyack Middle School
Nyack Middle School students had the unique opportunity to engage with New York Times best-selling author Kwame Alexander about his novel The Crossover. In preparation, for their virtual meeting, students worked hard to develop meaningful open-ended questions that captivated the author and the audience. They asked about taking risks, writing in a multi-dimensional voice, staying motivated and finding inspiration. View upcoming events.
Liberty Elementary School
Children in our bilingual second grade class recently learned about animal habitats. Students used library resources to research different environments and transformed their findings into three-dimensional dioramas. Each student presented their final project to classmates answering questions and sharing their new found knowledge. View upcoming events.
Upper Nyack Elementary School
As part of National Library Week, Library Media Specialist Julie Zwiebel organized a Book Tasting Party for kindergarten classes. Children sampled a variety of stories and shared what they liked about each with classmates. The activity was designed to expand their reading palate and try new genres and authors. View upcoming events.
Valley Cottage Elementary School
Third grade classes enjoyed a “Day In Clay,” with a hands-on exploration into Native American vessel making and design. Students created their own individual clay pieces using the symbols, patterns, imagery, style and techniques of the Native American potters. View upcoming events.
Points of Pride
Aida Sanabria Earns National Teacher Certification
Nyack Public Schools is proud to announce that Aida Sanabria, a fifth grade teacher at Liberty Elementary School, has been recognized by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as a National Board Certified teacher. National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential that acknowledges effective and accomplished teachers. Ms. Sanabria began to pursue this voluntary program over three years ago.
“Though this was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, it was well worth it,” said Ms. Sanabria. “It reinforced the mentality that under all circumstances, we must prioritize our students and their needs. I did this to become the best teacher I could be."
Ms. Sanabria is a fifth grade teacher at Liberty Elementary and has been working in the Nyack Public schools for 20 years. Prior to joining the district she taught in the Bronx, New York for six years.
Established in 1987, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is an independent, nonprofit organization working to advance accomplished teaching for all students. The National Board is the gold standard of teacher certification and believes higher standards for teachers means better learning for students. Congratulations Aida!
Student Mentor Spotlight: Heroes and Cool Kids
In their final visit with fifth graders across the district, our Nyack High School Heroes focused on an important lesson about underage drug and alcohol use and abuse. Through role-playing activities, the children were encouraged to reflect on how they could respond in situations of peer pressure and learning the difference between saying just "No" and "No, because it's not good for me." Read more about the visit on Facebook.
Heroes and Cool Kids is a unique mentoring program that engages our student-athletes as leaders for their younger cohorts. Throughout the year, the teen mentors receive training and present on topics geared to helping all students make better, healthier choices. Thank you to our NHS teens for serving as positive role models to our elementary students.
Teaching and Learning
AP African American Studies
We are proud to announce that Nyack High School has been selected as one of 60 high schools in the United States to pilot an AP African American Studies course this fall. This follows the completion of a rigorously competitive process conducted by the Advanced Placement Program of the College Board. English teacher Synthia Salomon will participate in a training provided by the College Board this summer, along with a cohort of educators across the nation in preparation for teaching this interdisciplinary course. Students can expect to examine the diversity of African American experiences with an emphasis on developing historical, literary, visual, and data analysis skills.
With literacy being the gateway for lifelong learning, the ELA committee met last summer to review the District’s approaches to literacy instruction. The committee began to identify ways to implement a more comprehensive program for foundational skills at the K-2 level. This led to the implementation of the Heggerty curriculum to support phonological awareness in kindergarten and first grade which complements Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ in our classrooms.
For the 2023-24 school year, the reading specialist team reviewed several options for a new foundational skills curriculum at the elementary level. Four programs were chosen and analyzed by the ELA committee. The finalists were 95% Group, From Phonics to Reading, Fundations® and Benchmark Phonics. The reading specialists will be meeting soon with the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction to discuss the final steps of the selection process.
Grading for Equity
NHS teachers have been meeting to discuss how they can improve student achievement through equitable grading. Principal Saieva and Math Teacher Alex Freuman are leading this important initiative with a group of teachers and administrators. This Think Tank, consisting of teachers from different content areas, special education and ENL, have been reading Grading for Equity by Joe Feldman. Grading for Equity focuses on reducing disparities in academic achievement and promoting a more inclusive and supportive learning environment.
Teachers and administrators are reviewing current grading practices as they consider how they can adopt more equitable grading practices that are accurate, bias-resistant and motivational. These conversations are aligned with the ongoing work in curriculum and teaching strategies that our teachers and administrators continue to review and revise to meet the diverse needs of all of our students.
Class of 2023 Valedictorian and Salutatorian
We are excited to announce that Talia Reiss and Klaus McGinnis have been named as the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Nyack High School Class of 2023! Talia will attend Brown University in the fall and major in American Studies and Nonfiction Writing. Klaus plans to pursue a major in Biomedical and Energy Engineering. Congratulations to these scholars on their content mastery and academic achievement! Learn more about Talia and Klaus on Facebook.
K-12 Career Exploration
Throughout the month of March, our School Counseling Department led a variety of lessons and events to focus on career exploration. Elementary school counselors met with classes, encouraging them to dream big about their future. Their lessons were enhanced with videos that provided a first-hand look at a variety of professions. NMS hosted a virtual career day to discover a world of possibilities for life after graduation. At NHS, "Lunch and Learn" sessions provided a first-hand look at the paths our alumni have paved in their own industries.
Thank you to the dozens of Nyack Schools parents, alumni and community members who shared their personal career journeys to inspire our students.
NMS Transition Conversations
Last week, Nyack Middle School hosted sixth grade parents for a presentation about what to expect in the seventh grade. Principal Johnson led the conversation that included an overview of the topics covered in the seventh grade curriculum by grade-level teachers. School Counselor Edgar Lambert explained the role of his department and outlined the Second Step Program's social-emotional learning activities to come in the academic year ahead. At the end of the event, parents had the opportunity to tour the middle school, including seventh grade classrooms. View a full recording of the presentation on the NMS website.
Current seventh grade parents are invited to attend a Transition Conversation for eighth grade on Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Equity In Action
Autism Awareness Month
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, teachers and students from the District's Social Communication and Therapeutic Support Program (TSP) classes, located at Upper Nyack Elementary School, collaborated to put together a school-wide event to celebrate all these different abilities. In addition to grade-level assemblies, classes received crafts, books and a Google Classroom link to learn more about autism. Read more about the celebration on Facebook.
Supporting LGBTQ+ Middle Schoolers
Family & Community Engagement
Family Resource Center Sustainability Plan
Our District’s Family Resource Centers (FRCs) are deeply rooted in the hearts of our schools with a history that spans across more than twenty years and a mission for connecting families to school and community. Originally based on Yale’s 21C concepts of early childhood development, FRCs provide a benchmark for welcoming families, establishing trust and building relationships. As key conduits for communication, they build authentic relationships, support family engagement and help to ensure students and families feel welcomed, respected and heard in school.
Our FRCs faced challenges through the pandemic, resulting in significant change including the loss of three beloved coordinators who served the district for a combined sixty years. With concern for the future, a group of former FRC coordinators, community leaders and staff were gathered in the fall to assess the state of our FRCs and create a Sustainability Plan. Staff-wide input, county-wide data and collected narratives were compiled into a presentation to the BOE. Recommendations for sustaining our FRCs were submitted in January and unanimously approved by the BOE in March, memorializing a longstanding commitment to FRC legacy.
Sustaining our FRCs is a key initiative in the 2023-24 budget. Guided by Dr. Lizzette Ruiz-Giovinazzi, they will be anchored with refreshed energy and a renewed vision.
Contact our FRC Team
All FRC coordinators are bilingual in English and Spanish.
Valley Cottage Elementary School
Upper Nyack Elementary School
Liberty Elementary School
Nyack Middle School
Budget Vote and Board Election
Nyack Public Schools will hold its annual budget vote and board trustee election on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. In order to vote in the school budget vote and board elections, voters must be registered with the Rockland County Board of Elections or Nyack School District.
Read more details at nyackschools.org.
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