District 19 Newsletter

May 2021

Message from Superintendent

Dr. Thomas McBryde Jr.

We take time this month to celebrate our Amazing Mothers, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. May is significant to the AAPI community for two reasons. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States. More than 20 years later, on May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed, a project more than 20,000 Chinese workers participated in. Asian Americans, and Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) make our Nation more vibrant through diversity of cultures, languages, and religions. The AANHPI experience represents a diversity of contributions that has enriched America’s culture and society, and strengthened our country. The American story as we know it would be impossible without the strength, contributions, and legacies of AANHPIs who have helped build and unite this country. From laying railroad tracks, tilling fields, and starting businesses, advancing technology and healthcare, to caring for our loved ones and honorably serving our Nation in uniform, AANHPI communities are deeply rooted in the history of the United States.

We also celebrate and honor the invaluable contributions the AANHPI communities have made to our Nation’s culture and the arts, law, science and technology, sports, and public service — including the courageous AANHPIs who have served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as health care providers, first responders, teachers, and other essential workers.

During this year’s Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, our Nation celebrates the achievements of Vice President Harris, the first person of South Asian descent to hold the Office of the Vice President. Vice President Harris has blazed a trail and set an example for young people across the country to aspire to follow, including members of AANHPI communities and AANHPI women in particular.

In spite of the strength shown and successes achieved, the American dream has remained out of reach for far too many AANHPI families and other minority groups. AANHPI communities face systemic barriers to economic justice, health equity, educational attainment, and personal safety. It’s important to note that we are celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the context of recent racist incidents targeting Asians in our country. Sadly, discrimination and racist violence against Asians have a long history in our country, dating back to the first immigrants. We denounce these racist acts and stand firmly in support of our diverse Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities. We must all be clear: racism, hatred, and discrimination have no place in our community or country. We must continue to take action to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. The true American dream of “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" is only possible through embracing diversity and ensuring that our community is welcoming and inclusive for all.

Message from Deputy Superintendent

Dr. Tamra S. Collins

There are plenty of reasons to love the Month of May. We start to shift towards summer, flowers are blooming, and the weather is warming up. But what makes May so special is that we have a lot to celebrate. There is something official every single day in May from May Day, School Principals’ Day, Mother’s Day, National Teacher Appreciation Week, Cinco de Mayo, National Nurse’s Day, Memorial Day, my favorite National Tap Dance Day, and much more.

And so…I celebrate and honor our Dynamic District 19 teachers for their amazing work during this challenging time. I tip my hat to our brilliant school leaders for your commitment and perseverance. Thank you to all the moms and mom-like figures for your love, strength, and guidance. To our nurses, we are inspired by your dedication and fortitude, our unsung heroes.

The month of May is also special because it is used as a time by those of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage to amplify their voices and celebrate their cultural pride through skills, activism, food, fashion and music. It is also a time to learn about the contributions and experiences that AAPI have made to this country. To understand that Asian culture includes individuals from the East, the Southeast, the Indian subcontinent and the Pacific Islands and to know they all have distinct cultures, nationalities, languages and histories, and should not be lumped together. These experiences are especially important in the face of an increase in anti-Asian discrimination and violence since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. As educators, we need to become more aware of the diversity within the Asian American experience so that we can begin/better uplift their stories and struggles in our lesson plans in order to address and eliminate bias and stereotypes.

Did you know…

· Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were commemorated during the first week of May following a congressional resolution passed in 1978. It wasn't until 1992 that the entire month of May was designated to observe AAPI heritage with relevant activities, programs and ceremonies.

· The month of May was chosen to mark two significant events: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant to the US on May 7, 1843, and the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad -- which was completed thanks to the labor of tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants -- on May 10, 1869.

· Starting in the 1850s, Chinese contract laborers were instrumental in building up infrastructure and the economy while working in mines, railroads and factories, and as farmers and fishermen.

Celebrating diversity and creating an inclusive environment is crucial as educators. It begins with learning to appreciate other cultures in addition to your own. Self-education should always be the first step. Whether that means watching documentaries or cracking open a book or two, educating yourself about the history and hardships of another culture is the best starting point in your journey towards understanding that our differences are what makes us all beautiful and unique.

This is the work of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

P.S. 108K

The students at P.S. 108K used their creativity and artistic talents to celebrate and honor Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month! Click on the picture above or link below to see their Haikus about kindness and respect, AA/PI support posters, representations of Tiki statues, games designed to prioritize acceptance and inclusion, and so much more!

P.S. 345K

This May our scholars and staff at Patrolman Robert Bolden Elementary School/PS 345 were elated to observe and celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Our school community truly believes in and promotes inclusivity and respect for all cultures. Hence, our school wide virtual assembly programs for scholars in grades K-2 and 3-5, were proud showcase Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage through personal and insightful presentations from three of our very own staff members. (Ms. Choezom, Mr, Abu and Ms. Menon) Each presentation highlighted a specific country of origin and provided our scholars and staff with an in-depth look at the culture and history of Bangladesh, Tibet, and India.

Our staff members adorned traditional attire from their culture and took our students on a virtual tour by sharing vivid slides providing information about India’s, Tibet’s and Bangladesh’s history, language, religion, traditional foods, sports, and pastimes.

Scholars’ knowledge on Asian American culture was further enhanced through an engaging video, explaining the origin of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As a culmination, scholars participated in a question-and-answer segment which afforded students the opportunity to share their wonderings and ask in depth questions to each of our presenters.

Our in-person scholars continued to expand their cultural knowledge by engaging in an “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Food Festival and Activity Day”, wherein they participated in creating Chinese lanterns and fans, and coloring Indian henna patterns and creating bookmarks.

Teachers provided small, tasty bites of traditional food and snacks from their respective countries of origin. Scholars received an opportunity to taste and enjoy different cuisines such as biryani, samosas, gummy sushi, chicken and beef dumplings, crackers, and cookies. Scholars and staff were fully immersed in learning about different cultures and foods, from Asia and Pacific Islands.

P.S. 346K
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Brooklyn Gardens Elementary School
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Brooklyn Gardens Elementary School celebrated Asian American Pacific Islanders Heritage Month through a selection of multiple activities. Grade 3 In-Person students engaged in an activity that involved COOKING with STEAM with our STEM Teacher Mr. Thomas Hackett cooking a traditional Filipino dish. Kindergarten Remote Teachers Mrs. Ayinla and Ms. Russi invited a guest speaker (click on the link below) to share all about how her Filipino culture and experiences shaped who she is today. Grade 4 Remote Teachers, Mr. Smart and Mrs. Celentani engaged students in a research project to build their knowledge of the positive impact that was influenced by famous Asian American Pacific Islanders around the world.

P.S. 938K
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Early Childhood

Our 3K and Pre-K Scholars learned about Rangoli patterns. "A Rangoli is a colorful design made on the floor using colored rice powder. Another form of Rangoli is Mendhi which is used to decorate hands and feet during festivals and weddings. In math, Rangoli patterns are a creative way to discover symmetry, reflection and tessellation." Students viewed the video (below) about the significance of Rangoli art. They discussed its many uses within different cultures and religions, and then created their own art.



Our Kindergarten students learned about famous Asian American and Pacific Islanders such as Wataru Misaka, Anna May Wong, Queen Lili’uokalani, and Dwayne Johnson. They discussed the life of each person and answered writing prompts. In celebration, they completed a directed drawing of Dwayne Johnson and listened to a Disney Moana read aloud.


In music class, scholars watched a video about a Maori Stick Game originating in New Zealand. Students then practiced and performed their own version of the stick game with partners. 3-K and Pre-K students watched a Chinese scarf dance and created and performed their own scarf dances.

District 19 GEM

On Tuesday May 18th GEM partnered with Epiphany Blue to host our first A Night With GEMS, a special event designed for GEMS and a special woman in their lives to engage in a shared experience that allowed them to Relax, Reconnect & Recharge. GEMS and a mother figure participated in a special activity titled, Twice the GEM, where they were encouraged to reflect on and share something they appreciated about the other – check out the Jamboard photo below! After that, the GEMS took part in a self-care demo, where they used a special package that was delivered to each of them, to create a body scrub and lavender fragrant spray. The event received 4 out 4 stars from all of our participants! We are looking forward to making this an annual event.

D19 GEM Squad: We LEAD

We have partnered with The Heart to Say It to develop a D19 GEM Squad Leadership Program. The sessions will give GEMS the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and use their VOICE to lead GEM Squad initiatives across the district for other girls. Our GEM Leaders will facilitate after-school Connection Sessions rooted in student curated topics, discussion points and desired outcomes for all girls across the district. The Connection Sessions are meant to allow GEM Leaders to foster relationships, build sisterhood, and tap into experiences, emotions, and commonalities to reinforce that we are more alike than we are different. GEM Leaders are encouraged to Express, Connect and Shift as they learn to further appreciate and stand in the joy, courage and strength that is womanhood.

On the horizon... D19 GEM Squad May Convening. On Friday, May 28th the D19 GEM Squad is hosting our upcoming convening Realizing Our Dreams...Summarizing the Journey. Please join us as our GEMs reflect on and share how the activities from this year have helped them to grow towards their dreams. Check back next month for highlights from the event!

Sneak Peek at our Reflection Activity...

District 19 MBK

“A Monumental May for D19 MBK”

May has been a busy, but exciting month for the mentors and mentees of D19’s MBK program. The fun began on May 4th with the MBK Jr. Fellow’s continuing to build their relationship with their high school mentors. They followed up with a “Game Day” on May 18th, where students built fellowship by playing games together online, including Fortnite, NBA 2K and Kahoot Trivia.

On May 21st, filming began on our MBK “Hidden Gems” documentary, where the young men of the program had the privilege of interviewing their first “East NY Gems”, Dr.Youngblood and Reverend Brawley, the former and current Pastors of St. Paul’s Church, which is a historical landmark in East New York. Mentees from a number of schools also began to shoot “B” roll footage in the neighborhoods surrounding their schools, which will air in the documentary. Interviews will continue through early June.

Our mentees will end the month on a high note as they participate in our virtual convening on Friday, May 28, 2021. The day will begin at 10:30am with our May Convening hosted by P.S. 328 and P.S. 346. The theme for this month’s convening is “Together our Voices Make One Loud Voice!”. Our "Swag & Say Hey Day" in-person reconnection event has been postponed due to the potential for inclement weather.

This month, Dr. McBryde previewed the district-wide focus of next school year during the Principals' Conference. We will be prioritizing Culturally Responsive Education and Mathematics in SY 2021-22. Dr. McBryde kicked the session off with the icebreaker "I Am, But I Am Not" to provide principals with the space to claim their own identities and dispel stereotypes. We were then joined by our D19 Assistant Principals and Dr. Gholdy Muhammad for a keynote on the Culturally and Historically Responsive Education work that she has researched and worked on in school communities across the country. She centered the keynote on the key questions: Where is the genius and where is the joy? After taking us through an inspiring and energizing history of our ancestors' genius, she named some practices and next steps that leaders can engage in to begin to strategize and action plan on to embed the five components of historically responsive education: Identity, Skills, Intellect, Criticality and Joy. Dr. McBryde facilitated a discussion which connected today's work to previous sessions' work on Adaptive Leadership, giving leaders a chance to preview the challenges, behaviors, and adaptive work that will be necessary to accompany the work around Culturally Responsive Education.

This month, Math & ELA Teacher Leaders conducted inter-visitations to support our Year 2 focus on Great Minds curricula implementation and lesson customizations. SHOUT OUT to our ELA Hosts: Ms. Alica (557), Ms. Brown (013), Ms. Wurzer (065), Ms. Cadet (292), and Ms. Allia (760) and our Math Hosts: Ms. Ali (290), Ms. Johnson (328), Ms. Leela (557), Ms. Fashusi (654), and Ms. Hurt (452)! The TL Hosts worked very hard to ensure that they "told the story" by taking TLs in small groups on a journey through the work that they have engaged in this school year in their school communities.

TLs used a modified Coaching Co-Op protocol to engage in a pre-observation centered on naming problems of practice as it relates to lesson customization and curriculum implementation, an observation, and a post-observation focused on praises and pushes, grounded in our year-long focus. TLs were also able to analyze the coaching actions/moves needed to engage the teacher observed in a coaching conversation by drafting questions that could be used to support growth in instructional practice.

Throughout our meetings, we created spaces to pause and reflect on our journeys this school year and the great strides that we have made in bringing our school communities closer together at the Teacher Leader level by leveraging the power of our shared curricula. We look forward to deepening our relationships across schools and leadership practices in coaching curricular implementation next year!

"How are we Feeling?"

D19 Perceived Stress Scale Analysis

Guidance Counselors reviewed their school’s Perceived Stress Scale Data. They shared their school-wide tiered implementation plans after reviewing the number of high, moderate and low perceived stress students identified. Additionally, trends were discussed regarding subgroups such as STH, SWD and Remote vs. Blended learning. Guidance counselors shared how they have implemented the Emotional First Aid Kits in their schools and the impact so far. It was great to hear the Guidance Counselors share ideas about interventions and gathered best practices. Finally, Guidance Counselors made predictions about the district-wide results prior to unpacking the data.

Guidance Counselors will engage in a June Reflection Project in celebration of our collective efforts to wrap up the 2021 school year. A culminating video will be created that includes artifacts to represent one initiative they would like to celebrate on behalf of their school community this year. This can be a video clip, a written reflection or images. It is an opportunity for Guidance Counselors to shout out their school's work. Submissions are due by June 4th and will be shared during our final meeting for the year on June 16th.


P.S. 65K

I love to garden and plant, therefore, “Give Them Their Flowers,” resonates with me in a personal way. I consider myself to have a “green thumb,” yet creating a garden requires more than a green thumb! It requires patience, careful planning, and trust, but in the end you have cultivated something positive and wonderful! Although this school year was challenging for many, it also had its moments that allowed for growth and positivity. Just like growing a garden, this school year also took patience, careful planning, and high-levels of trust among all of our stakeholders. We here at P.S. 065 made it our mission this year to work collaboratively to ensure that students received meaningful, culturally relevant instruction that built on students’ strengths and targeted our students’ areas for growth. We dedicated ourselves to providing an environment of educational excellence with high expectations and individualized attention for all students through a remote and in person learning system. It is for all of these efforts that I want to give my staff their well-deserved flowers because they were the true cultivators this year!

Encouraging Words: A leader is only as great as his or her team. On a team, it’s not just the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they function together. Just like flowers that bloom in May and cultivate the earth, if you focus your attention on cultivating your team by enriching, nurturing, and developing your members, the rest will fall into place.


Van Siclen Community Middle School

Some say that teaching or positions in our industry are thankless jobs. Although the appreciation may not be immediate and the gratitude is usually expressed annually in the month of May, we do get our flowers. Our flowers may, however, be packaged differently. I met Amanda when she was in the 7th grade, now she’s a 5th year teacher, a Teach for America Corp member in Memphis, Tennessee, and has won Teacher of the Year. We have kept in touch throughout the years, but in March she left a voice message. In the message, she said that she told her students about me. Amanda shared her gratitude and appreciation for me with her students. She explained to them that she was so thankful that I believed in her and poured so much love and encouragement into her. She said that her trajectory in her life was owed to the energy I gave her. This message is my flower. Amanda is just one of my many flowers that continue to bloom and flourish. I am forever grateful for all the light and love in my life personally and professionally, near and from a distance. As I sit back and smell the flowers, Amanda is my reminder about the seeds I plant today.

One piece of advice: Always remember your WHY, and make it your motivation.


P.S. 158K

I would like to thank Dr. McBryde and the entire D19 “All the Way Up" Team for this honor. I have been a Parent Coordinator for 17 years and I was a family assistant for 4 years at P.S. 158K. During that time, I have come to know students who are now parents at our school. I have made friends with parents that were angry, afraid and embarrassed because of lack of educational experience and/or language barriers. During the beginning of the pandemic last year, things were a little confusing for all involved, parents and DOE staff alike. Yes, it was hectic, but after a lot of praying, I realized that no matter what, we must have faith and do the job we are assigned to do. When I receive that text, email or phone call from a parent thanking me for all my help, it lets me know that the work I am doing is making a difference. Through it all my fellow PCs, I want to say it has been the worst and best years of my life. I do not believe I would be receiving this award if it were not for Principal Towles, my amazing P.S. 158K family and CBO Grand Street Settlement, who have always helped me to help a parent or family in need. Thank you to Ms. Roman and Ms. Edwards for listening when I needed an ear, my fellow Parent Coordinators for all their help making my job a little less stressful with tips to make the job easier. Finally, I would like to give a shout out to all my P.S.158K parents past and present for all their love, kindness and patience over the years. These are all fruits of the spirit. Thanks for keeping my spirit fed.


P.S. 108K

“The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspectives." - Robert John Meehan

It was a very difficult decision when I was asked to transitioned from classroom teacher to Staff Developer (and later a UFTTC Coach). I had always felt so rewarded as I witnessed my students making progress and becoming independent thinkers. As teacher leader for the several years leading to becoming a Staff Developer, I shared my classroom practices through hosting inter-visitations and by visiting my colleagues’ classrooms to provide feedback and support. That’s when I realized that I could touch many students’ lives as a staff developer/coach and this year more than any other year, working to support teachers so they could support their students was a necessity!

This year showed that children will smile, laugh and learn despite a pandemic when the adults collaboratively and willingly search for innovative ways to engage them and their families. Countless hours were spent learning about how to use technology in Google Classroom so all learners would have equal access to the curriculum. Throughout the pandemic, I facilitated workshops, modeled lessons, arranged inter-visitations, conducted walkthroughs, provided feedback and most importantly, set up a “virtual couch” for late-night sessions reassuring teachers. Connecting with students, families and staff and honoring everyone perspectives had the most impact this year and continues to be a priceless commodity. I am grateful for what the pandemic has taught me-children are more resilient than we realize, and we owe it to them to find ways to rise to the occasion.


P.S. 108K

"Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life." – Amy Poehler

I have been part of the P.S. 108K school family for 21 years. Within my years at P.S. 108K, I have been a teacher, Staff Developer and for the last 3 years the UFTTC Coach. I can honestly say that this year has presented itself with more challenges and changes than ever before. Keeping P.S. 108K's goal of working collaboratively with the teachers and paraprofessionals at the forefront inspired me to move full speed ahead. As I reflect upon these challenges and changes, it is easy to focus on the “why” it was difficult, but instead I choose to think of the perseverance, flexibility and hope of my school community.

Perseverance because of the ongoing work to learn about how to address the students' unfinished learning as well as supporting the teachers with how they could use various technology tools to deliver meaningful and engaging lessons to all of our students. Flexibility comes to mind because that was the key to many successes. I learned how to deliver professional development virtually while embedding the virtual tools to model their effectiveness while working collaboratively with teachers and paraprofessionals to customize lessons. This allowed me to demonstrate the need to be flexible and be ready with a back-up when technology suddenly failed and show teachers how to adjust lessons when faced with the same uncertainty. Hope because I observed teachers and paraprofessionals welcome their students with smiles and see my professional development come to life in their classrooms. Our students engaged in Wit and Wisdom, and Eureka Math lessons that mirrored our in-person teaching. As the year progressed, it was exciting to see the teachers become more comfortable and creative with their planning and delivery of instruction.

This school year taught me an invaluable lesson - the importance of building relationships, lending an empathetic ear and that anything is possible when you know it will touch a child’s life!

D19 Community wellness check-in

Our May Community Wellness Check-In took place on May 26th and was facilitated by Ms. Victoria Edwards. It began with a reel of the amazing artwork that our scholars submitted for the Art Showcase - Resilience: Living In The City. Parent Coordinator Ricardo Fortuney from The Fresh Creek School opened the session with a Moment of Mindfulness focused on breathing exercises to breathe in the positivity and release the negativity. Dr. McBryde addressed the community with an inspirational message, encouraging everyone to take time to appreciate and pay attention to the blossoming and changing environment around them, and to acknowledge the appreciation and joy of community that we have built during our wellness check-ins. Guidance Counselor Kwame Gaddy from P.S. 224K shared how the pandemic furthered wellness in his school community by rethinking how to create programs and services in the virtual setting that empower the community. He shared about how he has led sessions on entrepreneurship, social justice, financial literacy, etc. to continue to support families through these difficult times. As always, Ms. Edwards led a conversation checking in on how everyone is feeling and set aside time for participants to "give flowers" to members in the community as a token of appreciation. Shout out to our parent winners from our raffle who will receive a D19-themed care kit for being the first participants to enter their child's school Parent Coordinator and Principal names into the chat! Be sure to attend next month's Wellness Check-In on June 23rd with your child!

"Resilience: Living In The City"

Virtual Art Showcase

"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refused to be reduced by it." - Maya Angelou

Celebrating Creativity!

On May 25th , the D19 “Resilience: Living in the City” Art showcase celebrated our creative, talented young artists and innovative teachers of the Arts, who masterfully displayed their work in multiple artistic genres. The exhibits included showcases in dance, chorus, band, visual arts and theater.

This year, D19 worked to promote Emotional Resiliency through the Arts during this challenging time. The D19 Resiliency Project was a joint effort between Guidance Counselors and Arts Teachers to implement trauma-informed practices with our students. Across the district, students created Emotional First Aid Kits filled with an arsenal of items, ideas, songs, movies, etc., to help them through difficult moments. Special guest fashion designer, Misa Hilton provided the opening kickoff address about resilience and the importance of art.

The Art showcase was unveiled to parents and students in creative and unique ways. Various assemblies, town halls, morning meetings, lunch events and evening art spotlights were held. Schools shared the Flipgrid code on Google Classroom, so each class was able to participate, while others ensured all students received the flyer and scanned the code to view the showcase with their families. P.S. 214K surprised their chorus students with the unexpected unveiling at their regularly scheduled chorus class! Whatever the preferred method, be sure to join us in honoring our young artists' perspectives on "Resilience: Living in the City..."

Upcoming Dates

5/28 - MBK/GEM Convenings

5/31 - Memorial Day (Schools Closed)

6/1 - CEC Meeting

6/4 - STEM Showcase/STEMlympics

6/17 - DLT Meeting

6/18 - MBK/GEM Convening

06/23 - Community Wellness Check-In

6/25 - Last Day of School