I hope this message finds you and your family well. We are thrilled to have your children back in classrooms across the state and cannot wait to see all the amazing things they will achieve.
As this new school year gets underway, I encourage you to take advantage of the helpful resources detailed in this newsletter – resources that are designed to help your child excel academically and personally. And please take this opportunity to watch our Welcome Back Video Series, in which state leaders share their favorite school memories and advice for students.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Elevating student voice is critical to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in school districts. NYSED, in partnership with the Region 2 Comprehensive Center, is hosting a live, three-part webinar series in which we will hear from six school districts that are engaging students as partners and leaders in DEI efforts. Please visit NYSED's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion website for more information and to register. The webinars take place on September 27, October 18, and November 8.
You can also stay involved in state-level education policy by familiarizing yourself with the state’s school and district accountability system. NYSED is accepting public comment on proposals to amend the Commissioner’s Regulations relating to the Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) accountability system.
Indoor Activities, Family Events
As the weather begins to turn chillier, you may be looking for more indoor family activities. The New York State Museum’s new exhibition, Each One Inspired: Indigenous Art Across the Homelands, features more than 60 original creations of Indigenous artwork by artists whose homelands lie within what is now New York. This collection of contemporary art focuses on Indigenous histories, teachings, and communities and how they relate to and inspire our relationships and connections to our environment. The State Museum is also home to many other exhibitions and experiences, including a reconstructed Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Longhouse, the Cohoes Mastodon, Discovery Place, and the historic carousel!
In addition, you can join the New York State Library each month for a full slate of free programs, including onsite walking tours and a presentation on picture books and activities to pair with them. Check out the full calendar of upcoming programs on the New York State Library website—including Family History Day on October 1.
I am also thrilled to share that this month, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 22 schools across New York have been recognized as 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools, including nineteen public and charter schools and three nonpublic schools. A full list of the 2023 New York State National Blue Ribbon Schools is available on NYSED’s website. Congratulations to all the honorees!
At the September 2023 Board of Regents meeting, the Board and I honored Zachary Arenz, a music teacher at Flower City School Number 54 in Rochester, the 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year. Mr. Arenz embodies the power of the arts. In addition to his traditional music classes, he also teaches ensembles and instrumental lessons and has developed a music enrichment program for students who are experiencing grief. Mr. Arenz is not only a model leader for his students but also a dynamic example of excellence and motivation for his colleagues. He inspires students and positively impacts their social emotional development as well as their academic skills by ensuring his students enjoy learning through music. I am proud to honor Mr. Arenz as our Teacher of the Year. Congratulations!
Watch this inspiring video from New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) to learn more about 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year Zachary Arenz.