Diving Deep in the Zone
Teacher, Please Wake Me Up
by Anthony Lopez, Executive Director

If you can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in whack.”
-Dr. Seuss

Research in social science, psychology, pedagogy, economics and politics are influencing how the philanthropic sector responds to attempts at tackling problems associated with eradicating generational poverty while achieving some level of social and racial justice for Black, Latino and low-income communities. Yet, as researchers and scientists identify inequality and develop tools to address their multiple consequences, less attention is given to how or why these inequalities are created, reconstructed, reinforced and normalized across generations. In 2018, public schools in Western Queens can have a lasting positive impact on the future of Black, Latino and low-income youth only if they make room for learning and challenging the myths and merits about living in a meritocracy. 

In an article written in The Atlantic, David Stovall, professor of educational-policy studies and African American studies at University of Illinois at Chicago, said “If young folks see themselves being discriminated against, they’ve been told that a system is fair, and they experience things that are unfair, they will begin to reject this particular system and engage in behaviors that will not be to their betterment,” he explained. Stovall said it’s critical to guide young people from “defiant resistance”—defying what they’ve learned to be untrue regarding a just and fair system for all—to “transformative resistance”—developing a critical understanding of the historical context of U.S. society. Educators, he said, play a crucial role in this work.

There is nothing wrong with asking different questions about school. In college, I read Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States . The same history already taught in our schools, but from the perspective of the indigenous and enslaved, women, LGBTQ+ and labor. This point of view unlocked my ability to think critically about my life and career choices. Imagine what can happen if we unlocked young minds earlier in their development. Public schools in Western Queens do not have to unintentionally contribute further to Black, Latino and low-income students’ marginalization and oppression. Or is it just about order, compliance and the normative standards that have failed to position them for success? Maybe the structure was never intended for them to measure up. Research tells us that students who are told that things are fair implode in middle schools as self-doubts sets in, blaming themselves for problems they have no control over.

Zone 126 wants families living in northwestern Queens to understand that the education their children receive in school can make the difference in how they approach their right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Teacher, please wake me up.
News from the Zone
Pipeline Update
College Planning Begins in
Kindergarten for Students to Rise
 by Dylan Woloszczuk, Community School Coordinator CS 111Q
At Zone 126, building strong community partnerships is an essential part of maintaining strong community ties. This year, we are pleased to announce our partnership with NYC Kids RISE , an organization dedicated to making college economically attainable for all NYC public school students, no matter where they come from or how much their families have in the bank.

NYC Kids RISE is beginning its long and meaningful journey right in our backyard, in District 30 . Partnering with over 30 schools in the district, NYCKR is working in collaboration with Zone 126 around two of its partner schools ( CS 111Q , and PS 171Q ). 

The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program is designed to empower families to begin saving for their child’s higher education early on. Targeted specifically towards Kindergarten families, each child has an automatic deposit of $100 into a scholarship account; families can then earn up to an additional $75 in rewards by completing three “Building Blocks,” which include registering to monitor their NYC Scholarship account, and opening and contributing to their own college savings account. To date over 3,000 Kindergarten students are on a path to college success due to the early planning. 

Ultimately, NYC Kids RISE’s vision of building relationships with families, schools, and the District 30 community, and developing a long-term partnership epitomizes what we at Zone 126 call “cradle to career” support. By developing these initial steps, collectively we are putting the children of Astoria and Long Island City on a path to success, that leads us to breaking the cycles of generational poverty.

Learn more about NYC Kids RISE at www.NYCKidsRISE.org or find them on Facebook , Twitter or Instagram .
PS 171Q and Community-Word Project:
Collective Impact Work Comes to Life
by: Michelle Makabali, Community School Director Long Island City High School
Community-Word Project (CWP) brings collaborative arts residencies to classroom teachers. This school year PS 171Q and Community-Word Project embarked on a new journey together. Community Word Project writer named Ms. Moira Theilking  and theater artist Ms. Jacqueline Raymond worked with 3 classes of 2nd and 3rd grade students. 
Ms. Theilking and Ms. Raymond focused on the theme of self-identity. Students were asked to bring a special object from home (toys, stuffed animals etc) to inspire each student's individual haiku. This 20-week residency provided great opportunity for both teaching artists and classroom teachers to combine different learning strategies for writing and creative expression.
The CWP teaching artist duo was able to tap into other resources. They introduced books from a local writer named Renee Watson. An additional teaching artist from Community Word Project named Gary Devirgilio came to the classes to play guitar and sang with the students before the Thanksgiving Break. In February, the final culmination project brought all classes from both grades to celebrate with their families in a presentation of student work.

Ms. Autumn Tilson , Program Manager of School Partnerships for Community-Word Project described the inaugural year as the following, "Overall, the residency was a big success! The students were very eager and willing to try new things and take risks. Their writing was brave, creative, detailed, and personal. The students had ‘serious fun’ and so did the teaching artists!"

PS 171Q, Community-Word Project and Zone 126 look forward to future collaboration and bringing collective impact to life.
2nd and 3rd grade participants of Community-Word Project's residency expressing their gratitude
Work-Based Learning at Long Island City High School
by Kiara Rodriguez, Community School Coordinator Long Island City High School
At Long Island City High School , providing a foundation for student success in college and career is fundamental to the fabric of the school. Students are encouraged to participate in work-based learning programs during their final year of high school. Work-based learning is an educational strategy designed to help students transition effectively from school into the workforce. The program has offered New York City public school students the opportunity to hone in on workplace skills and gain experience working in diverse fields. 

During the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, seniors on track to graduation were assigned opportunities such as: the school Health clinic, assisting parent coordinators with parent interactions in languages other than English; in Regents prep classes tutoring 9th and 10th grade students; at the Living for the Young Family Through Education (LYFE) Center working with young children; in the Kitchen, Main Office, and at Zone 126. During these internships, students learn about interpersonal communication, professionalism, and teamwork among other skills. I sat down with Ms. Laura Parker, Culinary Arts Instructor and Work Based Learning Coordinator of Long Island City High School’s work-based learning program to discuss the progress and successes of the internships. Ms. Parker noted that as the program advanced, “students have gained a better understanding of time management…and there has been a switch in level of maturity and independence.” 

As the work-based learning program grows at Long Island City High School, students will continue to have opportunities to gain critical experiences that will help them succeed when they begin college or their career. Ms. Parker’s vision for the future of the program is to work with students during their junior year to assure that they are being placed at a site that aligns with their interests.
Closing the Digital Divide One Family At A Time
by Andre T. Stith, Organizing Director
Students and their families at IS 126Q , are getting a digital lesson thanks to Councilman Costa Constantinides and the PowerMyLearning program. Saturday mornings have now been filled with families coming together to learn how to turn on a computer, how to surf the web, internet safety, and how critical these skills are to succeeding in the 21st century. Parents are guided towards websites that have provide a wealth of information to support their student and the rest of their family succeed inside and outside of the classroom. One of the websites that helps parents support their students learning is Pupil Path, where parents can log on and track their students individual program in real time. Long-time Zone 126 parent Olga Silva said “the program is a plus, just being something that the family learned and shared together.” Councilman Constantinides came out to speak with parents about the importance of the program, and how critical it is in this day and age. All families who attended the workshop were provided a free desktop computer to take home and continue their individual learning, closing the digital divide one family at a time. 
What We Are Reading
  • Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Justice by Carla Shedd
Knowledge Corner
Zone 126 In the News
Social-Emotional Learning
KnowledgeWorks' Updated Social-Emotional Learning Poster

Long Island City High School Marched into Women's History Month with this fact-filled bulletin board
New York Nonprofit Media:
FundCon 2018
Photo by Ali Garber: New York Nonprofit Media. Full album here
March 15, 2018
Anthony Lopez spoke on a panel about The Importance of a Fundraising Mindset to All of Your Organizational Communications
Anju J. Rupchandani in STEAM Women's History Month Recognition
Hearts Across Queens profiled inspiring and empowered local women in Queens, including Zone 126's Vice President of Collective Impact Partnerships Anju J. Rupchandani.

Read her inspiring story here
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We would like to thank all of our funders for all their help: Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Foundation, New York City Department of Education, Altman Foundation, Pinkerton Foundation, Phyllis Backer Foundation, and Staples Foundation.
  *Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual