City School District of New Rochelle

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Next Town Hall Will Focus on Programs and Resources
The next New Rochelle Board of Education Town Hall meeting, "Prioritizing Resources for Quality Programming," will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 22 in the Linda E. Kelly Theater of New Rochelle High School.

The session will focus on quality instructional programming and the resources needed to sustain them. The panel will consist of both middle school principals - John Barnes and Anthony Bongo - two elementary school principals, Board President Jeffrey Hastie and Vice President Amy Moselhi.

The theater is near the high school's Braemar Avenue entrance off North Avenue. Spanish translation will be provided and the meeting will be streamed live at

Participants may submit questions in advance to Public Information Officer Ken Valenti at

Restorative Practices Workshop Draws 30 Parents, Educators
More than 30 parents and educators attended a workshop on Restorative Practices led by Dr. Susan Villani of the Center for Education Equity, in New Rochelle High School on Monday.

Guided by Dr. Villani, participants formed groups to discuss the topic, which is an approach to addressing challenging behavior by building a sense of community among students with strategies such as community circles. After talking about it, participants listed the benefits they saw from the approach, including building relationships, restoring a sense of community and fostering a sense of collective ownership.

Dr. Villani's presentation included a video showing how restorative practices are used in Wake County, North Carolina.

"This is a fantastic tool to help ground the students," parent Peter Cantone said after the presentation. "It can reduce conflict, help them gain self-confidence and self-awareness and even build a camaraderie with each other."
Board of Education Meeting Notes
Here are some highlights from the Tuesday, Jan. 8 Board of Education meeting at New Rochelle High School's Whitney M. Young Auditorium. To watch a video of the meeting, click here

Amy Goodman, Interim Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, gave a presentation titled "Reducing Chronic Absenteeism," where she explained the importance of attendance in school. 

New Rochelle has a rate of 16 percent of students who are chronically absent, compared to the national average of 14 percent. Goodman provided breakdowns of rates by elementary, middle and high school and based on race/ethnicity and subgroups, such as students with disabilities, English language learners and economically disadvantaged students.

Goodman explained that chronic absenteeism is consequential. Missing just an average of 18 days, or two or more days a month, is considered chronic absenteeism. In every grade and at every level, chronic absenteeism affects reading proficiency, math levels and social and emotional skills. She provided data that showed a correlation between ninth grade attendance and on-time graduation from high school.

The district is examining data for root causes to provide appropriate interventions.

INTERIM NAMED FOR BUSINESS OFFICE: A familiar face is coming back to the City School District of New Rochelle. Thomas J. Ryan, the District's Assistant Superintendent for Business from 2000 to 2007, is returning to serve as Interim Assistant Superintendent for Business and Administration.

The Board of Education on Tuesday approved the hiring of Ryan. Ryan has a vast amount of experience, including positions as Vice President for Finance and Corporate Treasurer for Manhattan College, Assistant Superintendent for Business at Lakeland Central School District, Director of Finance at Rockland Community College, and Assistant Business Manager at Lakeland and the Chappaqua Central School District. He is currently the Vice President of T&K Ryan, LLC in Brewster, where he manages all business and financial operations for the consulting firm.

MY BROTHER'S KEEPER: The Board approved increasing its contribution to the city's chapter of My Brother's Keeper by $20,000 to $40,000 for the current calendar year. MBK is a White House-sponsored initiative designed to allow boys and young men of color reach their potential in life.
Sports Schedule
For upcoming New Rochelle athletic competitions, check out*

* This link connects to an outside website
Dates to Remember
Saturday, January 12:
Chess Tournament, Webster

Monday, January 14:
PTAC Meeting, Room 222, NRHS,
7 p.m.

Monday, January 14:
SEPTA General Meeting, Library, NRHS, 7:30 p.m.

Monday-Friday, January 14-18:
Winter Spirit Week (in support of winter sports), NRHS

Tuesday, January 15:
PTA Meeting, Davis

Wednesday, January 16:
Grade 6 Winter Concert - Chorus, IEYMS, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, January 16:
PTA Meeting, ALMS, 7 p.m.

Thursday, January 17:
PTSA Course Selection Overview, Linda Kelly Theater, NRHS, 7 p.m.

Thursday, January 17:
Coffee with the Principal, Webster,
8:30 p.m.

Friday, January 18:
Barnard Magnet/UPK Deadline to City Hall, 4:30 p.m.

Friday, January 18:
PTA Movie Night, Barnard, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, January 18:
PTA Meeting, Columbus

Friday, January 18:
Popcorn Friday, Ward

Jolene Russo discusses the poem "Incident" with her 11th-grade class.
NRHS Students Learn Impacts
of Words and Signs of Hate

Students at New Rochelle High School this week worked at developing a stronger appreciation for all by discussing the words and signs that hurt and offend.

On Wednesday, social studies classes taught a lesson on the "symbols of hate." Today, in English classes, the students discussed "words of hate." Students were grateful for the opportunity to talk about an issue that affects everyone.

"It's normal to feel uncomfortable, but you have to talk about it to find a solution," said senior Ashley Torres after taking the lesson in the class of Lydia Adegbola, the English department chairperson.

Torres and her classmates discussed ethnic slurs, as well as the First Amendment right to free speech. Several said they know it is important to be careful with their words, regardless of the fact that offensive phrases may not be prohibited by law.

"You can see that the students want to discuss this topic," Adegbola said. "They can feel comfortable talking about it in class because the teachers create the atmosphere of acceptance."

The lessons grew out of an incident in November when a swastika was found scratched into the plastic door of a bathroom stall in the boys' locker room at the school. The discovery rattled many in the community.

It was one of several symbols studied in the social studies classes on Wednesday. Students analyzed and discussed how symbols can make people feel, especially those in the group targeted.

"The vast majority of our New Rochelle High School students are wonderful, responsible young adults," said Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey. "But in a district that benefits so much from its incredible diversity, it is especially important for everyone to deeply understand the words and symbols that can be painful to others, and to empathize with people from all backgrounds."

The District worked with the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center in White Plains, which has long partnered with the District on programs. The center offered suggestions for a curriculum that teachers adapted to their classrooms. In one 11th-grade English class, teacher Jolene Russo discussed the poem "Incident" by Countee Cullen, in which a black child visiting Baltimore is called a racial slur by a white child.

Russo posed the question whether the incident described would change depending on whether the boy who uttered the slur realized its impact or not. Drawing a parallel to the motive of whoever etched the swastika, Russo said; "What we're seeing here is words have power, whether or not they were intended to be hurtful."
Students Log 2 Million Minutes in Ward Read-A-Thon
When the month-long read-a-thon at William B. Ward Elementary School had finished, the students had logged a whopping 2 million minutes devouring novels, picture books and non-fiction.

"Each of you read your hearts out," gushed kindergarten teacher Geri-Ann Lezi at a wrap-up celebration in the auditorium, where thumping music and volunteer parents waving shiny blue pom-poms filled the auditorium. "As a whole, Ward School read all those minutes - two million minutes! Great job!"  

Kindergarten teacher Angela D'Ambrosio also encouraged the students to "keep on reading" even though the read-a-thon was finished for this school year.  

The festivities were spread over three periods, in order to bring in students two grades at a time. Top readers were awarded prizes. During the read-a-thon, students read in class, when they got home from school and on weekends to log the minutes, enhancing their enjoyment of the written word.

"Sometimes when I read, I jump into the book and I take on an adventure," said first-grader Gloria Perlleshi.

Ward was the first school in the District to hold read-a-thons; they are now held by other schools as well. Students sought sponsors for their reading, and raised more than $50,000. The funds support field trips and other enrichment programs, and help to ensure that all children have access to books.

Teacher Genevieve Vaccariello, whose class won an award for the most minutes read in second grade, said, "In kindergarten and first grade, you are learning to read. From second and third grade on, you are reading to learn. It's so unbelievable the places you can go and the things you can find out by reading."
Special Olympics Team
Girls Swim Team
Special Olympics,
Swim Teams Honored by Board
The New Rochelle Board of Education gave framed commendations on Tuesday to both the New Rochelle Special Olympics team and the New Rochelle High School girls swim team.

Both teams have had great seasons.

The Special Olympics team, which has been part of the District for 20 years, has competed in soccer, basketball, floor hockey, volleyball and track and field. It participated in the Special Olympics Fall Festival Soccer Tournament in Beacon in October and placed second in its division. In December, the team played a mini-tournament against Mount Vernon and White Plains teams at Isaac E. Young Middle School, and the athletes were uplifted by the NRHS Varsity Boys Soccer team and others who came out to cheer for them.

"Everyone was rooting for the team," said Mary Monzon, whose son William is on the Special Olympics team. "They were holding up the signs that said 'Go New Ro!' They were waving and high-fiving the players. It was nice to see the support and the camaraderie."

In November, the team received a commendation from the New Rochelle City Council.

The swim team completed the regular season with a record of 8-0 and won the league championship meet. The 200 medley relay team broke a school record with a time of 1:56.70. The 200 freestyle relay team qualified for sectionals.

The commendations honored the students at the Board meeting in New Rochelle High School with the Board's "profound gratitude and appreciation for their faithful dedication, extraordinary, tireless and conscientious service." Board of Education President Jeffrey Hastie and Interim Superintendent Magda Parvey also provided each student of the two teams with an individual commendation during the presentation.
New Rochelle Fund Taking Educational Grant Applications
The New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence is once again taking applications for grants of up to $2,000 to support innovative learning projects that enhance the curriculum. It's the second round of funding offered in a program the organization began last year. The Fund is looking for applications from teachers, administrators, students and parents.

"They can propose anything that will promote active student learning, offer students an opportunity to find their voice and build their self-confidence," said Sabrina Toback, Executive Director of the Fund.

Applications can be for programs in the arts, sciences or any other area. Last year, the Fund gave out 15 grants to a wide range of projects, including a humanoid robot at Albert Leonard Middle School, a chess program at Isaac E. Young Middle School and a pollinator garden at Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center.

The Fund leaders are looking for that kind of creative thinking again. Applications are due Feb. 6 and awards will be announced in mid-March.