Weekly Letter 6.19.17

Dear Families:


It’s 1999.  Our school is moving.  We will no longer live on 18th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenue, but will move to the fifth floor of this huge building at 610 Henry Street.  We are a school in transition and we need a first grade teacher.  


That year, we conduct the interviews in my house, sitting around the dining room table.  And one day, a woman arrives.   Her name is Jennifer Hardy.  


I still remember that interview.  Here was a person who came to teaching after two prior careers.  Apparently, she had worked with horses out in Kentucky and then returned to New York to help her mom at her dad’s bakery (D & G Bakery) in Little Italy.  Now she had turned her attention to education and wanted to work in a progressive school.  


We hired her.  


We saw right away that Jenny would be a major player in our school.  Jenny was dedicated, dedicated with an uppercase D.  She, herself, had gone to progressive schools, why, she was even on the cover of every educator’s must read book, The Learning Child by Dorothy Cohen:  




Jenny  understood innately our school’s mission, our goals, and our passion for education.  And so Jenny became a part of our team.  


From then on, BNS was held to a standard, Jenny’s.  We knew that we would have to complete the tasks we set ourselves and that we must always do our best work.  Good would not be good enough.  Jenny taught grade one, and then grade two, and then grade three, and finally returned to the six year olds that she loved.  Wherever she went, the work got richer and better because with Jenny, it was all about dedication with a capital D.




In 2001, Jenny encouraged her husband, Jonathan, to apply for the music teacher position that we were finally able to open up.  


When BNS first started, there was no music, just a fifth grade teacher (Tony) who would lead us in song.  Then, we were able to fund a part time position and a woman named Corinne sang with the children.  


But now, we were opening up a middle school, BCS, and between the two schools, we would need a music teacher.  We were lucky Jonathan applied for the job.  


He had worked in an after school program (and before that in that bakery in Little Italy), but this would be his first job as a cluster music teacher.


Jonathan made music the priority that it is today.  He taught us a lot.  


Our kids can sing, they can perform, they can play the recorder and they can even read a little sheet music.  We have Jonathan to thank for that.

What will the fourth grade musical be like next year?  (without Jonathan)


Brooklyn New School is the people who make it all possible.  Jenny and Jonathan are two of those people.  I can’t imagine entering this building in September and not having them here.  Who will hold us accountable?  Who will lead us in song?  


Somehow we will go on.  



All for now,




Quotes of the Week:


The children in Jennifer's pre-k class made memory blankets for their teddy bears. Jennifer noticed that Ameer Davis  was helping Aidan Seiter draw. "First you draw a circle, then 5 lines...." Jennifer said, "Ameer, you are a good teacher." Ameer replied, "I know. It's because I look like I'm 5."


Last week, Mary Ann’s kindergarten sat enthralled as Abby and Tammy’s first grader Jacob Hutchines told them how some frogs can shoot out their tongue super fast to nab a passing insect.  He was building on his prior knowledge for the annual reading of his favorite big book Frog Food.   On his own initiative, Jacob had made an appointment with Mary Ann so he and his reading partner, Mika Bekerman, could share the exciting moment with these younger students.  


On explaining why he was entering the school a few minutes late, Adam Ben-Ali , a fourth grader in Eva and Kaelyn’s class said, “I was consumed by the great art of talking so I forgot the time.”





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