images of parents with their children
Dear Parents,

As summer break approaches, I want to thank you for helping to make this school year a great one. If you have a child graduating this year - whether from kindergarten, middle school, high school, or college - I want to extend heartfelt congratulations!

We have reached the end of the school year and the weather is getting warmer, which means our summer programs are getting underway! Some of our statewide summer programs include Summer Reading at New York Libraries, the Summer Food Service Program, and the Summer School of the Arts.

Summer Reading at New York Libraries is a free, annual program that gives you and your children the opportunity to access the vast resources of New York's public libraries to support summer reading. This year's summer reading program slogan is "Libraries Rock!" Children and teens participating in the program receive book recommendations and engage in creative and fun educational activities at their local libraries. Together, we can keep students reading and learning all summer long and help prevent summer slide.

This year, NYSED is partnering with myOn to bring digital books to you and your children via unlimited access to the myOn digital library at school and in your local public library. The myOn library has a collection of over 6,000 fiction and nonfiction e-books geared toward children from birth to 8th grade, many with recorded audio and other useful features.

The goal of the NYSED Summer Reading pilot partnership with myOn is to provide additional resources to keep children reading through the summer by providing them with an abundance of reading material, in school, through the public library, and on mobile devices through the myON mobile app. The myON pilot partnership will run from May through September. Be sure to check it out with your child and spend some time reading this summer!

In addition to the free Summer Reading program, free meals will be available this summer for children and teens across New York at more than 3,000 Summer Food Service Program sites. Each day, approximately 400,000 free meals will be served to children. You can use the interactive USDA online map to find a service site that will provide free meals for your child during the summer.

High quality summer meals provide daily energy and help make sure children are healthy and ready to learn when they return to school in the fall. We work closely with the USDA to administer this incredibly important program, to help make sure that our students don't go hungry during the summer.

Another great program, the 2018 New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA), begins this weekend! Over 400 students in grades 8-12 are enrolled in this year's program where they will study with some of the world's foremost artists in the visual and performing arts. NYSSSA is composed of seven component schools that will be held throughout the summer: Theatre, Ballet, Modern Dance, Orchestral Studies, Choral Studies, Visual Arts, and Media Arts. Each program culminates in a final public performance or exhibition that is free and open to the public.

We're proud to offer students the unique opportunity to study with accomplished artists and further their artistic skills through the Summer School of the Arts program. The education students receive helps them develop their artistic skill and discipline for not just the summer but for years to come as they pursue careers or further study in the arts. I encourage everyone to attend a public performance this summer and see these talented New York students in action.

Before closing, I want to mention the issue that has dominated the news this week, the Trump administration's family separation policy. There is nothing more important than the well-being of children. That is why earlier this week, Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and I issued a statement calling on our elected officials to stand up for families and children and act to end the administration's family separation policy. We will monitor this situation as it continues to evolve.

Thank you for all you have done to make this school year a success. I will continue to be in touch and provide updates in July and August. I hope you and your children have a wonderful summer.


MaryEllen Elia