Diving Deep in the Zone
Presented by Zone 126
A Forum for Community Voices on Education
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Pipeline Update
Friends School = Healthy, Happy and Engaged Students
By: Katherine Ray, Community School Director at PS 171Q
For the last several years, PS 171Q has been fortunate enough to partner with NYU Langone Medical Center through Zone 126 to provide additional support to our Pre-K students and their families through the NYU ParentCorps program. The NYU ParentCorps program is a research-based, family-centered intervention that aims to help parents and early childhood teachers create environments in which children thrive. The NYU ParentCorps program has two models the first being the parent program and the second being Friends School which is specifically geared towards students. The Friends School program is a 14-week social-emotional learning curriculum implemented by Pre-K classroom teachers. 

The Friends School program at PS 171Q began in early October and the Pre-K teachers have been implementing the curriculum faithfully and integrating the lessons around friendship, healthy habits, self-control and emotional regulation during their designated time, and building upon them throughout the course of the day. Each of the classrooms have posters prominently displayed, as friendly reminders to students about classrooms procedures and expectations. As veteran teacher Ms. Cassidy said, “Friends School rules are our rules. They are one and the same.” The curriculum features a very lifelike puppet, which teachers use to engage students in a fun way. Mr Guasto said of his classroom puppet, “Jasmine is more than a puppet – she’s an extension of the class. The students see her as one of them, with real thoughts and feelings.” The program has been established as part of the school’s early childhood fabric as a way to build successful habits for students at the very beginning. The program has become quite popular with school administration, teachers, families and even students. Last week a student was overheard as she was walking into the school building “Friends School today?” 
Jasmine comes to life with the help of Ms. Alvarez, the classroom paraprofessional in Pre-K 137.
Community Pride takes a Village!
By: Valentina Di Loreto, Community School Director at IS 126Q
City Year has been a long standing partner at IS 126Q, each day AmeriCorps members provide support in various ways to students and the school through academic support, attendance improvement and much more. Many of the students develop strong mentorship bonds with members during and after-school that support the school’s overall climate. On the morning of November 2, City Year joined school administrators, teachers, and Wells Fargo employees in a beautification effort funded by Wells Fargo. This community work is the embodiment of City Year’s long standing tradition of excellent service to its community and its students. “We wanted to highlight the richness of Queens’ diversity, and relate it to the many backgrounds that make up the ethnic fabric of the United States” a group of volunteers explained, while adding finishing touches to the many artwork pieces developed. The commitment to involving professionals, leaders, and school staff in volunteering activities stems from the understanding and value Principal Angueira places in “making connections for the students about the importance of service and community” he stated, adding that “it is not only about coming to school and learning, it is also about being a member of the community and being a productive member of society.” The murals and decorative banners create a colorful and welcoming atmosphere for students, reminding them of the value and appreciation this community has for the neighborhood as well as them.
A newly painted mural greets students as they enter IS 126Q each morning.
9th Grade College Visit: A WonderFALL Day at CUNY Brooklyn
By: Michelle Makabali, Community School Director at Long Island City High School
On Monday, November 4th, students in the 9 th grade AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class explored CUNY Brooklyn College. For a number of students, it was their first time venturing out of their home borough of Queens, and for others, it was their first time on a college campus.
Our LICHS students acquired quite a bit of knowledge during their field trip, learning about the five different schools that are a part of Brooklyn College. Schools focused on business, education, humanities and the social sciences, natural and behavioral sciences, along with visual, media and performing arts. Students were able to gain a better understanding of the various majors that are housed under each of the schools and the courses that they might take under them.

On our early afternoon walking tour students were able to see the 24/7 Library Cafe, the bustling Student Center, the Athletic Complex, and recreational intramural center including an on-site gym for the entire student body. The on-site tour provided our students a window into seeing what a day in the life on a college campus looks like and what their lives would be like in the next four years. Assistant Principal Natalya Duncan who attended the field trip said “It is essential to have young people envision themselves post high school. Starting college tours in the 9th grade allows students to see what they need to accomplish now and how it will be able to affect their life after they graduate high school.”

Our LICHS students had an opportunity to ask specific questions about tuition, financial aide and scholarship opportunities to tour guides. Two students Layla and Marianna who were on the field trip discussed how they noticed how many students they saw carrying laptops and books and utilizing a variety of creative spaces to study. Another student LICHS student Halima said “It is great to be part of a high school that truly believes in taking us on field trips to see what college looks like rather than just taking all the preparatory classes. I know 4-years of high school will fly by and this provides me an opportunity to take my time and really think about what I want for my future.” 

It was truly a magnificent experience to watch our LICHS students begin to think about college and see themselves on a college campus while also thinking about future career options. Seeing our students engaged and curious, and looking forward to future possibilities made this field trip truly memorable experience for all. 
9th Grade AVID students w/ AP Duncan visiting CUNY Brooklyn. Picture taken in the Quad in front of the Clocktower.
Community Dialogues on Chronic Absenteeism in our Local Schools
By: Nílber Remón, Data & Evaluation Coordinator at Zone 126
Regular school attendance for students of every age is fundamental for realizing substantive academic achievement throughout a student’s career and has enduring impacts on their socio-emotional development (1). Chronic absenteeism (CA) invokes a strategic concern within the framework of Zone 126’s collective impact model structured around the student cradle-to-career pipeline. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) defines CA as students who have been absent 10% or more of the instructional days in which they were enrolled (18-20 days a year or ~2 days a month). Research has demonstrated that “children who are chronically absent have lower levels of school readiness upon entering kindergarten, are less likely to read at grade level by the third grade, show lower levels of social engagement, are more likely to drop-out of school, and are less likely to graduate from high school or attend college.”(2) As a response to emerging trends in our community schools’ attendance data, Zone 126 is hoping to interrogate and address CA systematically through a prism of school, parent and community perspectives that can provide the rubric for scaling interventions at a community scale.

Zone 126 is facilitating and advocating for parent and family engagement around CA through various modes of practice including home visits, continuous outreach to parents and parent workshops. On November 20th, Zone 126 held a focus group with parents of elementary and middle school children living in Astoria Houses, a NYCHA public housing development, centered on a dialogue around barriers and challenges to school attendance for children living in public housing and how community could collectively begin to tackle CA in our schools. Parents and families are integral thought partners in providing insight into the drivers of CA that attendance data on its own can’t effectively encapsulate for designing interventions and they are strategic to ensuring and prioritizing successful student attendance once they are given the necessary supportive resources (3). By pursuing incisive parent and family engagement, Zone 126 can leverage both school and community partners to re-energize student attendance rates and inspire meaningful change in student’s life outcomes.

1 Gottfried, Michael A. (2014). Chronic Absenteeism and Its Effects on Students’ Academic and Socioemotional Outcomes. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk 19(2), 53-75.
2 Lara, Julia, Stacey Pelika, et.al. (2018). Chronic Absenteeism. National Education Association Research Brief (NBI No. 57). 
3 Attendance Works. (2013). Bringing Attendance Home: Engaging Parents in Preventing Chronic Absence.
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We would like to thank all of our funders for their support: Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Foundation, US Department of Education, New York City Department of Education, Altman Foundation, Blue Buffalo Foundation, Pinkerton Foundation, and Phyllis Backer Foundation.