The Unity Scoop – October 22
Dear Families of Unity,
I hope that this past week was good to you and your loved ones. It is hard to believe that we just completed our 6th week of school together and that we are now completing our first round of interim assessments (IAs).
Interim assessments provide an opportunity for students to show off all that they have learned thus far in their classes this year. They also provide important information to our team regarding the degree to which students are developing new and important skills in their courses. These assessments allow us to position ourselves to best support academic success for all of our students over the course of the school year.
We are excited to support our students in this endeavor over the coming week, and kindly ask for your collaboration with this by supporting your child at home in the following ways:
- Ensure that your child eats a healthy breakfast and arrives at school on time with their full set of school supplies and materials.
- Ask your child about how things are going in their classes, and provide encouragement such that they are supported and confident as they complete their IAs this week.
- Help your child prepare for their exams by ensuring that they have a quiet, designated space and time to study each night. Of course, feel free to pull up a chair and help them study! Studying together can be a fun experience for all.
- Be proactive in your communication with your child’s teachers about any questions or concerns.
In this edition of the Scoop, we spotlight a number of our community members, including students, educators, and alumni, and their recent accomplishments and service. Scroll down to enjoy some fantastic photos and a list of our students who have had stellar attendance through the first six weeks of the school year!
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and best wishes in the coming week!
Head of School / Co-founder
Updates as of October 22, 2023:
1. New – Unity’s Campuses Join Forces to Support The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer!: Members of our community – grades 6-12 – raised funding and participated in a 3-mile walk this morning in support of The American Cancer Society (ACS). ACS’s Making Strides initiative raises lifesaving funds that support breast cancer patients, survivors, thrivers, and caregivers through every step of the journey. Kudos to Ms. Terry and Ms. Olivier for leading our community in this important community service!
2. New – Alumni Spotlight of the Month – Amir Granderson, Unity’s Class of 2021: We are thrilled to share with our entire community the accomplishments of our alumni whenever we can. This month, we proudly provide an update on the postsecondary success of Amir Granderson, who is now in his third year at City College of New York (CCNY). Kudos to Amir in making the most of his college experience!
Amir making his way through campus at SUNY Buffalo this past winter as a second-year college student.
Amir Granderson graduated from Unity in 2021. He is a proud member of Unity’s second graduating class.
Accomplishments: Amir began his higher education journey at SUNY University of Buffalo, and is now working on his Bachelor’s Degree at CUNY City College. Amir currently has two paid internships, one in architecture with the NYC Housing Authority and another at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Amir is also learning Arabic at City College and is on track to become a well-rounded architect upon graduation in 2025.
Fun fact: Amir is taking 7 classes this semester at City College – that is in addition to two internships!
Advice: Amir believes that being connected to a community is incredibly helpful and motivating. He remains connected to Unity and offers his help whenever he can!
3. New – Congratulations to Unity Middle’s Dance & Health Teacher, Ms. McRae, who was one of five health teachers in Brooklyn to be awarded the Above & Beyond Award!: The award is awarded to educators who are among the best in the borough in providing high-quality access to, resources on, and information about health education. Thank you, Ms. McRae, for the tremendous impact you have on our community each and every day!
4. Updated – Unity’s National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society – Encourage Eligible Students to Apply and Join!: The window for applying to become a member of the National and National Junior Honor Societies opens Monday, October 16th. Eligibility is based on a student’s grade point average (GPA). Eligible students will be notified via Jupiter this week. Applications are due on October 30th. We are excited to expand our membership as well as the impact our Honor Societies have on our community!
5. Updated – Unity’s Volleyball Teams Continue to Roll!: Our MS JV and Varsity Volleyball teams had the opportunity to visit Hofstra University to meet members of the women’s volleyball team and see them prepare for and compete in a match. Through the experience, members of both teams were able to appreciate the intensity of college athletics and what it takes to be a student athlete in college!
6. New – Unity Middle’s Soccer Team Is Enjoying their Season and Learning New Skills as they Go!: We salute our middle school soccer team and their coach, Coach Okoloji (Coach O.) on their season thus far. Continue to make us proud, team!
7. Updated – Your Feedback Empowers Us – Please Take a Moment to Share Your Experiences With Us By Completing our Fall Family Perception Survey: Thank you to the many families who provided feedback this past week! As mentioned, our purpose as a school is to best serve you and your child’s educational aspirations. And we are best positioned to fulfill this purpose when we have honest and direct feedback from you. With this interest, we request your feedback on how we are doing as we kick off the school year by completing one of the surveys below. The survey includes questions about family communication, engagement, fit, support, school climate, and safety, among other things. Your answers are anonymous; we will use your collective feedback over the coming months to drive our decision-making and best position us to best serve you. As a small gesture of appreciation for your time, the first 300 families to complete the survey by Friday, 10/20, at 4pm will be eligible for a raffle of $100 to Amazon. Simply text the survey complete screenshot to 347-746-1575 to enter the raffle. We thank you in advance for your invaluable feedback, and, more importantly, we thank you for positioning us to act on your feedback.
- Complete the survey by clicking here
- Note: in the event that you have children attending both our middle school and high school, please complete the high school survey.
- Text the survey complete screenshot to 347-746-1575 to enter the raffle.
8. New – Stellar Attendance through Week 6 – 95% and Above!: The following lengthy list of students demonstrated a strong and consistent dedication to their education by showing stellar attendance over the first 6 weeks of school. Kudos to these students – we love seeing you each and every day! And, of course, we look forward to celebrating additional students at the end of this month!
9. Recap – October 2023 School-wide Calendar: For your family’s convenience, here is a schoolwide calendar of events for the month of October – print it out and throw it on the refrigerator door! It is possible that events could change and new events could be added. An up-to-date events calendar can always be accessed on our website.
10. Recap – Urban Advantage Family Science Days – Free Admission to some of the City’s Premiere Museums and Institutions!: Through Unity’s partnership with Urban Advantage (UA), families may take part in UA Family Science Days. See this flier below for information on all UA events this month. The flier also serves as an admissions ticket.
11. Recap – Letter to Families of New York City Public Schools from the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE): As mentioned above, we are forwarding a letter from the NYCDOE that offers directions and guidance to families as we all navigate the recent tragedies in the Middle East and the concerning social media and news coverage surrounding them. We encourage all of our families to read the letter and use the resources provided.
Together, we can navigate these challenging times. Resources and Information to Promote Respect for all and address hate crimes in our community.
As the conflict in the Middle East continues to escalate and we are seeing increased news coverage of social media posts promoting violence, I am writing to provide information on how we are monitoring events, remind you of existing protocols, and share guidance and resources.
Our top priority is to ensure the safety of every student and staff member in our school system. As a reminder, NYPD actively monitors social media sites for threats of violence. We remain in constant communication with NYPD, and at this time, there are no specific threats against our schools. We are committed to remaining in constant communication and will continue to update you.
Digital Literacy and Media Literacy
It’s imperative that our students, staff, and broader community have the tools to discern fact from fiction, and can promote digital and media literacy in an uncertain information environment. We recommend guiding educators to our Digital Citizenship webpage and the attached resources to equip students with skills in media literacy and safe online behaviors.
Principals, please continue to contact your Superintendents for more detailed support. Superintendents, please continue to escalate concerns that cannot be addressed at the local level to your Chief of School Support and Senior Field Counsel.
I urge each of you to use these resources, lean on one another, and engage our communities in open dialogue. Our focus remains on the safety, well-being, and education of our students. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to the NYCPS community. Together, we can navigate these challenging times.
David C. Banks
12. Recap – Unity Calendar for the 2023-24 School Year: The table below reflects our key events and vacations calendar for the 2023-24 school year. In addition, here is the updated PDF version of the table for your convenience.
13. Recap – New Students for Fall 2023 – Unity middle school has a few seats available for rising sixth graders for the 2023-24 school year. Finding the right middle school can be tough, and our current families (you!) are the best advocates. If you know of any interested families, please reach out to Mr. Beckford via email or cell (862-294-0219). For any families that refer a new family, both will be given a free uniform shirt.
Relevant Information from Past Editions of The Scoop:
Free Resources for Unity Families: Unity’s social work team is always looking for resources that may be helpful and of interest to our families. A host of resources are provided below. Reach out to Ms. Del Purgatorio, Unity’s Director of Social Work, with questions.
- Introducing 988, The New Mental Health Hotline: The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, which launched last week, is a new way for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis to quickly reach out for help. Anyone in the US can now call or text 9-8-8 to be connected to a trained mental health professional at one of more than 200 local crisis call centers around the country. Learn more here.
- INCLUDEnyc Presents: How to Talk to Your Children about Sexuality: This webinar will help parents and guardians of children with disabilities become more comfortable discussing sexuality and relationships, and cover some of the most effective ways to talk about this sensitive topic. Learn more and register here.
- Free Summer Meals for Students – begins Tuesday, June 28th: NYC’s Summer Meals program offers free breakfast and lunch throughout NYC for anyone age 18 and under. No registration, documentation, or ID is required. Visit here for details on time, locations, menus and other helpful information.
- Free Book Giveaway for Kids and Teens: As part of our largest summer program ever, The New York Public Library is giving away 500,000 books for kids and teens to take home and keep. Drop by one of our neighborhood branches to choose yours—plus, explore free events, our summer writing contest for kids, the opportunity for teens to contribute to a new magazine, and more with Summer at the Library. Visit here for more information.
- DOE’s Beyond Access Series Presents Self-Regulation Techniques: This workshop will provide parents, caregivers and students strategies for reducing stress and improving the ability to self-regulate, with simple routines and activities that reduce anxiety and reactivity and promote calm and happy students and families. Spanish and Mandarin interpretation available. Learn more and register here.
- DOE’s Beyond Access Series Presents How to Access Supports for Students with Behavioral Challenges: This workshop covers the educational rights of students who face behavioral challenges in school, including different kinds of behavioral supports and interventions , along with the opportunity to share advocacy tips. Learn more and register here.
- The Child Mind Institute offers great (free & remote) caregiver workshops on a seasonal basis! Take a moment to visit their site and appreciate their offerings.
- The recent events in Ukraine may be a source of stress and anxiety for some children. Below are four resources that may be helpful for families:
- Helping Kids Cope with Frightening News from Child Mind Institute
- How to Talk to Kids About War from verywellfamily.com
- How to Navigate Difficult Conversations with Children from The Relation Station
- How to Talk to Children about War: An Age-by-Age Guide from Today.com
- Below are flyers for lists of low-cost dental providers in each borough:
- Free Child Nutrition Webinar Series: Register for the “An Alarming Rise in Excess Weight and Diabetes in Children: Strategies and Solutions” webinar on Monday, March 7th. The webinar is presented by French-American Aid for Children as part of the new Child Nutrition Webinar series. Parents and educators will learn about practical nutrition tips and accessible information to encourage children to adopt good eating habits in school—and at home—through an interactive dialogue between Dr. Juliana Cohen, nutrition epidemiologist and associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Dr. Ileana Vargas-Rodriguez, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Children’s Hospital of New York. A Q&A session will follow the webinar. Check out previous recordings of past webinars, including:
- Engaging Children in their own Nutritional Journey
- Smart Summer Shopping and Cooking
- Nutrition’s Powerful Impact on Children’s Physical and Mental Health