Volume 03 | March 2018
Guided by our Hearts, Driven by the Data
Dear S2 Supporter,

More than halfway through our second year we continue to learn more about our students, staff and families every day. We embrace this ongoing process which allows us to continue refining our understanding of our community members and making thoughtful changes. Put another way: in everything we do here at School in the Square, we are guided by our hearts and driven by the data.

Under the leadership of our principal, Carrie Amon, we guide our practice using data in many forms: assessments, teacher observations, student and parent surveys, monthly gatherings with parents, and notes in our suggestion box. We regularly review this data to understand and improve our performance as a school. While this process takes much time and resources, we do it because we care about serving all of our community members at the highest level.

This winter, from 8:00A - 6:00P Monday through Friday and on Saturday's from 9:00A - 12:00P, the school is abuzz with tutoring groups, sports practices, spaces for quiet reading or homework help, and of course academic classes . We are constantly creating new opportunities, including workshops, after school programs, small group trips or new “Passions” classes, which we recommend to students and teachers. In soliciting teacher and student participation, we reaffirm the place of Choice as an essential component of S2’s vision and approach. As such, we continue to develop our students’ agency and to reinforce the notion that each of us is capable of shaping our own future.

I hope you will take a minute to peruse our newsletter to learn a bit more about new opportunities at the school, our innovative test prep program, and our first cheerleading team! Also, please check out our new website and please follow us on Facebook .

Finally, remember that our door is always open when you have the time to visit.

As always, we remain grateful for your support and investment in our student's success.
Evan Meyers
Executive Director

PS: We are currently hiring a new cohort of teachers for the coming year, please send any referrals! Details on open positions HERE .

As part of our effort to use data to guide our educational practice, we administered mid-year MAP assessment tests in ELA and Math. These tests predict our students’ scores for the upcoming NY state exams. While we do see growth, as expected many students still face delays in their education passed up from elementary school. In response, we are implementing an optional test-prep intensive to help struggling students succeed in the upcoming exams. To avoid losing precious classroom time to building test-taking skills, our instructional team have committed to working with students after school until 6P and on Saturdays from 9A-12P. This past weekend, 80 students elected to join us for two hours of intense work followed by a pizza party. We are hopeful that this extra effort will produce noticeable results.

During Quarter 3, we provided multiple opportunities for students to explore their interests and build on classwork in inspiring settings:

  • 22 artistic students spent a morning at MoMA for an exclusive and inspiring experience.
  • 39 students attended a powerful one-woman show about civil rights.
  • Honor Roll science students took an interactive trip to Biobase in Harlem.
  • The whole school went to the movies to see "Wonder" based on the book we've been reading and discussing.

These experiences build on students' passions and truly bring learning to life.

"Choice" is an essential component of our school. Every quarter, we offer new electives to our students through a self-selected class we call "Passions". These electives spark our students' excitement for school and expose them to new creative possibilities. In the past, options have included coding, robotics, drumming, yoga and rugby. We pride ourselves on partnering with local mission-aligned organizations to bring exciting new Passions to our students every quarter. This quarter, we are partnering with Divine Appetite for a culinary arts option focused on health and wellness (pictured), with Midori & Friends for a choir option, and with Ballroom Basix for "fun, fitness and fancy footwork"!

Ms. Amon keeps a suggestion box outside of her door and students are not shy about using it. One student in particular, an energetic girl named Skylar, had a particular mission: she wanted an S2 cheerleading team. She put her suggestion in the box every day for a month AND recruited a team of girls to support her campaign with a petition. So we recruited a coach, held tryouts, and selected our first ever cheerleading team. Now 17 girls, including Skylar, practice in the gym every Friday after school. We are so grateful that our students feel comfortable speaking up, knowing that we are listening and that building this school is an effort shared by all.
Juvel Mendez, 7th Grader

Juvel Mendez sports a cool haircut, hipster glasses and a big warm smile. As the only new student to enter the 7th grade this year, he was understandably nervous about how he would fit in. Not surprisingly, the community felt his positivity and welcomed him with open arms.

Juvel loves being at S2, a much smaller school than he came from, and one that has "higher standards and clearer expectations" than his old school. Since joining S2, Juvel says he has "become less negative and fearful, and more respectful". His parents stress the importance of respect at home, and he is glad that those values are upheld in school. He is gratified that every day he feels he is truly learning.

Juvel loves Math and Basketball and hopes to pursue both in high school and college. Recently in Voice class, they completed a personality assessment to determine careers paths worth considering. Being both personable and good at math, Juvel was glad to find Finance, Sales and Marketing on his list. He has already started learning some tricks of the trade by helping his parents with their family business. Juvel is a shining member of our community and we know he has a bright future ahead of him.
“The school has a warm heartbeat with children and teachers working head to head and hand in hand to move forward together. So many things impressed me, big and small, the calm, the volume and tone of teachers’ voices, the desk configurations, the lighting, the tools of learning, the scheduling, the curriculum. Though many of the students have a long way to go, there is optimism and a plan. I applaud your vision and the reality you have brought to your students and their families.”

-An educator and friend of S2
You can help us make a difference in the lives of countless children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to thrive. For more information or to make a donation:
School in the Square | 718.916.7683 |  schoolinthesquare.org