District 19 Newsletter

March 2021

"Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced"

Message from Superintendent

Dr. Thomas McBryde Jr.

"Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women." - Maya Angelou

I am the man and leader I am today because of strong and amazing women who poured their love into me and supported me in my consistent development. So, it is a privilege to honor them during Women’s History Month and every day for their role in my journey and the world. We celebrate Women's History Month to remind ourselves of the accomplishments of women throughout the years to our culture and society. And that's actually, in many ways, one of the most important aspects of Women's History Month. By highlighting women who have made a difference in history, it opens up that world of possibilities to young girls. From science to politics, it is a chance to reflect on the trailblazing women who led and lead the way for change. Leaders, pioneers, innovators, caregivers and vanguards - women were essential to the founding of this nation and are essential on the path forward into the future.

Zora Neale Hurston, in my favorite book Their Eyes Were Watching God stated, “the black woman is the mule of the world.” She imparts the idea that they have been forced to carry the heavy loads and burdens that everyone else refuses to carry. The symbolism equates to how throughout time women have had to face inequity, marginalization, disenfranchisement, sexism and misogyny, yet still were required to wear the moniker of “Superwoman” and “Matriarch.” Presently, inequalities women face were laid bare by the coronavirus - from pay disparities, where statistics show women still make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, to domestic threats, as one in every three women will face gender violence in her lifetime. Despite the challenges women have had to face and endure, their unbound and valiant spirit refused to be silenced and sparked movements as they led from behind and in front.

Women are the strongest force on earth, and unless a man can birth a child, I think this is irrefutable. I have witnessed my mother, grandmothers, aunts and female friends work a long and full day, come home and take care of the family and everyone else’s needs (children, husband, family members), cook, clean and sacrifice without any time dedicated for themselves or complaints. This demonstrates their strength, intelligence, selflessness, care, detail orientation and genuine way of making things better that we revere and admire. As I sit here, I realize how I have benefitted from experiencing these qualities from women like Dr. Alexandra Estrella, Superintendent of Norwalk Connecticut, who taught me and shared everything she knew about the principalship and superintendency. Executive Superintendent of Queens South, Dr. Mauriciere DeGovia, who modeled high quality instructional leadership, and patterned and shaped my philosophy around instructional support and systems structures. Dr. Tamra Collins, Deputy Superintendent of District 19 and Ms. Irene Spence's knowledge of curriculum and instruction, program development and implementation, and mentorship of our young girls inspires me daily. And the women Principals of District 19's commitment, advocacy, detail orientation and love for our scholars motivates and pushes me to be a better leader.

There are countless women who have impacted my life that I can name who stand as examples of power, fearlessness, excellence and innovation that our young girls can look up to and emulate as the world is finally giving women, in the word of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, the “Respect” and honor they are due. It is only fitting that we bow to the Queens of the world as they take their place out front leading, and standing strong with their crowns appropriately fixed on their well-coiffed and immaculately done heads.

“Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men.” – Katherine Johnson, one of the first Black women to work as a NASA mathematician.

Message from Deputy Superintendent

Dr. Tamra S. Collins

The Power of Our Voice!! As women leaders, we are often told to “be polite” or we are talked over and dismissed in conversations. We are told that our voices lack authority, or our opinions and thoughts do not matter. Sometimes we are intimidated by those we think know more than us or have access to opportunities that we have not had. Therefore, we silence ourselves. “Speak up, you have something to say!” History has shown that a woman’s voice is undeniably powerful!!! Sojourner Truth who fought for suffrage and equality, Susan B. Anthony a lecturer and activist who played a significant role in the Women’s Suffrage Movement, Ida B. Wells who was a founding member of the NAACP and early civil rights leader who was not silent about exposing the terrorist act of lynching Blacks in America, Ruth Bader Ginsburg who used her Supreme Court seat to change the course of history, Audre Lorde who was a revolutionary poet and dedicated her creative talent to addressing the injustices of racism and sexism, Malala Yousafzai who continues to use her voice for female education and advocacy, House of Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez who speaks for the underrepresented and unheard voices, Stacey Abrams who became a “voice for Georgia and a voice for America”, and so many other strong and influential voices who are making a difference because they “speak up!”

As women leaders, I encourage you to find your voice…you have something of value to say. Our passion is the key…the way we speak about our ideas are just as important as the ideas themselves. Speak your truth. Your voice is a beautiful gift that comes with privilege and responsibility. We often allow fear and our own limitations to block out our light. Using your voice takes courage, and you have a right to use it! So, do not be afraid of what others think or who will get upset because it is at that exact moment that change happens. Be bold and audacious, listen to your inner voice – “Trust your gut, it is never wrong” - Oprah Winfrey – and most importantly “be you”. As women, we cannot afford to be silent and miss out on opportunities. There is so much at stake especially at the heart of the work we do for our children.

To my lady leaders, I encourage you to open your mouth and speak as my mom would say. I encourage you to support other women to use their voice and I encourage you to build the confidence of our girls so that they can use and understand the power of their voice.

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” ~ Madeline Albright (First Female Secretary of State)

District 19 GEM

March Convening

Living HER Dream! We celebrated the dreams of many powerful, intelligent, brave and strong women that came before us. Because those women had dreams it allowed us to have dreams of our own. Our GEMs had an opportunity to share their dreams, and also interview and receive advice from Modern Day Sheroes.

GEM Mentor Khristine Raymond blessed us with a live cello performance of Alicia Keys, Girl on Fire – and SHE was on Fire!

We learned from speaker Tamekia Flowers-Ball that it is okay to fail, but what is important is getting back up and trying again and learning from our failures and the women that have come before us.

Principal Marie Desforges poured into our GEMs as she spoke to her younger self. She shared her four “GEMS” with us: Perspective, Priority, Patience and Purpose!

Our mentors instilled in us that we need to find and use our VOICE - thank you for the beautiful video!

Principal Lisa Goodson inspired us through the power of SONG, along with her scholar Zaniyah – they taught us to DREAM BIG and RISE UP!

Our girls had an opportunity to take part in this experience and reflect, as they dream big and realize they are standing on the shoulders of the women that came before them. Both Dr. Collins and our host GEM Mentor Ms. Herbert shared – don't just reach the sky...fly through it!!

Lastly, a huge shout-out to our host GEM mentee and Vista Academy scholar, Miss. Marliza Campbell-Dorsey and her mentor Ms. Monica Kelly.

District 19 MBK

February Convening

This month’s Convening, “The Other Side of the Argument”, was hosted by Van Siclen Community Middle School, P.S. 65K and East New York Elementary School of Excellence’s MBK Programs. We began with our traditional Moment of Mindfulness and Affirmations led by Mentee Jaden Paynter from VSC.

The Convening focused on the young men continuing to build their strategic advocacy projects by identifying an argument that someone who is against their advocacy would use and developing a counter argument for that. The young men practiced these skills through creating the D19 MBK Mount Rushmore of NBA, where they teamed up to debate which NBA players should appear on the Mount Rushmore of NBA.

In addition, we honored Women’s History Month by identifying 28 influential black women and having a discussion around the importance of men being advocates for women equality. The young men also engaged in a fun women’s advocacy Quizzizz Activity, where they were able to identify advocacy positions in support of women's rights.

We also have identified 28 students from 4 D19 Middle Schools (19K452, 654, 663, and 907) to engage in our pilot MBK Junior Fellows Program. They will be partnered with 3 High School Fellows from Brooklyn North High Schools where they will engage in after-school mentoring and brotherhood surrounding team building, high school awareness and readiness, building out their strategic advocacy projects, developing healthy reading habits and self-awareness.

Principals were welcomed into the March Conference on March 16 to the tune of “I’m Every Woman” by Whitney Houston in honor of Women’s History Month.

This month’s conference focused on Data and the role that it plays in progress monitoring work streams, in connection to last month’s focus on Progress Monitoring. Dr. McBryde and Principal Espada role played a data talk emphasizing the importance of being granular and concrete when deciphering what the data is saying in order to appropriately substantiate work streams.

Principals then engaged in an overview analysis of our shared District Interim Assessment #1 results in breakout rooms. Using the ATLAS – Looking at Data Protocol, they were able to describe and interpret the results, and then discuss the implications for teaching and learning as it relates to our shared Great Minds’ ELA and Math curricula. We had a rich discussion and debrief where each breakout room was able to share the variety of perspectives and concrete structures/strategies that schools will implement to address and move the data.

Principals spent the afternoon in their Professional Learning Communities focused on shared Problems of Practice.

This month’s AP Conference kicked off with the introduction song to Madam Vice President Kamala Harris’ acceptance speech, “Work That” by Mary J. Blige.

APs were able to connect previous months’ professional learning on the 5 R’s (Relevance, Rigor, Routines, Relationships, and Resources) to concrete practices and strategies that support student engagement. Shout out to Dr. Audrey Fowler who led a presentation on how the leadership at The Fresh Creek School was able to seamlessly adapt and transition best practices from Brick & Mortar to the virtual learning environment to impact instruction and student performance. She presented the leadership moves that have taken place to build school-wide coherence and clarity on how the school has used the Instructional Focus, Teacher Observations, Snapshot Assessments, Teacher Feedback and Professional Learning to increase student achievement.

APs also engaged in a deep dive of District Interim Assessment #1 results. In breakout rooms, APs used the assessment questions and district-wide curricular roadmaps to identify concrete next steps and implications for their personal work to address the data.

This month, Math Teacher Leaders attended the Using Exit Tickets to Inform Instruction – Leader PD with Great Minds’ Meghan Barrios. The session modeled how to identify criteria for success within an exit ticket prior to teaching a lesson to identify potential misconceptions and to ensure that all of the criteria within the exit ticket are covered prior to assessing students’ level of understanding. A template was shared for TLs to take back to their school and implement into teacher practice to sort exit tickets and use student strengths and misconceptions to create a plan of action. Three curricular best practices were shared for creating a plan of action: targeted fluency practice, highlight or emphasize in the next lesson(s) and small group remediation. TLs are focused on using evidence from student exit tickets when creating specific plans of action.

We were very excited to have our ELA Teacher Leaders begin their inter-visitations to support lesson customizations. Ms. Burns-Hopkins (K149), Ms. Higuera (K108), Ms. Neglia (K290) and Ms. Ward (K452) all hosted pre-recorded video visits to classrooms at their schools. TLs spent some time engaging in a pre-observation focused on the Host School presenting a Problem of Practice and answering Clarifying and Probing Questions from the group. They then watched a 20 minute pre-recorded video of an ELA Wit & Wisdom lesson to capture low-inference evidence of teacher practice and student performance. After, TLs debriefed the lesson through a coaching lens, focused on Praises and Pushes, specifically as it pertains to lesson customizations and scripting coaching questions to support the teacher in implementing next steps. This inter-visitation process truly highlighted the power of shared curricula and the common understanding that we have as a District in Year 2 Implementation of Great Minds’ curricula. Feedback from TLs included, “it was reaffirming to see that we are all in the same boat, moving in the same direction," "it was nice to hear how other TLs are coaching to support remote teaching," and "I now see the benefits of using Nearpod based on the observed lessons."

District 19 Parent Coordinators’ March PD focused on equity in parent empowerment. Parent Coordinators viewed the Equity and Excellence agenda and aligned it with current parent empowerment practices. The district’s NYCSA data was reviewed and Parent Coordinators collaborated on methods to increasing school rates. The next Parent Coordinator PD will be on Monday, April 5, 2021.

The Blended Literacy Initiative Learning Team Meetings occur monthly to guide each school's learning team members through a structured cycle of collaborative inquiry, examining literacy assessments for foundational skills area/s of need and developing plans for foundational skills learning and instruction in response to data.

  • BLI Learning Team Meetings engage learning team members in key protocols and processes for each stage of the learning team cycle. Meetings act in complement to the foundational skills content learning of the BLI Content PD Sessions.

  • Meetings allow members to think about how they might carry out these protocols and processes with their school's teacher teams in the same cycle of collaborative inquiry to develop plans for foundational skills instruction, as well as in other content areas in the future.

  • Meetings facilitate a space to share ideas and iteratively enhance implementation of the blended literacy model at each school.

In preparation for this month teams focused on Stages 2&3: Set Goals; Learn Individually and Collaboratively, Learning Teams engaged in the following through the support of Office Hours:

  1. Reviewing Winter MAP Growth Reading results, thinking through foundational skills performance.

  2. Identifying additional foundational skills' data sources to add to MAP Growth Reading results.

  3. Using the Digging Deeper Data Analysis Protocol to examine trends, issues, and observations through analysis of multiple foundational skills' data sources.

  4. Using the Data Summary Worksheet to write least one summary statement with possible causes based on your data analysis.

Anchored in Stage 2 of the Learning Team Cycle - Setting Goals we dug into the goal setting process during our time together.

  1. Student learning goals: Meeting with teacher learning team/s of focus in this work to establish student learning goals.

  2. Team learning goals: Developing consensus on what to focus on to support the SMART student goal.

  3. Educator learning goals: Each teacher within the learning team will develop individual learning goals that will help them move their work forward in foundational skills.

We are looking forward to our next session on April 6th to begin the implementation stage.


Brooklyn Gardens Elementary School

Valiant is such a noble word. It's descriptive of the plight of the Women’s Suffragist Movement and the actions of those refusing to be silenced to ensure equality. Possessing bravery, acting boldly, marked by courage, and carried out with determination are some of the qualities of heroism and valiancy! Each day we should recognize the many achievements of women throughout history in art, athletics, business, government, philanthropy, humanities, science, and education. Women have contributed a lot to society, and we have made great strides in reducing the gender equity gap. While women have made great strides in the fight for greater equality in the United States and around the world, we still have some barriers to overcome to ensure equal economic opportunities, educational equity, and women’s health. As I journey through my third year as Principal at Brooklyn Gardens Elementary School, my daily mantra is to model genuine LOVE toward my students, families, and staff, moving with grace, yet remaining relevant. I believe in getting to know every individual child and adult the best way I know how and to ensure that Brooklyn Gardens continues to be "A Great Place to Grow!"


The Fresh Creek School

In August of 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, which prohibited our Federal government from denying any citizens the right to vote based on their gender. Valiant women fought for 100 years, prior to 1920, to obtain this right. On November 2 of that year, more than 8 million women across the United States voted in elections for the first time.

During our most recent Federal election, we saw record turn-out numbers across our Nation. Female voters voted at higher rates than male voters, and in this past year’s election they cast even more votes than ever before. We witnessed valiant women of the vote, refusing to be silenced. We also witnessed our first female leader elected to the second highest position of leadership in our Nation.

As our Nation and society continues to progress in closing the gap in gender equality, it is important to continue to educate our young people of their rights as citizens and of their civic responsibilities (voting, staying informed, community involvement, practicing tolerance and passing it on) – responsibilities, while not mandatory are central to democracy.

Our students in Community School District 19 are taught to use their voice to affect change. We teach our students in the GEM program to use their voice as a platform for social change and to identify and apply their power positively, focusing on issues that are central to their lives and their community. Building our young people’s confidence and ability to advocate for themselves is not only evident throughout our district, but also very much threaded within the FCS school community. Our young people at FCS are encouraged to take an active role in shaping the enhancements we make to our educational programs and school clubs. Our students take an active role in the vision of our school community and in how we make our shared vision a reality.

Our students are encouraged to contribute to the well-being of our school community by recognizing where help or change is needed and by getting involved through offering their knowledge and talents to our school committees and school projects. We teach our students to practice tolerance, to encourage and protect the rights of others, and to respect the differences in opinions, religions, cultures and ethnic groups that may be different to our own. We teach our students the importance of good citizenship so they can in turn live this and pass it on so that our society will continue to improve. We also teach our students to recognize that sometimes change may come at a pace slower than we sometimes hope for, but that we should continue to persevere, act with integrity and push forward.

I encourage my fellow assistant principals to continue the great work we are doing in our district. Remember, the road ahead won’t be easy, but America is ready. District 19 is ready. Our students are ready! #D19AllTheWayUp


P.S. 202K

March is the time when we celebrate Women's History. It is the time to acknowledge all the outstanding women and all they have done to make a difference—the steps they have taken to unite us together. Although March is Women's History Month, I do not want to leave out the men and all they have done to bring us together as one united front to help us make a difference in history. As I look back on this school year so far, it has been a challenge for me, but I’ve watched my colleagues overcome various hurdles and make things that are believed to be impossible, possible. I value the work that we are doing for our students, parents, and our community; although we all have gone through our fair share of trials and tribulations, we always make it through. It is like the saying: "Grapes must be crushed to make wine, diamonds form under pressure, olives are pressed to release their oil, and seeds grow in darkness." What exactly does that mean? "Whenever you feel crushed, under pressure, pressed, or in darkness, you're in a forceful place of transformation." Trust the process! You have earned your place and the goal is to expand beyond it. Even with all the challenges before us, we will continue to make efforts and evolve. We will focus on creating and fostering the skills we already possess to make it work best for us. We will make room to learn more. This will prepare us to do more for our community.


Vista Academy

“With an education, you have everything you need to rise above all the noise and fulfill every last one of your dreams.” -Michelle Obama

This school year has been challenging for us all and finding new ways to engage my scholars has become my priority. Remote learning has been the center of it all; participation looks very different within this new environment. I know I have to give my scholars a voice in and out of the virtual classroom.

So, I provide scholars with a Clear Criteria for Success, which includes reading the problem carefully, noting what is given and what is required to satisfy the conditions of the problem. I always encourage scholars to take ownership of their work by using the chat and sharing their screens. I stress the importance of learning from our mistakes and feeling comfortable with sharing our answers regardless of whether it may be right or wrong. In my classroom, (blended or virtual) scholars explain their critical thinking and solving process. They know that their explanation may be confirmed or challenged, but they are prepared to learn, not only from the educator in the room, but also from one another.

Today they are scholars in my classroom; tomorrow they will be leading the world. I am looking forward to continuing to learn alongside my scholars during their final year in middle school!

D19 Community wellness check-in

Our March Community Wellness Check-In, facilitated by Ms. Victoria Edwards, started and ended with moments set aside to honor the contributions of all of the amazing women within our District 19 community who carry the torch of the many great women trailblazers in history. Valerie Lee from IS 364 Gateway purposed our day with a moment of mindfulness focused on breathing and moving positive energy and affirmations to every part of our bodies. This segued into Dr. McBryde sharing with the community a memory of a past event from his college years which highlighted the importance and necessity of routinely checking in on one’s own health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally, particularly for women and people of color. Ms. Jessica Hardial from JHS 218 engaged the community in a Mental Health Awareness Conversation where she checked in on how everyone and their children were feeling in light of the pandemic and what strategies, activities and resources they could implement to alleviate stress and anxiety. Some popular purposeful activities that parents shared they are looking forward to trying are ‘make your own pizza/tacos/burgers nights’ with their children, having a “Yes Day” where children get to choose the movie or place to go for the day, etc. The overall message was to listen to our bodies, seek out medical and mental health care even if we don’t feel like we need it, set boundaries and make sure that we are showing up wholly for our family and loved ones. We look forward to hearing how our D19 community incorporates the strategies shared for the upcoming Spring Recess!

Community School District 19 is preparing for the Brooklyn Basics Re-Launch on Wednesday, April 14. In preparation for the Re-Launch D19 has been challenged to vote on your favorite principle. Is it maximize love, manage stress? Talk, Sing and Point? Count, Group, & Compare? Explore Through Movement and Play? Or Read and Discuss Stories?

Participants will create videos of the most popular Brooklyn Basics principle. The best video submissions will be premiered during the relaunch and a winner will be selected. For more information on the Brooklyn Basics Challenge and Relaunch please visit:

Our Website (click here)

Upcoming Dates

3/29 - 4/2 - Spring Recess (No School)

4/6 - CEC Meeting

4/14 - Brooklyn Basics Launch

4/28 - Community Wellness Check-In

4/30 - MBK/GEM Convenings

4/30 - Read Aloud Day