Dear AmPark Family,
We share this message with continued hopes for your health, safety, and general well-being in these days that have called loudly on our endurance. Covid-19 was the top worry for many when we first went remote. Over the past few weeks while that concern and all of its tentacles has remained, several more have taken hold. As our nation faces a reckoning, families and staff members of our community have been impacted in countless ways. We will continue to show up for our community by providing times to connect, listen, and respond as remote learning continues, while also planning our necessary social and emotional supports well in advance of our return.
Our June Chancellor’s Day of professional learning for staff regularly centers around reflection on the year and intention setting for the future. This Thursday AmPark staff engaged in needed self-care and courageous conversations about our racial identities, as well as our role in institutionalized and systemic racism. From what was said at the District 10 and Bronx Principals meetings, similar discussions happened across our borough. Similarly, many parents reached out to discuss how they are handling conversations in their homes with their children. I may have to check my privilege in these cautious feelings of optimism, and your critique is welcome, but from what I am seeing there are incremental changes in perspective that are building strong momentum, and that leaves me with renewed hope.
As I mentioned in last week’s Owl, advocacy and activism makes up AmPark’s backbone. It was the advocacy and activism of parents that dreamed the AmPark dream and brought the vision of AmPark to life alongside a dedicated founding staff. Last week as song choices for sing were brainstormed, Francisco stopped us in our tracks when he said, “If we don’t sing songs of protest now, when do we? It’s what we already do.”
I say all of this to be transparent about our direction, to acknowledge that for so many members of our community these are not new conversations and it has to be unbelievably frustrating to continue engaging in them, and to continue to be transparent about my growth, the growth of our staff, and the growth of our system. A sincere thank you to the many parents that have reached out with questions, to share stories, to share intentions, and to challenge us to do better. I invite everyone in this large and extended family to lend their voices, experiences and perspectives where they feel called to do so. Over remote learning time, we have gotten to know one another in profound ways as we have ventured into the unknown on two sides of a screen. We have glimpsed a more personal view of our homes and families, as well as the shared celebrations, frustrations, and everything in between. In many ways this new way of “knowing” has been a silver lining of the experience and one that will undoubtedly continue after the necessity of it has gone.
As you continue to give so much of yourself to your children, while balancing many other priorities, and wading through big emotions, I wish you some rest, respite, and joy this weekend.
AMAZING RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES ON RACE & CURRENT EVENTS:
A huge thanks to our own outstanding teacher leader, Priya Cassidy, for compiling a truly phenomenal list of resources for families to use in talking to your children about race and the events unfolding in our news and in our country. Please check out her recommendations here:
This is a great article for parents. It gives us the language we can use to start some of these conversations while still being sensitive to their age.
This link will provide you with a list of book titles.
Another link with book resources.
CNN TV special this Saturday!
The 60-minute special "Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism. LINK ABOVE A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids and Families" will air on Saturday, June 6, at 10 a.m. ET.
The show will talk to kids about racism, the recent nationwide protests, embracing diversity and being more empathetic and understanding. Big Bird will join CNN commentator Van Jones and CNN anchor and national correspondent Erica Hill to moderate the event. They will be joined by "Sesame Street" characters -- including Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Rosita -- and other experts answering questions submitted by families.
Next Week's Live Events:
(All links will be posted in Google Classrooms)
Monday - One Book One School Live Lunch - Chapter 6 of RICH, a Dyamonde Daniel Book
Tuesday - No live events: Chancellor's Conference Day for Teachers, Students still in attendance
Wednesday - One Book One School Live Lunch - Chapter 7 of RICH, a Dyamonde Daniel Book
Thursday - Live SING with Josh & Friends
Friday - One Book One School Live Lunch - Chapter 8 of RICH, a Dyamonde Daniel Book
Letter from the Chancellor
Weekly Self-Care through Affirmations: Lovingkindness Meditation
This week, we invite you to engage in self care with a lovingkindness moment of mindfulness. You can start the week sending love to yourself and then growing your light over the course of the week to shine on others near and far.
Monday, June 8th - (think of yourself, and pretend to speak to yourself) May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.
Tuesday, June 9th - (think of someone you love and pretend to speak to them) May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.
Wednesday, June 10th - (think of someone you don’t know very well) May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.
Thursday, June 11th - (think of someone you have had a difficult time with) May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.
Friday, June 12th - (think of all people and creatures) May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.