Archives for category: Leadership in Schools

Dr. Shyla Rao, Principal, City Neighbors Hamilton

This year at City Neighbors Hamilton (our 2nd City Neighbors school, K-8 est. 2009) we welcome Dr. Shyla Rao as our new school leader.  Already Dr. Shyla (as the kids call her) is deep in the work of getting to know the students, connecting and supporting her teachers, and focusing on the health and well-being of the community. She has entered into our fast-paced environment right in stride – literally! On a recent Sunday, Dr. Shyla offered a walk around Lake Montebello for any parents and students who wanted to connect. It was a beautiful day. Dr. Shyla said it led to some great conversations, fresh air, and the fun of being out in the community together.

Here’s another fun detail about Dr. Shyla: Every week, she sends out a faculty bulletin to her staff that includes all the nuts and bolts, a calendar for the week, meetings, notes, and of course a quick message.  I asked her if I could share the message from Week 1.  She calls her bulletin: “What’s Good?… For Staff. The idea of taking good care of yourself – straight from Dr. Shyla Rao.” Here’s the first message of the school year:

Faculty Bulletin   September 5-8

Welcome to a brand new school year!  Let’s all begin this year with hope, optimism, and focused attention on our learners.  Let’s make decisions based upon what’s best for the students, and remind each other to maintain a work-life balance for ourselves.

“What are you doing? You ask.

“Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m sawing down this tree.”

“You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?”

“Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.”

“Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?” you inquire. “I’m sure it will go a lot faster.”

“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically.  “I’m too busy sawing!”

Covey, Stephen R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Please take time to sharpen your saw.  I hold true to my Sacred Saturdays (no work, no email, no work texts) every weekend, except for the first and last of each semester. What do you hold sacred for yourself?

-Shyla

How wonderful to start the journey of a new school year, and a new leader, with such an inspiring message of well-being and mindfulness. As much as our students need these messages, so do our teachers and school leaders. We all need to take care of each other. And, as Dr. Shyla is demonstrating, we can have fun doing it!

 

 

Guest blogger:  Kayisha Edwards, Special Educator shares her Thoughts from the Field.

Eyes affixed upon the throngs of books that align the shelves, I can’t help but wonder if the dreamy eyed student is paying attention to the lesson at hand. Is the student processing?  Taking a much needed break from the discussion?  Or perhaps just thinking about life.

In the Middle School Current News Intensive, (Intensive is a time of enrichment and support)  students were encouraged to spend time to ruminate about their dreams. After reading an article about Malala Yousafzai and two Langston Hughes poems, students were eager to connect who they aspire to be to the likes of a resilient young woman and a renowned poet.

In their writing, some students made comments about who they are as dreamers:

“What type of dream am I doing? A lucid dream because I want to be aware and have control over where I go in life.”

“Langston Hughes said something that made me think about my dream, and Malala made me think about how hard she worked to let girls know what she went through in order to rally for education. My dream is to be a beautician and never let that go.”

Other students personally connected with Langston Hughes’s poems:

“What stood out to me is when Hughes says ‘For if dreams die, Life is like a broken winged bird that cannot fly’. What I get from this is if you diminish your dreams then you will lose a big factor of your life. I say that because a big factor of a bird’s life is flying and with a broken wing it can’t do that. So with a dream, if you defer it, then you will lose a big element of your life.”

And others made a connection to Malala Yousafzai:

“Malala’s story is an inspiration to people, including me. Having a dream is not worth anything unless it’s spread to the world. Some say that your dreams have limits, but there is always a way to overcome those limits.”

“Though, it’s easy to have dreams, it’s more difficult to fulfill them. If you really want to become what you seek, you have to work very hard to achieve it. Many people, like Malala Yousafzai, worked extremely hard to do this, and I want to do this, too.”

In these quotes I see the power of giving students time to think. Time for students to sit and stare wherever their eyes become affixed: on a picture, in a book, an article or a poem – and to think about those who have dreamed in the past and whose dreams are making headlines today in an effort to foster robust thoughts and conversations about dreams of their own.

-Kayisha Edwards is a Special Educator at City Neighbors Charter School


This morning we joined together at City Neighbors with the Malone family, leaders from JP Morgan Chase, and the Firefighters crew along with our entire school to receive the gift of land to create a Malone Children Memorial Playground. This is a time of generosity, a time of connections, a time of healing. We are grateful for all who came today to share these feelings on the first day of Spring.

The following are the remarks from the gathering of our wonderful school leader, Kate Seidl, Principal of City Neighbors.

Good morning City Neighbors, invited Guests and friends, Katie and Bill Malone, thank you for joining together this morning, the first day of Spring 2017. Today is the day when there is just as much light in the day as darkness in the night. It is the vernal equinox. It is a day that gets to be one of the hinges of the year. From now on out, the light will increase and lengthen the day. It will be warmer and soon we will want to spend more and more time out of doors, with classmates and families, bathing in sunlight and fresh air.

How fitting it is then, that today we come together to make an announcement that similarly brings more lightness to our community and pulls us to the out-of-doors, to smell flowers, gaze at trees in bloom and hear children’s laughter. Today we are so delighted to be the recipients of a gift from forward thinking people. The gift, from JP Morgan Chase Bank, is for the land, just across the street, that is the site of the soon-to-be-created Malone Children Memorial Playground at City Neighbors.

These fine folks have helped put in place an exciting plan that will demolish the vacant and derelict house at 4310 Raspe Ave and open up myriad possibilities for children and families at City Neighbors and in the entire Cedmont Neighborhood. We are here to say thank you, to show our gratitude for a lasting kindness, the mere idea of which warms us like sunlight.

Since we first heard about the idea of turning this property into a pocket park and playground, many of us at school started imagining what kind of ways we would use it. “Swings!” said many children right away; “Tag; Hide and Seek in the trees,” said others. But also, said a fair few, “a bench for sitting and remembering”- remembering Amelia and Bridgette Malone and their brothers and sisters who died in the fire, whom we miss and think of and love. There may well be singing on the playground and acting and reading and talking with friends, because those are things we did with Bridgette and Amelia and still do now without them, thinking of them. Without a doubt that playground across the street will be filled with the things that children do best- play and laughter, investigations and inventions and marvelling at the world. Because this playground will be filled with the spirit of children.

Yes, we are eager for what is to come this spring, summer and fall in the Malone Children Memorial Playground. And we take comfort in imagining all there will be to do there. And we are so very grateful to have grown-ups in the world to partner with City Neighbors and think of children and put children’s needs first. Thank you. – Kate Seidl

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