PTA MEETING NOVEMBER 22, 2010
PTA President Alison Bowers made the following announcements: 1) PTA Dues: A dues letter was sent out in September, but the response rate has only been 23%. We desperately need your dues as they provide support for special programs and mini grants for the teachers. Another letter will be sent out soon. 2) Please check the Inclusions website, Inclusions.org, frequently for the latest updates. If you have content or ideas for the website, please submit them to Kelly Anderson and Dawn McEvoy (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com). 3) Class Parents are getting the raffle baskets prepared for the Winterfest. There are many interesting and fun themes. 4) There will be a movie night for 4th graders on December 3. There will be a 5th grade movie night on January 21. During both events, parents of these two classes can buy food and drinks in the bingo room. 5) Ruth Anne Gersten announced the Best in Class fundraiser http://www.bestinclassforps372.com in which (mostly) local retailers will donate 5-40% of purchases to our school. Please check out the website.
Principal’s Report: Artie Mattia addressed the following issues: 1) The scaffolding is to be disassembled starting on -Friday, November 26. 2) Parent-Teacher conferences went well, even if there wasn’t a lot of time to meet. Please make an appointment with your teachers if you need more time to talk about your child. 3) Artie thanked Ellen Simpao for speaking to the reporter during the NY1 interview, even though that portion was not aired. 4) The School Leadership Team (SLT) is revisiting the possibility of opening a middle school by fall 2012. Artie has e-mailed the superintendent about this. 5) On behalf of Cathy Sarno and Rosa Amato, Artie wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and noted that he has a lot to be thankful for. The students are learning and flourishing, our school is ranked #3 in the city, and he has a great staff and parent body that is supportive.
United Federation of Teachers Report: Marybeth Carroll, UFT Delegate and Reading Specialist, discussed the UFT’s position on choosing the new chancellor. The UFT is contesting the process in which Mayor Bloomberg chose his candidate, Catherine Black. The UFT feels that the candidate should be vetted and that since NYC has the largest school system in the nation, that they should have a say in who is chosen. At the time of writing, Ms. Black is seeking a waiver to be hired into the position, because she has no educational experience. This same type of waiver was given to our former chancellor, Joe Klein. His appointment was not opposed because he came in with Carmen Farina, a well-respected educator, as his second in command. However, Ms. Farina soon resigned. The UFT feels that running an educational setting is not the same as running a business. You cannot fire students and emphasizing testing scores is a short-sighted way to make assessments. The chancellor needs to have managerial experience and an understanding of child development and of learning. Several questions were asked: 1) What is the NYC school budget? Marybeth was not sure, but she believes that a large percent, approximately 25%, of the NYC budget is dedicated for the Department of Education. 2) What is the union’s position on Ms. Black? The union is not saying that they do not want her. They oppose the process by which the mayor chose her. It will be up to David Steiner, the Commissioner of Education, to decide if she’ll be given a waiver. 3) Allison mentioned that when the SLT met, there was unanimous support for the UFT’s opposition. Parents can voice their opinion by contacting the Mr. Steiner. 4) Is the UFT proposing an alternate candidate? Marybeth says that they are voting for a resolution for a better process, not proposing a different candidate. Marybeth also discussed the Teacher Data Review, which is a way of assessing teachers. However, it is a flawed measure, with a 61% margin of error. Also, in the 4th and 5th grade, students are grouped according to math skill and assigned to work with teachers that are not always their homeroom teacher. Hence, teachers are being judged for students that they don’t directly work with. The mayor wasn’t supposed to publish the Teacher Data Review but did. The UFT got an injunction to suspend the publication. Steve Quester wrote on article on the Teacher Data Review that is on the Inclusions website.
Presentation by Sandi Stratton Gonzalez, Arts Committee Chairperson and Dance Specialist. Sandi works with every child in the school. The goal of the arts department is to nurture the children’s creative self by helping them express and represent their experiences, feelings, and knowledge. The arts staff does this while fulfilling DOE requirements (1st to 3rd grade have to have 186 hours per year of art instruction, 4th to 6th grade have 93 hours). Rubrics for assessment are based on five learning stands: art making, literacy in the arts, making connections, community and cultural resources, and careers and lifelong learning. There are three parts to the arts program: Sequential Instruction, Cultural Partnerships, and Enrichment Programs in the Arts.
Sequential Instruction includes the following:
• Visual Arts – taught by Marina Pavlutskaya and Darlene Vanasco. They teach units including printmaking, mixed media collage, paper tile mosaics, Matisse-inspired collages, watercolors, abstract expressionism, and architecture.
• Dance – taught by Sandi. This is a creative dance program in which, from a young age, children learn about the elements of dance and create their own dances. Units of instruction include My Body in Space, Feelings and Body Language, Telling a Story Through Dance, Folkloric Dance Forms, and Jazz. In the 5th grade, students see “Revelations” by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and then make their own choreography.
• Music – taught by Mr. Michael O’Neill. Instructional units include Rhythm of Text, Silly Songs, Percussion, The Instruments of Orchestra, Music Literacy, and Composition. In grade 4, students write compositions for resonantor bells (8-tone bells) and then teach it to a friend. Fourth grade is also taught how to play the recorder.
Cultural Partnerships occur in every grade. These include:
• Manhattan New Music Project (MNMP) which works with the pre-k, helps the kindergarten create an original fairy tale, and develops an opera with each 1st grade class. Dan Ashkenazi is the main teacher.
• Center for Architecture, 2nd grade
• MNMP works with the 3rd grade to create a setting and a story line for a character living in Mexico.
• The Metropolitan Opera Guild helps the 4th grade create a full-blown opera. The students take on roles such as stage managers, script writers, set designers, production, and actors.
• Arts Connection, 5th grade, in which they develop a photo project.
• The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, who provide dance and music instruction for the children with autism in our unit at MS 113.
• Other partnerships include grades K thru 2 going to the New Victory Theatre, classes 2-2 and 3-2 take modern dance with the Mark Morris Company, and 4th graders take class with the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers and attend their concert.
Enrichment Programs in the Arts are activities that provide the opportunity to study the arts at an advanced level. These include:
• Lunch clubs such as chorus (grades 2 – 5), mosaics, murals, book making, and dance (4th and 5th grade). Children have to agree to give up their recess to attend.
• Art Studios: this is a mandated elective in which students rank order their preferences. Not everyone gets their first choice, but most are happy with what they are assigned. It is felt that this is a good preparation for middle school because students are often asked to choose a “talent” and to live with their decision. Art Studios offers hip hop, improve theatre, percussion, advanced math, team sports, crochet, i-movie, mosaics, and a lot of other choices. There is a studio celebration in February.
• After School Add-ons. Students pay to take classes in the arts such as ceramics, comic book drawing, and cooking, just to name a few.
• Dance and Film: 5th grade. Ms. Sandi works with 12 students in a homeroom from September till January to develop a dance. The other 12 work with Mr. Michael and Mr. Doug to make their own movies, and a DVD is produced at the end of the sequence. From February till June, the students switch and work on the other subject.
There are several ways in which the PS 372 celebrates our students’ work and builds community. This includes the Winterfest in which each grade sings a holiday song, the Studio Celebration in February, 1st and 4th grade operas, Arts Day, and the kindergarten fairy tale.
The arts budget is about $65,000. Some funding is obtained through grants (e.g. funding for a new program called Everyday Arts in Special Education at MS 113 is provided for by the U.S. department of Education; the Park Slope Civic Council gave $500 toward drums), but a bulk of the funding is from the DOE’s budget. About $75 million is earmarked toward the arts, averaging $65 per child in the NYC school system. The portion that our school receives has been co-mingled with the principal’s budget but Artie has been faithful about dedicating that money towards the arts. Sandi also mentioned that the PTA contributes $12K (however, the PTA actually provided $19,945 for Arts programming which accounts for 1/3 of all the PTA enrichment spending).
If you are interested, please get involved with the Arts Committee, which is composed of art specialists, classroom teachers, and administrators. They meet every other month and the next meeting is on Thursday, December 9 at 3:20 at the 2nd Floor of the rec building.
Submitted by Ellen Simpao, Co-Recording Secretary