Dear P.S. 321 Families,
It is hard to believe that it is already 2014! These next two months are filled with so many wonderful activities at PS 321. As you know, January is “Green and Healthy Month,” a time when we highlight ways in which children can make healthy choices for themselves and their environment. Our goal is to instill lasting green and healthy values in our children, and we do this in a variety of ways. Our science and physical education teachers teach lessons related to this focus, and classroom teachers also focus on this in their classrooms. One of our most popular Family Nights is Green and Healthy Night on January 23 at 6:30 which will include ping pong, stone soup, a dance party, samples from local chefs, a Capoeira demonstration, and much more!
January is also a time we remember Martin Luther King Jr. All classes will be reading aloud and discussing A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Eric Vasquez. One of the reasons that I selected this book, out of the many that honor King, is that it celebrates not only Martin Luther King, Jr., but the many ordinary people who took action against injustice. It’s a beautiful picture book that should lead to some great discussions. This year for the first time, our Diversity Committee is sponsoring a Martin Luther King Day Writing and Art Competition, and children have the option of submitting an entry to this by January 13.
Our Meet the Writers Committee is also active this winter. On January 6, Rebecca Stead, author of award winning novels for young people-- When You Reach Me, Liar and Spy, and First Light,--gave an inspiring presentation to our fifth graders, who asked fabulous questions! And, on January 23, beloved picture book author/illustrator Vera B. Williams will be meeting with our second graders. On February 3, Johan Olander—parent, author, and amazing presenter—will be meeting with our third graders. And on February 24, local author and former PS 321 parent Isabel Hill will meet with our Kindergarten students to share her lovely, simple picture books.
A couple of months ago we started a Technology Committee consisting of parents and teacher technology leaders. This committee has been very active in thinking about current and future technology needs and goals, and it is currently planning our first ever Family Technology Night for Tuesday, February 4 at 6:30. This promises to be an evening filled with rich activities for children and parents to do together.
We celebrate the arts as well this winter, and the end of February features another fabulous family night, Family Arts Night. This will take place on February 27 and includes arts activities that children and parents can participate in. We also have a Neighborhood Classics Concert featuring world renowned concert pianist (and former PS 321 student and parent), Simone Dinnerstein on February 11.
Building off of the moving and informative “Teachers Talk Testing” forum held in December, our Testing Task Force has developed a website: www.teacherstalktesting.com
, which features video clips from the forum and more. Check it out!
This is an exciting time in the New York City Department of Education. I am very pleased that we have a Chancellor who is a life-long educator and committed to so many of the same educational approaches and values that we believe in at P.S. 321. Carmen Farina was formerly Superintendent of District 15 and then Region 8, and she is an extraordinary leader and community builder. We’re so fortunate that she is now heading our school system.
I wish all of you the best for 2014. I thank you for being such great partners and look forward to our continued work together.
Liz Phillips, Principal
P.S. During these winter months, we try to have the children go outside to recess as much as possible, so please make sure that your children come dressed warmly each day.