new acting principal for ps 295

A lot of strong schools in several neighborhoods have been getting new principals for the past couple of years. Sometimes it is because the principal is retiring, sometimes they have been offered a position that is too good to pass up. Usually the school will do a search for the right candidate, inside their school as well as outside. Being a Assistant Principal is not like being "Vice President" or the first runner up for Miss America. They may be a likely candidate, but the job of Principal is not a natural career progression for everyone. More than half of the new principals below came from outside the school community.

Shout out to Lena Barbera at PS 20 in Ft. Greene, Eve Litwack at 107 in the South Slope, Rebecca Fagin at PS 29 in Cobble Hill, Eric Havlick at PS 154 in Windsor Terrace, and now Linda Mazza at PS 295 in Greenwood Heights.

I wrote about the process of getting a new principal in "When Your Beloved Principal Leaves". You can read more about Ms. Mazza on the school's website.

I loved this quote from an active PS 295 parent, "She really gets kids and understands how things work in the classroom--I'm so glad we'll be putting her experience and insight to work for the school as a whole (though, selfishly, I'm sorry to lose her as one of my son's classroom teachers!)"


what is up with red shirting

Red Shirting is the practice of holding late birthday kids back so that they benefit from being the oldest in the class. There is always heated debate about if it is really a good idea or not. My kids (girls) have late Nov. birthdays and I was clueless -and desperate to get them into free kindergarten. They started K as old fours and never looked back. In general, someone has to be the youngest, no matter what the cutoff date. It is very important that there not be too large an age spread in the k classroom. For a child who is appears to be fairly school ready, being younger isn't really an issue in my experience. The problem is that there are exceptions; very small or shy kids, or kids with other special needs who really may not be ready. I really feel for these families, who are not trying to give their kids some imaginary edge, but are really fighting for what is necessary for their children to thrive in their first academic year.
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The Diverse Schools Dilemma

I am reading "The Diverse Schools Dilemma: A Parent's Guide to Socioeconomically Mixed Public Schools" by Michael J. Petrilli and I am riveted.

He is the executive vice president of the Thomas B.Fordam Institute a think tank focused on K-12 education policy, and executive editor of the journal "Education Next". He is also a father living just outside Washington DC in Tacoma Park, MD (self described as Berkeley East... I thought Park Slope was Berkeley East!). Looking for a socioeconomically and racially diverse school in a vibrant, urban neighborhood that is experiencing gentrification.

He works through the studies, but this is not a dry recitation of stats. He asks the questions everyone asks - in a nutshell - "Will a diverse school slow down my child?" The answer is, not if it is the right school and there are many pieces to the 'right school' puzzle. The first part of the book lays out the many pros and cons. The end of the book gives some guidance about to how to assess your own choices and second to the last chapter entitled: How to Gentrify a High Poverty School...interesting. I haven't finished yet, but my next blog will be about those last chapters and how they fit our situation here in Brooklyn. It is a terrific short read and well worth the $10 to upload to your new holiday Kindle.


new years resolutions for parents of 2008 birthday children

1. Don't panic. There is no need and people who panic drown. Stay calm and centered and when "that mom" at the playground tells you that you are screwed because you didn't do this-and-such or didn't get into "the" school. Drop her. She is trouble and she is not correct, and your poor spouse will have to spend a week talking you down, when you should have been laughing with your child.
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kindergarten news 2013

The DoE has just put up a bare bones calendar:
The application period for K begins on Jan.22, 2013 and ends March 1, 2013. Placement offers will be distributed in early April and "pre-registration" (when you go to the school with your child, proofs of residency, immunization records and birth records) is April 8- April 26, 2013.

Prek info is even barer bones - Early March Application period begins (directories and applications available) Early April is the deadline to submit applications. The offers are made in early June. Pre-register in Mid-June.

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PS 118 (formly referred to as 763), the new program at St. Thomas Aquinas

Liz Phillips, PS 321 Principal, Elizabeth Garraway, Proposed 763 PrincipalThank goodness, we can call it something other than "the mystery school" or "formerly know as"! It seems that it is PS 763 for now. Elizabeth Garraway, current AP at PS 321 and proposed principal for the new school attended an Open House at the St. Thomas Aquinas building so that neighborhood families could get a peak at her and at the new building the week before Thanksgiving. It was a tough crowd, but everyone attending was more interested in information than aggravation.

The big take away is that she is ready and enthusiastic to partner with families to make the program the good fit for the neighborhood. Since the school has not been voted on by the PEP and she is not officially principal there is only so much she can propose. Also because she wants this to really be a collaboration between parents and the administration, she needs to have those one on one discussions with families who want to be part of the process. She encouraged families to write her with questions, concerns or ideas

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PS 133, School of Choice

Heather Foster-Mann, PrincipalI am sure you have heard by now that PS 133 (temporarily located in the St. Thomas Aquinas building on 4th Ave. and 8th St. for the last 3 years) has become a "school of choice" for both District 13 and 15. It will return to its old site (4th Ave. and Butler) in fall 2013 and move into a brand new much larger building.

There are a few changes. First, the zone for PS 133 has gone away. The few blocks that made up the zone have been absorbed into the neighboring PS 282 zone. We don't know exactly how registration will be handled but it is likely that if there are more people applying than there are seats available that there will be a lottery for the seats. It is a big school to fill and there will be lots of seats available.

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i was a new school parent

I mentioned that I had some experience in a new school in the last blog and I thought it might be interesting for you to know a little more about that experience, lest you think I am just making all this "positive change" stuff up. I am sending this out as a love letter to the families considering the "new program" in Park Slope, PS 705 and New American Academy in District 17, PS 414 in Williamsburg and the myriad of new charter programs that are popping up in many districts, including BUGS Middle School that I hope will find a home in fall of 2013. My kids attended a local, diverse, strong and established elementary - our new school experience came at middle school. If you think that this doesn't apply to your situation - let me say that it I think it is a lot easier to "pioneer" at elementary when the kids are little and mostly under the influence of their parents.
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Park Slope rezoning update, and more cents from me

I attended the meeting at John Jay last night where the new version of zone lines where announced. As DNA info leaked, the 39 zone changes have been taken off the table. The 107/10 zone lines remained the same. The 321 zone has been cropped at 5th Ave.

The PS 39 parents pledged to remain active to help the new St. Thomas building program ramp up their new PTA. There will be meetings, yet to be scheduled, so that rezoned families can meet Elizabeth Garraway, the proposed new principal, see the building, and get more details about the new program. This will probably be after the vote has occurred.

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Rezoning District 15, CEC meeting report

Close to 200 parents and neighbors crowded the PS 38 auditorium last night to hear proposed zoning changes to schools in Park Slope/District 15. Carrie Marlin, Director of Planning for the DoE, gave the presentation to present the proposed changes. The DoE is putting the presentation on their website later today for review for parents who were not able to attend.

Jim Devor, CEC (Community Education Council) President, explained that these discussions began almost 2 years ago around the collaboration between District 13 and District 15 to build a new and larger building in Gowanus to house PS 133. That building will be habitable in fall of 2013 and will become a “school of choice” for both districts. When the students assigned to the new construction vacate the small St. Thomas Aquinas building at 8th St. and 4th Ave. it will be available to District 15. Over time the conversation shifted to rezoning talks for the center and south slope for District 15 as it became clear that capacity issues at PS 107 and PS 321, two strong an popular programs in Park Slope, had reached a critical point.

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gifted & talented 2013

Update! The Request for testing is up. The deadline to register is 11/9.

It should be that time of year, but its not. Last year at this time families were busily filling out their online gifted and talented "Request for Testing" forms. This year the DoE is a bit late. This is the page you need to watch. Registration should be up shortly in "mid October". You will likely have a few weeks to sign up but don't miss the deadline when it is set! Make sure to get a testing date and a confirmation. The test dates are usually in Jan. and Feb.

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ch-ch-ch-ch-changes in district 15 for fall of 2013

We have been waiting for word on several changes that are expected to land on the neighborhoods (particularly Park Slope) before the new year. It appears that the DoE is flying some trial balloons. Let me stress that nothing is set in stone yet! This should be decided by Jan. of 2013.

  • Here are the players: District 15 schools that are full to bursting (321, 39, 107)
  • District 13 school, PS 133, that is getting a brand new and lovely, large building on 4th Ave. and Butler on the border of Gowanus and Park Slope - is moving back to that new building in the fall of 2013
  • St. Thomas Aquinas School building on 4th Ave. and 8th St. where the students from PS 133 are being housed until their new building is done, will be vacant for a new program in fall of 2013.
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gifted and talented over-offer at PS 32

First let me say that PS 32 is blameless in this fiasco. Last year, their first year with a g&t kindergarten, PS 32 in Carroll Gardens had a small under capacity classroom. Over the 2011/12 year, PS 32 gained a reputation as a strong, happy and conveniently located program. This year many families placed it high on their g&t wish lists. The DoE, seeing that last year, there was a less than 30% registration rate, decided to assign 70 students to the classroom, thinking that only a small percentage would actually want to attend. They didn't realize that the school had become a "go to" program in the district in one short year.

So what is happening at PS 32 today? They already have over 30 families registered with more coming. They are registering all families through the June 5 deadline and trying desperately to find out what to tell the families to calm their fears. Families are worried that they won't be able to attend the school that they chose and were placed in. Many of these families have already been saddened by the fact that there are not even close to enough seats in the city wide schools that they qualified for, but they were happy to have this new local option that looks so promising.

So if you are among those waiting on pins and needles to see if you have a seat at 32:
Call and write the central enrollment office:
(718) 935-2009 Gentian Falstrom

AND the Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio (212) 669-7250

AND Schoolbook 646-801-9698

what are these school awards?

I see lot of awards around these days. Principals get Cahn Fellowships, teachers get Blackboard Awards, schools get the Broad Prize and then there are those signs outside of schools with A+ on them (they are just a commercial school sign template).

I was curious when I heard that PS 110 in Greenpoint was the first public school in NY City to be awarded the New York State ASCD, “Educating the Whole Child in the 21st Century” Award. This award recognizes schools that support education that is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.

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kindergarten 2012 waitlists: remain calm

Here is what you need to know about the DOE: they make decisions based on citywide issues. The decisions may seem politically loaded depending on the local lens through which they are viewed - they have to do with the minutiae of bureaucracy and not evil intent. If there was an evil master plan, everything would probably work more smoothly - I AM JOKING.

Here is what is going on with the wait-lists at local zoned schools:
First off, I have not seen or heard from a single family who has received a rejection letter. If you have one, I would love to see it. There is a WORLD of difference between a rejection and a wait-list. Everyone needs to take a breath.

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