District 19 Newsletter

February 2021

Message from Superintendent

Dr. Thomas McBryde Jr.

I, Too- by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.


I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”



They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

This poem by Langston Hughes rings true to the current reality of Black America today. Black people still find themselves pushed to the back fighting for justice, equality, to be seen, respected and heard, and more importantly to be treated with humanity. There is still the lingering hope that one day black people will be recognized and simply allowed to be. The contributions of black people in America cannot be challenged or contested. There are significant examples of black excellence in leadership, entertainment, innovation, politics, science/medicine, sports, education and every field. Black people have thrived and excelled despite the barriers constantly placed in front of them; barriers of racism, segregation, poverty, police brutality, disenfranchisement, and micro and macro aggressions. During this month, we celebrate Black History and honor and celebrate the unconquerable spirit of a people who have consistently overcome and risen.

“We stand on the shoulder of giants” is a statement that acknowledges the legacy of greatness that has been established by our forefathers and charges us to continue creating and representing excellence. The heavens rejoiced and all of our ancestors wept with joy when America inaugurated its first Black President (Barack Obama) and now First Black Female Vice-President (Kamala Harris) because it represented payment, validation and atonement for all of the sacrifices, suffering, degradation and denials of all of the greats who came before them. As a culture we continue to RISE, in spite of, as evidenced by our present generation of leaders and trailblazers who are extending this legacy, such as: Serena Williams, Jay- Z, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Rev. Raphael Warnock, Stacey Abrams and Amanda Gorman who show us that, “There is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

So, although America still has debt that is owed and the demand for its collection payment is ever present as seen through the marches, protests and rallying for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, the indomitable spirit of black people still rises, never to be broken. Yes, America should be ashamed for not embracing, affirming and celebrating the beauty that is black. Whether they ever chose to see it or not; it is there, and shines through the faces of all of the young scholars and the community of District 19 in East New York Brooklyn that is excellence.

Message from Deputy Superintendent

Dr. Tamra S. Collins

February is the month in which we celebrate over 400 years of black history, and we honor the amazing contributions and accomplishments that Black people have made to this country. Black History Month is also a time for all people to recognize the struggle that Black people face as we continue to fight for racial justice. Even as we speak, the struggle continues as we witnessed the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Yet, in spite of our continued struggles, we saw the rise of the first Black female Vice President, Georgia’s first black Senator, the fight to ensure voters’ rights, and so much more. “You may write me down in history, with your bitter, twisted lies, you may tread me in the very dirt…But still, like dust, I'll rise” ~ Maya Angelou

As I watched the District 19 Black History Month Celebration, I was inspired by the resilience of our students and staff to shine in the face of the obstacles that this pandemic has presented. “Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear…I rise…Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave…I am the dream and the hope of the slave…I rise.” ~ Maya Angelou There is excellence in East New York. Our students are examples of perseverance, brilliance, and optimism. They showed up and showed out… And still they rise.

In spite of our defeats, challenges, and roadblocks, just like those before us, we still and must rise. Angela Duckworth shares, “To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise [on the] eight.” My charge to you is simple… Stand with dignity and be proud of who you are, be bold in the face of opposition, and refuse to stay broken... because we will always Rise!

Thank you to all for making this year’s BHM celebration awesome!!!

In honor of Black History Month, District 19 schools engaged in several celebrations to honor the contributions Black people have made to the world. While many schools held individual programs and activities throughout the month, the District came together on February 25th to celebrate in an event entitled, “Still. I RISE!”. The show featured our amazing scholars demonstrating their talents in the visual arts, dance, song, spoken word and so much more as they took us on a journey through six pivotal eras in which the Black community persevered: African-Americans prior to Slavery, Slavery/Reconstruction, Renaissance of Arts and Literature, Civil Rights Movement/Black Power, Breaking Barriers, and Celebrating our Now. It was an emotional rollercoaster of an evening that solidified that our scholars are phenomenal and represent nothing short of excellence! As a community, we smiled, sang, cried and experienced goosebumps together on D19's journey through Black History. Major kudos to everyone involved in making the show a success!

District 19 GEM

February Convening

At this month’s convening, our GEMs continued to Dream Big! The February Convening was like no other; District 19’s “Sheroes” Event was so inspirational for all of our GEM girls. It was a day where our girls got to speak to strong women who have accomplished their Dreams!

We kicked off the convening with affirmations from our GEM girls and mentors. Not only did the girls share what their affirmations were, they also shared what they wanted to become. Their future looks Bright! Shout out to District 19’s Assistant Principal Janice McLean, who gave a motivational speech encouraging our girls to never give up on their dreams.

Our “Sheroes” then met our GEMs to tell their stories, answer questions, and share their authentic experiences and journeys from where they started to where they are shining in their respective industries now. We were able to enhance our GEM Girls' knowledge of varied careers that they are interested in and share lessons learned throughout the years of our "Sheroes" pursuing their dreams.

District 19 MBK

February Convening

This month, D19 MBK honored Black History Month by opening with an icebreaker centered on identifying which Black historical figure we each identified most with, sharing what our “Dreams Like Martin” are, and a Black History Month Escape Room for the young men to engage in asynchronously after the convening.

Mr. Phillips and Mentee Dayshawn Brooks from P.S. 202K co-hosted this month’s Convening focused on “Using Your Voice As A Weapon”. As we continue working on our school-based research projects to strategically advocate for issues of social justice in East New York, our young men engaged in a very competitive fact vs. opinion game designed to highlight the importance of grounding their advocacy in truths; shout out to Detwane Williams from Legacy School of the Arts for winning a prize D19 hoodie! The young men also watched a brief video about the “Shut Up And Dribble” controversy and connected how athletes used their voice to strategically advocate for social justice issues in the Black Lives Matter movement in a whole-group discussion.

A huge shout out and acknowledgement to Dayshawn Brooks (pictured below) who led our district in a powerful Moment of Mindfulness and Affirmation, and exemplified what it means to be part of the D19 MBK Clan!

In celebration of Black History Month, our principals identified Black Leaders from the past and present who resonate with them today and shared why, noting their excellence, inspiration, innovation and leadership.

This month, principals continued strengthening the work around progress monitoring. Dr. McBryde modeled and shared the district level progress monitoring tracker, supporting leaders with the development and refinement of having a process and structure in place for organizational improvement to assess school goals. Principals were charged to examine and assess their progress monitoring tools to support meeting CEP and school identified goals.

In deepening the learning around Adaptive Leadership, principals read an article and engaged in breakout groups to identify adaptive leadership practices that will support them to create and assess holding patterns to support staff in meeting and driving identified goals.

The following quote captured the work of finding the Perfect Temperature to ensure excellence and attainment of goals, “Keep your hand on the thermostat. If the heat’s too low, people won’t make difficult decisions. If it’s too high, they might panic.”

In celebration of Black History Month our assistant principals reflected on “great leaders” that come to mind when thinking about leadership. The APs identified Black Leaders from the past and present who resonate with them, sharing what makes them “great”.

This month, strengthening the work around Emotional Intelligent Leadership, Dr. Collins engaged our APs in practices to build their capacity to effectively manage relationships in order to support staff through discomfort and challenges.

Additionally, as we keep student engagement at the heart of the work, APs examined and worked to norm our understanding of student engagement aligned to Rigor, Routines, Relevance, Relationships and Resources, and bridge the gap between social and emotional learning practices in order to strengthen instruction in both in-person and remote classrooms.

Putting theory to practice, our APs engaged in a consultancy protocol with their colleagues to push thinking around a problem of practice that fosters improved leadership practices (EQ) and creates structures for new learning that impact student achievement.

APs were left with Food for Thought:

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

This month, Teacher Leaders (TLs) engaged in professional learning sessions with Great Minds’ consultants Meghan Barrios from Eureka Math and Ashley Cook from Wit & Wisdom. In both sessions, TLs focused on how to customize lessons by leaning into and honoring our shared curricula’s components. TLs engaged in breakout rooms and specific strategies, such as a Question the Author protocol and modified Lesson Study that they can implement and turnkey to their school communities. TLs also engaged in reading and unpacking research around factors that contribute to successful collaboration: Vision and Leadership, Time, Alignment and Accountability, Clear Team Goals and Protocols, Facilitation Support, Collaboration Skills and Commitment to Collective Responsibility. They shared best practices that are already living in their school communities in a “Give One, Get One” protocol as it relates to these factors. These factors framed a preview of the skills that TLs will highlight when we begin engaging in inter-visitations in the coming months.

District 19's Parent Coordinator February PD focused on how parent empowerment aligns with the vision and mission of the NYC Department of Education. Parent Coordinators reviewed the NYC DOE organizational structures, Framework for Great Schools, C.E.P. and parent leadership structures. The next Parent Coordinator PD will be on Monday, March 8.

D19 was awarded $25,000 from WE Charity as a part of a Trauma-Informed Practice Grant. Guidance counselors received professional development from WE Charity on trauma-informed practices as a part of our District SEL Professional Development. The emphasis was on the impact of the pandemic on Grief and Bereavement, Identifying Trauma and Stress Traits, and Teaching Self-Care.

Guidance counselors added specific trauma-informed practices/strategies to their toolbox to implement with students and school communities in an effort to decrease the negative impact of the pandemic's stressors. Assisting students in creating “Emotional First-Aid Kits” was one of the most well received strategies guidance counselors plan to implement.

The grant included training for 25% of each school's staff. Additional dates will be forthcoming to provide this professional development opportunity to parent coordinators, school culture committee members, school aides, administration, SLT, teachers and paraprofessionals.


P.S. 149K

“She was unstoppable, not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.” - Beau Taplin

This year has been uniquely challenging for our students, families/caregivers and staff. Throughout these difficult times, my staff, family and community partners have found creative and safe ways to support each other. My love and respect for my school community drives my decisions and actions. I encourage my students and staff every day to push the limits of their skills and creativity; I am confident in our collective will and our ability to do so. Danny Kaye P.S. 149 scholars and staff have learned to be courageous in our journey toward excellence, for we know that “courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”



“Without struggle, there is no progress." - Frederick Douglass

Our theme this month is "Still I Rise", which is ever so fitting during these recent times. "Still I Rise" is an empowering poem about the struggle to overcome prejudice and injustice. It is also an anthem of hope and resilience.

This year alone, we have shown District 19 the embodiment of Maya Angelou’s poem. We have struggled through a pandemic and witnessed the murder of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests and civil unrest. All of these events have had an effect on us, our students and our community as whole.

However, the District 19 community has remained strong during these challenging times. Your efforts to bring hope and resilience to our children are clear through your schools' social media posts and during our AP discussions. We have demonstrated that we can adapt to new technology, programs and Covid regulations, even when given little-to-no planning time. We were not afraid to discuss prejudice and injustice, and address the concerns that affect the Black and Brown communities that we serve. Despite a global pandemic, we strove to provide our students with the quality education they deserve.

Yes, we have struggled! But amidst our struggles, we have made PROGRESS. This is the true mark of a leader. As APs, we rose to the occasion and provided support to our principals and provided guidance to each of our school communities.

Like a phoenix, we must continue to rise and be a beacon of hope to the next generation. But we must remember to take care of ourselves so that we can continue to be the tether that connects the school to the community.

So, as we move into what is hopefully the final phase of this school year, think of each day in reference to a rose as you pause, reflect and prepare for growth.

Rose: Try to find at least one highlight, success or positive notion from the day even if it seems trivial or silly.

Thorn: Limit yourself to one challenge from the day that can be learned from. It might seem that we are overwhelmed by the negatives of the day, so it is important to focus on something that could be changed or you need support with rather than something out of your control.

Bud: New ideas or something you’re looking forward to knowing or understanding more.

Look at your ROSE in the mirror each day. Take a deep breath and plan to be even better tomorrow.


P.S. 108K

If you asked staff how they would describe this school year, many would say things such as stressful, frightening, overwhelming, etc. I look at this school year as a year of change and an opportunity for growth. We have been pushed to think outside the box and work outside of our comfort zones. I have seen how teachers have learned to use technology to run their classrooms and parents have stepped up and become teachers for their children. It has even pushed me to rethink my way of connecting to the families of P.S. 108K. I encourage everyone to use this time to step outside of their comfort zones and find those hidden talents and abilities that you did not realize you have. In those moments when you feel discouraged, think of this quote from Peter Marshall, “When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks are grown in strong contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” We all will rise out of this stronger than we entered.


P.S. 273K

Becoming a teacher was not an overnight decision. As a child, being a part of a four sibling group, our choice to play school was often the major part of playtime. However, teaching in a remote environment did not cross my mind. With this so called “New Normal” where children are learning at home, it gave me several thoughts to make this work. We take for granted that all adults or parents know how to read and write, but that’s not true. I take educating a child seriously because we’re shaping a culture of tomorrow. Knowing that we live in a diverse environment, my teaching has to reflect the group of children I have for each ten-month period. My teaching, energy, decisions, purpose and pedagogy has to reflect positive influences in my scholars and their caregivers. This is my greatest reward as a teacher. None of us asked for this pandemic, so let’s make lemonade with the lemons we were given and encourage our scholars of tomorrow, today. Give them the tools of living, love, confidence, motivation and purpose for them to explore and accomplish their dreams. I live by the good old adage: “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child!” Let each new day begin with a purpose of children in mind.

D19 Community wellness check-in

This month’s Community Wellness Check-In began with a Moment of Mindfulness led by Vista Academy’s Lashae Baugh. School Mental Health Consultant Yasmin Potts-Thomas led a Community Mental Health Conversation in which she answered questions about the impact of the pandemic on the social-emotional wellbeing of our scholars and families. She took questions from participants and encouraged them to be vulnerable in sharing how this year has impacted their lives and the way they respond to it. It was uplifting and invigorating to hear our community come together to support, affirm and acknowledge our resilience and commitment to each other during this difficult time. It is imperative that we provide the space and opportunities for our scholars, families and staff to know that while we may be socially distant due to the pandemic, we are still connected in so many ways. The words of Maya Angelou, “And Still I Rise” were displayed to conclude our Community Acknowledgements where members gave flowers (shout outs) to each other for various acts throughout the month.

District 19 Brooklyn Basics' schools participated in trainings focused on the Overview of the Basics on February 9th and Talking about the Basics to Families on February 23rd. The participants discussed literary research and engaged in role play and group work. The final Brooklyn Basics training is on Tuesday, March 2nd. On February 10th, the Community Partnership meeting was held. Organizations learned about Brooklyn Basics and how they can support the initiative. Partnerships include CAMBA, New York Psychotherapy and Counseling Center (NYPCC), D19 Community School Directors, D19 School Mental Health Specialists, Literacy Inc., East NY Reads, D19's Division of Early Childhood: Teaching and Learning Team, D19 Early Childhood Social Workers, D19's Mental Health & Wellness Administrator and True Care Solutions.

District 19 has been on FIRE applying for grants, especially in the last two weeks!

Two-thirds of our district has attended our grant workshops and applied for the $175,000 Hydroponics Labs, $235,000 STEM Labs and $500,000 Computer Technology Labs! Growing food, Coding, Robotics, Drones, STEM Labs, Literacy Labs, Virtual Reality Equipment and Laptops were just a few of the technology requested. Additionally, various Smart boards, Promethean boards, Chromebooks, iPads and tech needs were also in demand.

After-school grants have also been highly sought after. Schools attended our grant meeting for after-school options to hear about the opportunities available. Principals were excited that performance arts, music, robotics and martial arts were a few of the potential offerings. Various agencies have expressed interest in writing after-school grants on behalf of D19 schools. Please reach out if you are interested in additional grant opportunities. If you would like to have your grant writer join our D19 grant writing team, please contact Kimberly Chance, Kchance@schools.nyc.gov, for upcoming meeting dates.

Upcoming Dates

March 2 - CEC Meeting

March 24 - Community Wellness Check-In

March 26 - MBK & GEM Convenings

March 29 - April 2 - Spring Break (No School)