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Alt Healthy Manhattan: Coaches for Better Health Page 22 November 24, 2011

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Examining the Human Animal


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Notes from the Neighborhood Compiled by Megan Finnegan Bungeroth & Aspen Matis

Council Member Arrested In a deliberate show of solidarity with community and union leaders during last week’s Occupy Wall Street “Day of Action,” uptown City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito was among those arrested in a group of fellow civillydisobeying protesters. “I’ve been supportive of it since the inception,” Mark-Viverito said of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “It’s resonating with people because of the injustices, and the inequality is so great.” She said being arrested was part of the participation. She and a group of community and labor leaders were taken to Queens Central Booking for processing and released after about five hours with tickets for desk appearances. But MarkViverito hopes that the real action is going to be back in her Upper West Side and East Harlem neighborhoods. “I want to bring this conversation locally into my neighborhood,” she said. “People have been very supportive, not only of me and the positions I’ve taken, but I know people have come down [to support Occupy Wall Street]. I would hope to take this opportunity to make sure to get people politically engaged.”

all-Chopin concert benefiting 2nd-3rd E. 80 Block Association Inc. and All Souls Church Outreach Program. $20 at the door, $15 for senior citizens. All Souls Unitarian Church at 80th Street and Lexington Avenue. Reception and refreshments to follow. For information, email

Christmas Cookies German cookies are good. And so are lebkuchen, christstollen, German gluehwein and coffee amid Christmas décor and cheer. On Saturday, Dec. 3, enjoy Christkindlmarkt—Christmas market— in delicious, German style at Zion St. Marks Church. Food, holiday ornaments and crafts will be on sale. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m, 339 E. 84th St., between 2nd and 1st Aves. For more information, call 212-

479-7808 or visit

Stalker Report A reader alerted us to a possible stalking suspect roaming the streets of the Upper East Side. She tells us that an unidentified man was trailing a woman as she walked on East 77th Street around 8 p.m. Nov. 16. When the man tried to follow her into her building, she confronted him and then ran next door to call police. The perpetrator got away and may have been later apprehended (the 19th Precinct did not return a call requesting information), but the incident serves as a reminder to everyone to be aware of their surroundings and seek help if feeling threatened.

Reducing Dirty Oil

Local civic group CIVITAS is hosting a meeting Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. to let Upper East Siders know how to reduce heating fuel conversion costs in advance of new regulations that will require many home and building owners to convert their fuel burners. Building managers, managing agents and members of co-op boards are encouraged to attend. Ken Camilleri of ICF, a consulting company for Mayor Bloomberg’s Clean Heat program, will answer questions about gas heating versus oil heating. St. James’ Church, Coburn Hall, 865 Madison Ave. RSVP at

That Can-Do Attitude

Occupy Bloomberg Stoop

White House-Worthy Concert

andrew schwartz

A group of Occupy Wall Street protesters camped out near Mayor Bloomberg’s East 79th Street townhouse on Sunday, calling the event the “Occupy Bloomberg’s Mansion Drum Circle Protest And Love-In Art Show” and continuing through Monday afternoon. The protesters denounced police violence, hydrofracking, the expiration of the millionaire’s tax and the bevy of other issues that have driven many to the Occupy movement.

Chopin is king. And when his melodies are performed by a master—classical pianist Sahan Arzruni, in this case—the siren’s call is hard to ignore. On Tuesday, Nov. 29, Arzruni, who has played at the White House, among other exclusive venues, will perform an



Novem ber 24, 2011

Using cans of food, students from Eleanor Roosevelt High School construct a lane of a bowling alley which will include pins and a ball at the World Financial Center as part of the 19th Annual New York City Canstruction Competition and Exhibition. Their design titled “Strike Out Hunger,” was awarded the Cheri Award, so named for the founder of the event. The charity competition features architects, engineers, contractors and students who compete to design and build giant structures made entirely from full cans of food. All of the food from the New York City competition will be donated to City Harvest.



Board’s New Leader Promises Calmer Debates By Megan Finnegan Bungeroth As a 20-year veteran of the Upper East Side, Nicholas Viest has watched the neighborhood change for the better over the past decades and is now in a position to shape its future as the incoming chairperson of Community Board 8. Viest won the seat last week after sweeping an election against the current co-chair of the Transportation Committee, Jonathan Horn. When he presented his case to fellow board members before the vote, Viest emphasized that the reputation of the board is reflected in how they run their meetings and vowed to improve the public perception of CB8, a message that obviously resonated with most of the board. Viest won 34-8 and will replace Jackie Ludorf in January. Ludorf, who ran up against term limits, will remain on the board. “We exist really for the benefit of the public,” Viest said in a recent interview. “By running the meetings efficiently, you allow everyone to have a voice.” Viest diplomatically acknowledged the board’s tendency to engage in heated debates that sometimes devolve into shouting matches. “Ideally you want

[meetings] to be about issues,” he said. “It’s like any human endeavor— people have strong feelings and passions and they emote them.” He hopes that he can drive the board to focus on the substance of the issues at hand and approach them a bit more dispassionately. “As the chairperson, you can set the tone of how the meeting is run, that’s the most important Nicholas Viest. thing,” he said. “You can’t guarantee how everyone’s going to react.” Many of the issues that CB8 deals with now and that Viest anticipates will continue to fill his agenda are quality of life issues like street vendor concerns, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and working with the Parks Department on maintaining and improving the neighborhood’s parks. Viest sees this as the logical progression of an increasingly dense population; while there aren’t as many land use and construction issues to deal with as there have been in the past, partly owing

to a lagging economy, Viest said he’s watched more and more people move to the area and fill the newer residential buildings over the past several years, putting a greater strain on public resources and thus creating more quality of life concerns. Viest works for Lindenmeyr, a family-owned paper company, selling to publishers and retailers. He’s accustomed to juggling many obligations and dividing his professional time between the company’s Westchester headquarters and Manhattan offices. He must also take into account his wife’s schedule—she’s a nightclub manager and works late hours sometimes. In addition to his job and work on the community board, serving as co-chair of the Street Life committee for the past two years, Viest has been a member of the 19th Precinct Community Council since 2000 and currently serves as its president. Working with the police, he said, has

given him great perspective on how the precinct and the community can work together on the most pressing problems facing the Upper East Side. “The majority of calls [to the precinct] are quality of life issues in this area, and those tax the police resources, especially when you have the police force reduced the way it has been,” Viest said. If the community board can help in mediating these kinds of problems, like noise complaints or street vendor questions, then the police will have some of it taken off their hands, he suggested. In looking ahead to the coming year, Viest deflects the focus from his own role as chair and insists that a successful term will be measured by community feedback. He may change some of the co-chairs of the committees, but he is mostly focused on making sure the board reflects the community it serves. As for the quality of life issues, Viest said he doesn’t expect to make them go away, just to make changes that will improve life on the Upper East Side. “Some of these problems are very intractable,” he said. “Doesn’t mean you can’t make progress on them.”


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Senior Park Inches Closer After Dramatic CB8 Meeting By Megan Finnegan Bungeroth Most people in the community agree that a special space for older adult recreation in John Jay Park would be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The idea, presented two years ago by the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association and adopted by Community Board 8, is modeled after similar outdoor senior exercise spaces in China, England and Israel and would carve out a section in the playground for adults only. The area would be fitted with benches, landscaped greenery, picnic tables, rubber safety ground coverings, chess and checker tables, and space for exercise classes as well as equipment. But while the prospect of a free and public spot for relaxation and fitness appeals to many residents, a debate over the execution of the plan has stirred nasty feelings and led to a heated battle at last week’s community board meeting. The Parks Committee co-chairs Barbara Rudder and Peggy Price were ready to present their resolution asking the Parks Department to proceed in developing a plan for John Jay’s renovations while simultaneously seeking additional funding through the Borough President’s

office. City Council Member Jessica Lappin had already secured $250,000 in capital funding for the project, but an initial estimate for a renovation put the

“This is unprecedented behavior on the part of Community Board 8 committee chairs,” said Betty Cooper Wallerstein. “They really hijacked our park and the idea that people had gotten the money for to really make it into something else.” cost closer to $1.4 million. The co-chairs had supported the inclusion of up to six pieces of freestanding exercise equipment, citing the models in other countries that boasted a range of pieces making full-body workouts possible. While some board members and residents voiced support for this plan, others accused the cochairs of plotting to supersede the will of

the people by including more equipment than they wanted and by delaying the long-awaited project. “This is unprecedented behavior on the part of Community Board 8 committee chairs,” said Betty Cooper Wallerstein, resident and former board member, after the meeting. “They really hijacked our park and the idea that people had gotten the money for to really make it into something else.” Barbara Rudder denied that she and her fellow co-chair had any insidious motivations. She said that they wanted to ensure that the project had the most support and funding possible, and that the board should not dictate the specifics anyway. “I just find the whole thing absolutely astounding,” Rudder said of the negative reaction to adding equipment in the park. “We don’t say we want three seesaws and four swings when we want a park. That’s the Parks [Department’s] job. Their job is to design, and then we look at it.” In August, Rudder and Price wrote an email to Manhattan Parks Commissioner William Castro, specifying the request for six pieces of equipment and asking the department to “hold off on plans to construct until next year” in anticipation of

additional funding. Others said at the meeting, however, that the $250,000 was more than enough and that there shouldn’t be further delay. After arguing semantics, member Molly Blayney, a supporter of the less-equipment, sooner-start-date camp, proposed a substitute resolution that asked that the Parks Department proceed immediately in creating a design for the space that would include no more than three pieces of equipment, as recommended by Jessica Lappin’s office. “Several of us felt we were losing sight of the original concept,” Blayney said afterward. Despite the previous tensions, that resolution passed handily, and now the plan is under way. “We have money in a very tight economic time, and I think we should use it while we have it and move forward,” Lappin said, explaining her support for the compromise of three pieces of equipment. Commissioner Castro confirmed that Parks is working on a design to present to the community and hopes to begin construction next spring, with the adult space open by summer.


Romeo Alaeff Examines the Human Animal



andrew schwartz

By Aspen Matis Attributing human behavior and emotions to our animal brethren is as old as the first myth—or, if you want something a little closer, as Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny cartoons. Rarely, however, have they been displayed as poignantly or hilariously as in Romeo Alaeff’s new book of drawings I’ll Be Dead By The Time You Read This being released Nov. 29 by Plume, an imprint of Penguin. The Midtown West-based artist is best known for his sticker art and the years he animated kiddie favorites such as Dora the Explorer and Wonder Pets for Nickelodeon. His newest project was born out of a sticker series that has been slapped on buildings, fences and streetlamps from New York to Paris to Shanghai. I’ll Be Dead matches overheard phrases with drawings of different animals to stunning effect. One page shows a frog saying, “I’m afraid of changing”; on another, a butterfly says, “I wish I could just start over.” The pairings aren’t arbitrary. Alaeff has compiled more than 3,000 sayings that he has overhead everywhere from subway

Romeo Alaeff’s latest book observes the absurdity of the human condition through the eyes of animals. conversations to bar banter. “This project is about how and why we’ve evolved to experience the emotions we do. It’s a humorous way to get people to contemplate their situations,” he said. “Why did we evolve to feel such despair? Most people, in some way, are not completely satisfied with their lives.” The drawings for the book started as a highly successful set of intricate pen-andink drawings.

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“So I made them into stickers. I would give them away and they spread like crazy. I had no idea that they would become what they became. I started getting pictures back of my stickers from Tel Aviv, Iceland, Gabon, the Congo, in front of the pyramids in Cairo, on the glass pyramid of the Louvre— anywhere you can imagine,” he said. Alaeff ’s life has been as varied as his stickers dotting the globe. The native New Yorker has lived in New Orleans, Atlanta, Rhode Island, Texas, Scotland and Berlin, among other places. The success of the animal drawings landed him in Stuck Up Piece of Crap: Stickers from Punk Rock to Contemporary Art last year. He’s currently working on a half-dozen other projects including gallery shows, a children’s book, a new drawing series and his ongo-

ing 16-year documentary series There’s No Place Like You. Despite all of their exposure, the animal drawings still have a soft spot in his heart. “The stickers became interesting to me because people were interacting with them. And that’s why the book is interesting, too—it’s just another way to get people to interact,” he said. The public can interact with the artist and pick up a copy of his book at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 at PowerHouse Arena in Dumbo. There will be drinks, a Q&A, original artwork for sale and a chance to chat with the artist. and Our Town Downtown are co-hosting the party with Penguin and PowerHouse Arena, among others. (Full disclosure: and Our Town Downtown are part of the Manhattan Media publishing family, which publishes Our Town.) As to how many of his animal stickers are currently out there in the world, Alaeff doesn’t have a clue. “Thousands? Tens of thousands? I don’t know. I’ll never know.” For more information, visit N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

10th annual meeting reception & exhibition honoring winners of our 2011 photo contest Thursday, December 8

5:30 - 8:00 pm

Central Synagogue 652 Lexington Avenue (enter at ground floor entrance in East 55th Street)

Free and Open to the public

Hors d’oeuvres and beverages caterd by Food Exchange RSVP to 212-813-0030 or

Partner with your neighbors in East Midtown for our Holiday Food Drive We’re collecting canned and non-perishable food items to benefit the Food Bank For New York City.

Stop In and Drop Off at the East Midtown Partnership Office until December 9, 2011.

875 Third Avenue, Mezzanine New York, New York 10022 Scan the QR Codefor further information, donating details, suggested food items and other ways to make East Midtown one of the best communities in Manhattan.

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CAN’T MAKE IT TO THE DISTRICT OFFICE? Start Your Own Collection and contact us no later than December 7, 2011 to schedule a pick-up!

November 24, 2011




Tea and Sympathy—With an Edge By Mark Peikert Site-specific theater, the latest innovation in freeing audiences from the shackles of the proscenium, went from being an oddball concept to full-fledged event this past spring with the premiere of Sleep No More. A radical, immersive retelling of Macbeth, the Meatpacking District warehouseturned-creepily louche hotel had everyone raving about becoming part of the performance—and producers eagerly booking more intuitive locations for shows. After Woodshed Collective commandeered West End Presbyterian Church this summer for The Tenant, a trio of theater companies are collaborating on the East Side with David Adjmi’s Elective Affinities, performed in a secret Upper East Side townhouse, the address of which is only revealed to ticket buyers. But though Soho Rep, piece by piece productions and Rising Phoenix Repertory are on trend with their production of Adjmi’s one-person show, Adjmi himself is reluctant to describe the site-specific movement as a trend. “I don’t think it should be a trend,” he said. “There are other ways of making theater. I love these nonprofit theaters in

New York and I like the idea of puncturing the habit of what we think theater has to be. I think it’s important that people come to these plays and they’re destabilized.” Audience members will be transformed into visitors to the well-appointed home of octogenarian Alice Hauptmann, played here by Tony Award winner Zoe Caldwell. “On one level, it’s a comedy about a very wealthy woman fighting for her way of life. And on a much more profound level, it’s about a surrender to outside forces,” Adjmi explained. “It’s short and it’s very barbed and it’s very funny. It’s kind of whipped cream and razor blades.” Though Elective Affinities was originally commissioned by the Royal Court Theatre and produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2005 on a stage, Adjmi’s fantasy while writing the play was always that it be performed in an immersive environment. When piece by piece’s Wendy vanden Heuvel—a good friend of Adjmi’s—expressed an interest in including Elective Affinities in a larger festival of plays, Adjmi casually mentioned that he’d always considered the play an ideal candidate for a site-specific production. Of course, transferring what was once

produced on a stage into something that could fit into an actual apartment required some changes. “I have had to tweak things,” Adjmi said. “It’s a whole event now. We’ve constructed an entire simulacrum of this character’s life. There’s all this new stuff, but [director] Sarah Benson and I are having a lot of fun coming up with what that is.”

“On one level, it’s a comedy about a very wealthy woman fighting for her way of life. And on a much more profound level, it’s about a surrender to outside forces,” David Adjmi said. Part of that fun comes from working with a theatrical icon like Caldwell. Adjmi—no slouch in the honorarium department himself, having been awarded, among others, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Writers’ Award and the Kesselring Prize for playwriting—

described the experience of this incarnation of Elective Affinities as “surreal.” “I was so scared of her,” he said with a laugh. “And she was scared of me, because she loves writing and she loves doing this play. And then we met and it was like a love affair. She’s so gentle and so unbelievably humble, and she’s rigorous about the text and the punctuation. I find it incredibly refreshing. I don’t write for grammatical correctness, I write for rhythm and inflection and pacing, and she is a genius with it. I feel like it’s really delicious when we’re in rehearsal together.” Caldwell’s presence—and the chance to watch a pro like her at such close range—is certainly one of the reasons why the entire run of Elective Affinities sold out almost immediately (though some tickets may be made available on the day of performances). But as Adjmi points out, theatergoers are getting a lot more for the cost of their ticket than just stargazing. “The intimacy of being in the room with the person shifts your relationship with the play,” he said. “There’s a conversation happening, so once you’re in the conversation, it just engages different faculties in people.”


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Officers: Michael Mulgrew President, Michael Mendel Secretary, Mel Aaronson Treasurer, Robert Astrowsky Assistant Secretary, Mona Romain Assistant Treasurer Vice Presidents: Karen Alford, Carmen Alvarez, Leo Casey, Richard Farkas, Catalina Aminda Fortino Gentile, Sterling Roberson



November 24, 2011


Middle Schools

High Honors for Middle & High Schools This week we close our Blackboard Award special sections for 2011 with a look at some of the city’s best middle and high schools. It is clear from our honorees that there are many different paths to education success. One principal (at Packer Collegiate) believes in order to maintain his educational “street cred,” it is important to spend time teaching, while another (at the Telecommunication Arts High School) says that the most important thing he can do is support teachers. Some of our honored schools find that an emphasis on the arts (Mark Twain), science (Salk School of Science) or outdoor team projects (Gaynor McCown) is the key to their mission. Blackboard Awards are Manhattan Media’s way of recognizing some of the great schools, principals and teachers in New York City. Editors with Our Town, West Side Spirit and New York Family consult with a team of education experts before making the selections. We will be back in the spring with our annual salute to great teachers. To nominate a teacher or to find out more information, visit Josh Rogers Blackboard Awards, Contributing Editor

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Fostering Scientific Curiosity in the Tradition of Dr. Salk the first polio vaccine. Working with that legacy, the school often brings in doctors and Ph.D. students to teach classes. “We live in New York City,” said Perry, the school’s principal. “It’s this rich place—get people in here.” Through the Urban Advantage program at the American Museum of Natural History, Salk works with several institutions, including the Bronx Zoo, the New York Hall of Science and the New York Aquarium. This also means that learning isn’t lim-

Outstanding Middle School

A student experiments with catapults. O u r To w n NY. c o m 

ited to the campus atop P.S. 40 on East 20th Street. Sixth-graders work with the Zoo to adopt an animal and analyze its behavior. The next year, students work on projects in fields like green energy or oceanography. “We feel like we have a responsibility to really utilize all of the rich cultural institutions here in New York City that put a strong focus on science,” Perry said. Then there’s the Exploratorium, an

photos by andrew schwartz

By Dan Rosenblum To hear Rhonda Perry describe the Salk School of Science, it might seem as if there are no walls. Children go on field trips, scientists and doctors go into classrooms and students work in some of New York’s leading institutions. But it’s just their philosophy to take advantage of the school’s rich location. Doctors from the NYU School of Medicine founded the school in 1995 and named it after Jonas Salk, who created

Students of Salk School of Science on East 20th Street learn lessons from doctors as well as their everyday teachers. annual science fair held in the Museum of Natural History, in which students present their final projects based on a question they have proposed. In June, students had their projects shown after hours in the museum amid an exhibition on the brain. It’s all done to inspire. “Each year, we expect [the students’] level of thinking and the rigors of their work to improve,” she said. Perry, 42, has been at the school since 2001. Since then, the school’s attendance rate and Department of Education performance statistics have remained high. The

school focuses on critical thinking, effective communication and public speaking. But Perry said that even though there is a science basis, language is one of the school’s main engines. “They feel like they really learn to love writing here at the school,” she said. “I think we have a really rich curriculum around writing.” The Salk School’s focus on scientific principles is meant to prepare students for advanced coursework in high school and college. Perry said 65 percent of the school’s continued on page 18

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Middle Schools

Arts and Academics: The Twain Shall Meet Here ates—of about 8,000 annual applicants, only 450 are admitted. In addition to taking a traditional academic test, 5th grade applicants audition for two talent areas of their choice— dance, theater, art, creative writing, media, science, math, music or athletics. Those who make the cut are placed in one of those areas of concentration for the duration of their stay at the school. Mark Twain hopefuls only get one shot at admission, which remains closed for the 7th and 8th grades. Jyoti Jikaria, treasurer of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, has two daughters in the school now and one graduate who went on to study at Stuyvesant. She is starting college at Georgetown this fall. “Getting accepted was the greatest

Band practice at Mark Twain Independent School for the Gifted and Talented.

Outstanding Middle School achievement in their lives,” said Jikaria, 42, whose daughters have all specialized in dance. In addition to Mark Twain’s hardearned recognition in the arts departments, the school ranks No. 4 in the state

Lab work at Mark Twain.



photos by daniel s. burnstein

By Paulette Safdieh While middle school students around the city spend time each night reviewing history notes and racking their brains over math homework (at least we hope they do), the students at Mark Twain Independent School for the Gifted and Talented in Brooklyn do that and more. With a period set aside each day for talent, students at the middle school complement the usual subjects with art, dance, theater and other concentrations. Since opening in 1974, Mark Twain’s rigorous application and admissions process has welcomed some of our city’s most talented youth, with many alumni proceeding to specialized high schools like Stuyvesant and LaGuardia. The administration’s dedication to demanding academics in addition to their ability to hone in on special talents has earned Mark Twain a Blackboard Award as an outstanding school. “This is very exciting and, obviously, we are sharing this with the former principal, Carol Moore,” said Karen Ditolla, 38, who became the school’s principal in September. “We’re all very honored to have been selected.” Ditolla, who earned a master’s degree in school counseling and has extensive experience in the state Department of Education, first began working with Mark Twain back in 2003. She said coordinating its admissions process for a few years gave her a great understanding of how the school oper-

Novem ber 24, 2011

for reading and math numbers. Ditolla attributes this to the focus on rigorous daily instruction as opposed to test preparation. Students receive an additional period of English language arts and math skills, grouped according to their ability. “Our responsibility is to help them progress, whether they’re on the lower or higher end of the spectrum,” said Ditolla. Mark Twain students are divided into groups of 160 and groups are assigned the same four teachers for the duration of the year. Cluster conferences with teachers and parents ensure each student receives focused attention and parents stay involved in their children’s education. “The transition from elementary school to middle school is a tough one,” said Ditolla. “When the children come into this model, it eases the transition because they have a team of teachers who serve them and help them be as successful as they can be.” In addition to gearing up for high school, students at Mark Twain seize the opportunity to prepare for college, too. The foreign language department offers the choice of Italian or Spanish for two periods a week, and 8th graders can take a proficiency exam at year end for college credit. In order to prepare students for a career environment, the only bell that rings in the day is the 2:49 p.m. dismissal bell.

Principal Karen Ditolla of Mark Twain. The school administration plans to work on three goals for the immediate future—incorporating more technology, working with alumni and continuing to build relationships with the city’s specialized high schools. In addition to the recently built computer lab, Ditolla plans to introduce iPads in the classrooms. “My daughters love school,” said Larry Brandman, 51, of his 8th-grader and alumna currently at Stuyvesant. “That’s a great story to tell and one not often heard in today’s school system. I’m happy the school was awarded. They deserve it.” N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

Middle Schools

Looking to Retain ‘Street Cred,’ Principal Returns to Classroom Nevertheless, Reinhardt said he doesn’t devote as much time to interacting directly with students and parents as he’d like due to constant administrative meetings and “assault of emails.” On a recent Friday afternoon, his to-do list, written by hand on a yellow notepad, numbered 31 items. He said that many days he doesn’t

Principal of the Year even have time to use the restroom. To stay closer to students and faculty, Reinhardt decided to get back into the classroom this year as co-teacher of an 8th grade algebra section. “I felt like I was losing my street cred a bit,” he said. Reinhardt, who began working at Packer as a math teacher in 1999, credited his experience at the Brooklyn Heights school with his interest in developing personal connections with students and their families. As a child growing up in

the Newton, Mass., public school system, he hardly had any personal interaction with teachers. “I didn’t see it as a lack at the time,” he said. Reinhardt said that in his first weeks at Packer, he was surprised that many of his students wanted to meet after class to review work and discuss other issues. “I was like, ‘Why?’” he said. “I would have never initiated contact with a teacher.” Reinhardt has three children under the age of 5, and said that being a father has made him more acutely aware of parents’ needs. He said that no experience as a parent has influenced his outlook as an educator more than when he wept on his son’s first day of preschool. “Part of parenthood is managing this enormous sense of loss,” he said. “All of adolescence is about letting go.” Reinhardt worked at Packer for eight years, including a stint in admissions, before taking a job as director of enrollment for The School at Columbia University. He described his tenure at the young school as a formative experience, noting that it taught him to experiment and rethink conventions. Reinhardt added that the experience helped him tre-

daniel s. burnstein

By Max Sarinsky There were a number of changes that Noah Reinhardt planned to institute upon being named division head of the Packer Collegiate Institute’s middle school in 2008. But one of the first moves he made was a purely symbolic one: He cut a rectangular window from his office door and made his deans do the same. Reinhardt said it reflected one of the central tenets of his administration: To be accessible to students navigating a trying stage of life. “There was a feeling of not having as open a line with students as there should be,” Reinhardt said in a recent interview. “I don’t think anyone in this school should have fully closed doors.” Reinhardt has been in middle school education most of his adult life—he began at the Hewitt School on the Upper East Side at age 24—and at 37 he can’t imagine teaching another age range. He said his experience teaching middle school has given him an appreciation of the unique tribulations those students face. “There’s a lot of complicated stuff about being a middle school kid that doesn’t get better,” he said. “I wind up holding a lot of emotion for a lot of people.”

Noah Reinhardt, principal at Packer Collegiate Institute, is co-teaching this year to make sure he stays close to students. mendously in his current role, which he assumed the following year. “I still felt like a 25-year-old,” he said, upon leaving Packer in 2007. “For the first time…I feel like an adult.”

Parents Chart Their Own Course in Washington Heights By Juan DeJesus Many schools strive to be part of the community, but very few are actually built by the community they serve. After hearing complaints from neighborhood parents, Christina Reyes gathered likeminded individuals to help establish a new school. Their goal was to meet the needs she demanded for her pupils at the parochial school at which she was working at the time. Reyes saw the lack of choice for parents in Washington Heights and Inwood and sat down with other volunteers to write the charter for the Inwood Academy for Leadership. She made sure to include a full repertoire of activities and extracurricular choices for students to partake in. Now in its second year, the Inwood Academy for Leadership is led by Reyes, the principal, and serves 220 students in the 5th and 6th grades. But the school is more than just a place where children learn facts about mollusks and fractions; it’s a place they can go to feel safe, secure and able to be themselves. “We offer an engaging, caring, college O u r To w n NY. c o m 

preparatory environment that lets the students become the people they are meant to be,” said Reyes, 33. The school prides itself on challenging students, providing a safe haven for pupils and parents, following up on academic progress and dealing with problems both academic and social. The free charter school offers afterschool programs, youth development, a music program and even a robotics program that gives students a place to stay and learn. “We believe that college success is absolutely vital. We give these students an academically rigorous educational environment that tests them and prepares them for college-level work,” said Reyes. Reyes also noted that they fill the community’s needs for special education and English language learners. “There is a lot of demand for service for these students; we have struck a chord with the population. We make sure that parents and children know they are not treated differently. We work with them to get the best out of the student,” noted Reyes.

But the students are not the only people who enjoy coming to the academy. The community has embraced the school and its student population, and local polit-

Rising Star Middle School ical leaders work closely with the school to ensure parents get quality services. Reyes also likes to point out that the staff also enjoy coming to work. The principal notes the school’s turnover rate for teachers is very low; they have only lost one teacher in two years, who left because she realized teaching was not for her. “The staff come here and know that they have the support of the administration. The students, the staff and the administration are all a family. We are

here to support each other and that shows in their work ethic,” said Reyes, adding that the children see how the teachers act and reflect it in their behavior. The school is growing steadily, and with the growth comes a demand to develop better techniques and initiatives. The staff recently received three weeks of professional development time this summer to prepare themselves for the coming school year. The school is also embarking on a new reading program, “The 100 Book Challenge.” Each student is asked to read for at least one hour per day; the program asks parents to encourage their children to read half an hour at home while the other half is completed during normal coursework. This year, the school is starting its first parent council as a way to involve parents in every step of their children’s development. “We want students to become disciplined independent learners. They will leave accomplished readers and confident leaders, but most of all they will be empowered to go out into the world,” said Reyes.

N o v e mb e r 2 4 , 2 0 1 1



High Schools

Classroom Work Is Only One Part of the Education community members. “There’s a real intentionality about the ACE approach,” said Matthew Haiken, a school board member whose daughter is currently a sophomore. “It’s not all about the academics; it’s very well-rounded.” Recently, students participated in a charity design program called CANtastic to help feed the city’s hungry. Their structure built from food cans stands at the World Trade Center as the first entry in the program by a city high school. Parents are happy to find that academics don’t have to suffer to maintain this balance. Students who succeed at Eleanor Roosevelt demonstrate a strong dedication to learning and, according to Saliani, take home about two hours’ worth of homework each night. “Our kids are committed young learners,” he said. “They expect to be challenged.” Of the 6,200 students who listed Eleanor Roosevelt as one of their top

photos by andrew schwartz

By Paulette Safdieh In just nine years of existence, Eleanor Roosevelt High School on the Upper East Side has earned its second Blackboard Award for Outstanding School. Since local residents rallied together for a community high school, Eleanor Roosevelt has met the challenge. The school’s administration continues to strive for excellence and improve the school based on parent and student feedback—the very idea on which it was first founded. As its seventh graduating class prepares for their final semester, Eleanor Roosevelt has earned recognition for establishing itself as a reputable and academically challenging environment for teenagers. “It really speaks to the work of the community,” said Principal Dimitri Saliani, who has worked at Eleanor Roosevelt since it first opened. “The teachers, students and myself all come here to put in our greatest efforts.”

A student acts out several roles from A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. lar of which is Mock Trial, in which over 60 students participate. Saliani often grants students permission to start their own clubs, including the cheerleading squad (which made headlines for participating in the Making Strides for Breast Cancer walk) and the upcoming Asian Appreciation Club.

Outstanding High School A robotics lab in the Upper East Side school. Saliani, 42, began at the school as a social studies teacher before becoming assistant principal in 2004. Now as principal and the school’s sole administrator, he runs a tight ship and stresses the school’s motto acronym: ACE, which stands for academics, community and ethics. Faculty stress the importance of community service and making ethical decisions, hoping the students will excel beyond the classroom as distinguished people and



choices on their high school applications last year, 125 were granted admission. Enrollment now exceeds 500 students—a big jump from the 105 when the school first opened. The school continues to grow, but class sizes remain between 20 and 30 students for core subjects. The school day ends at 3:30 p.m., but doors often stay open until 6 p.m. Roosevelt offers an extensive selection of after-school programs, the most popu-

Novem ber 24, 2011

“The high school experience goes beyond the classroom,” said Saliani, citing a two-thirds participation rate in after-school programs. “We really want the kids to be able to explore other interests. Success breeds success.” Susan Carr, co-president of the ParentTeacher Association, said Saliani’s efforts to respond to the student body have exceeded her expectations. “When a junior last year suggested we weren’t preparing our students enough in grammar, before you know it, the principal got it all together,” said Carr,

Principal Dimitri Saliani of Eleanor Roosevelt High School. whose daughter is now a senior. “Every freshman and sophomore now has to take a grammar course in addition to the English course.” The school relies heavily on parent and student input. A monthly newsletter started by Haiken last year, as well as the principal’s weekly letter to the school community, keeps parents informed and continued on page 18 N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

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November 24, 2011



High Schools

Individual Attention All in a Day’s Work at Trevor By Tom DiChristopher On a recent Thursday in the lobby at Trevor Day School’s upper school on West 88th Street, students readied themselves for a film shoot. They checked camera settings and positioned actors. Their teacher stood off to the side, asking occasional questions about workflow, but for the most part, the students ran the show. It was an example of Trevor’s

A science experiment at Trevor Day. approach to experiential learning, which the school says is summarized by a Chinese proverb: “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.” The Trevor Day School, overseen by Pamela Clarke, teaches a traditional skills-based curriculum but focuses on creating independent learners and fostering social and emotional development. Founded in 1930, it has grown from a nursery program at the Church of Heavenly Rest on East 90th Street into an institution that offers pre-kindergarten through high school classes and embraces new approaches to education. Academic life revolves around an innovative classroom setup known as the Common Room in middle school and the Center in high school. It’s an open workspace meant to encourage collaboration and respect among students and



Outstanding High School on a program called Moodle, which also allows teachers to coordinate the curriculum. Feigin said the web-based curriculum allows students to learn anywhere and anytime. “We’ve never shied away from innovation or change,” said Feigin. “The students are always at the center of that change.” One of the biggest changes was the overhaul of the high school science program 10 years ago, said Feigin. Rather than focus on one branch of science at each grade level, students study a mix of biology, chemistry and physics.

Novem ber 24, 2011

photos by andrew schwartz

faculty. Students gather here for discretionary time, an hour-long period when they’re expected to manage their own studies. During this period, they might work on group projects or seek tutoring from a teacher. Daniel Feigin, the middle school division director, said the approach gives students ownership of their studies and affords them independence. “We think that, even at this age, it’s something they are capable of. In fact, they’re yearning for it,” said Feigin, 41. The Common Room and Center also support the close relationships that teachers build with students. Beginning in the 6th grade, teachers serve as advisors to the students. They coordinate advisory groups and meet in weekly one-on-one sessions to discuss anything on the children’s minds, whether academic or personal. There are few times in the day when teachers aren’t in contact with students, said Feigin. Whether in the classroom or Common Room, students are immersed in technology. Classrooms are outfitted with SmartBoards, and all students work on laptops beginning in the 5th grade. This year, Trevor piloted an iPad project in the early childhood program, using apps to complement children’s books. Students can check their grades

The Center at Trevor Day School is a place where high school students consult individually with an adviser every week. Math teachers coordinate with science faculty to give students the skills they need to complete lab work. The school believes the program gives students a holistic understanding of scientific concepts. About 50 percent of its students attend Trevor from kindergarten through 12th grade. In the lower school located across town on East 95th Street, teachers begin the work of developing students’ social and emotional well-being. Students get specialized attention in small group study sessions while their classmates take enrichment classes. Lily Shum, 40, the assistant director of the lower school, said strong relationships built on ongoing communication are the foundation of learning at Trevor. “It’s knowing where the child’s comfort zone is and stretching the child just beyond the comfort zone—because that’s where the risk-taking and the learning happens,” Shum said. Teachers constantly assess the children and avoid making assumptions about a student’s understanding of a topic, said Shum. When a student asks a question, a teacher will often reply with a question. In an art studio in the elementary school, a 4th grader told his teacher that he wanted to do origami. Instead of giving him a lesson

Pamela Clarke, Head of Trevor Day School. on it, she asked if he had done origami before and whether he’d like to look at a book on it. In the fall of 2013, Trevor will enter a new era: The upper school will move from its current location on West 88th Street to a new campus on East 95th Street and the lower school will take over the West 88th Street building. N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

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November 24, 2011



High Schools

Minding Mind & Spirit at Molloy By Alexander Tucciarone On the morning of Nov. 10, Brother Tom Schady woke up to some difficult news: His mother had passed away. Heading into work, he knew he could count on support at Archbishop Molloy High School, the Queens prep school where he is the principal. As he walked the school’s hallways that day, he was stopped by students, teachers and administrators offering their condolences. A strong sense of community is a defining trait of Molloy, a prestigious Catholic Marist school that has produced alums like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Founded in 1892, Molloy is known for its selectivity and rigorous academics. But for Schady, it all comes down to the students. “I say this humbly, but we really do have the most spirited group of kids,” he said. “They all believe that this is their second home.” Richard Karsten, the president of Molloy, echoed that sentiment. “Our students are outstanding, and are hands down our best spokespeople,” he said. Adrienne, a Molloy senior from

Flushing, was initially attracted by the school’s stellar academic reputation and selectivity. After visiting Molloy and witnessing the school’s familial atmosphere, she committed. “When I first came to see it, it just felt so comfortable,” Adrienne said. “It’s small enough that you feel like a close-

Outstanding High School knit community here.” Molloy’s motto is “Not for School but for Life,” and the school’s comprehensive approach prepares young men and women not just for college but for adulthood. The school offers 21 college-level courses, and 99 percent of Molloy’s graduates go on to attend four-year colleges. Sister Elizabeth Bickar, an assistant principal, has been at Molloy for 33 years.

fully selects sophomores and matches them to seniors with similar backgrounds and personalities. The groups meet every other day to hold rap sessions where they discuss the full range of challenges young people face in their daily lives. Molloy also fosters strong ties within the student body by holding regular retreats in Esopus, N.Y., an upstate community where the Marist brothers maintain an estate. One of the traditional activities at these retreats is a team-building game called “Flag.” The game is unique to Molloy and involves offensive and defensive lines working together to grab a flag in the middle of a field. “It’s basically Steal the Bacon on steroids,” said Karsten, the school president. “It’s an activity that teaches the students teamwork and exertion.” Karsten graduated from Molloy in 1981 and is proud that so many of his fellow alums have a strong attachment to their high school. “We have terrific alumni support and host events that keep drawing them back,” he said. “We have many people who step up to help us out. Because of this we are financially healthy and fiscally sound.” Bickar is not surprised by this generosity. “Our students leave here understanding that the character they build by the education here is a lived experience and not just an intellectual one.”

“I came planning to stay for five years but absolutely fell in love with the place,” she said. “Our teachers are superb; they teach well and genuinely care about the students.” Pauline, a senior from Elmhurst, recently read The Clan of the Cave Bear in her advanced placement literature course. To her, the approach her teacher took in studying the novel was typical of her experience at Molloy. “My teacher is inspiring in the way she goes above and beyond,” Pauline said. “Instead of just reading the book from a literary angle, she made us think beyond that and we looked at the book from the perspective of anthropology and archaeology.” Stephen, a senior from Fresh Meadows, remembered the support he received when his aunt passed away. Distraught over the loss, a guidance counselor consoled him. “Brother Norton just let me cry it out,” Stephen said. “The support he gave me inspired me to become a peer group leader.” The peer groups are part of Molloy’s effort to foster cohesion in the student body and help them through the challenges of growing up. The program care-

Taking Care of Students by Taking Care of Teachers



dents in a bigger way. “In some ways, I have the least specific job description of anybody in the building,” he said. “I get to wander into different rooms and activities and just see

Principal of the Year what’s happening.” A major part of Weinberg’s job is to make sure that teachers are effectively communicating material to their pupils. “There’s nothing more satisfying than sitting in on a lesson and seeing a child’s eyes light up when he understands something a teacher just explained,” he said. Weinberg said the best piece of advice he ever received about being a principal came from his predecessor. “He would say, ‘Everyone’s going to tell

Novem ber 24, 2011

you your job is about the kids, and that’s not necessarily so. Your job is about the staff. They have to be able to take care of the students and you have to be able to take care of them.’” Though Weinberg said he enjoys the time he spends with the students, direct involvement with them is not his main priority. “The hard work with the kids, the teaching, is being done by people other than myself,” he said. “My job is to help set the direction for how that happens.” Weinberg emphasized, however, that his door is always open to students, teachers and staff to discuss any problems or concerns that may arise. Over the last 10 years, Weinberg has seen many successes at the school, including a “College Readiness” grade on the most recent Department of Education high school progress report that was double the New York City high school average. Weinberg’s favorite day of the year is at the end of November, “Professional continued on page


daniel s. burnstein

By Ashley Welch If you had asked Philip Weinberg as a child what he wanted to be when he grew up, he most likely would not have said a school principal. “As a kid, I wanted to be quarterback for the Giants,” he said with a laugh. Yet, as he grew older, Weinberg discovered he was better suited for the classroom than the football field. “When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to have very fine teachers,” he said, “and I was able to do some work in our local junior high school. Teaching was always something I had considered. It seemed like a very natural place for me to go.” Weinberg, who joined the New York City public school system in the 1980s, was an English teacher and assistant principal at the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn before becoming its principal in the middle of the 2000-2001 school year. Though Weinberg, 51, said he enjoyed teaching, being a principal offers a unique opportunity to impact the lives of stu-

Philip Weinberg, principal of the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology, says the best advice he got was from his predecessor, who said, “Everyone’s going to tell you your job is about the kids, and that’s not necessarily so. Your job is about the staff.” N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

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O u r T o w n N Y. c o m 

November 24, 2011



High Schools

Beyond ‘Chalk & Talk,’ Students Are Bound for the Outdoors By David Gibbons It’s not often you encounter an educational institution with the label “expeditionary” attached to it. What does this mean, and how does it reflect Gaynor McCown’s special citation for special needs? Hint: It has something to do with camping out. Located in the New Springville section of Staten Island, Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School is one of a growing network of small college preparatory schools—now numbering 11 in all five boroughs—jointly operated by the city Department of Education and Outward Bound. These schools harbor students who are fully engaged and committed to developing both their academic and leadership skills. There are currently more than 165 of them across the country. The Outward Bound expeditions tend to have a transformative effect on students who aren’t doing well in class; they learn to take personal responsibility for their work and their performance improves. At McCown, each 9th grade student is assigned to a crew of about 15, which

Salk School

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graduates go on to specialized schools like Stuyvesant High School, the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Tech. Because of this, the school can afford to be selective about its students. Every year, hundreds of District 2 parents compete for only 132 6th-grade seats. Perry said they generally only consider applications where the Salk School is the student’s first choice. During admissions, the school conducts interviews with a science test. Perry said potential students don’t need a prior science interest, but they have to be able to work in groups to solve problems. They’re evaluated on their writing, observations and grades. Because of citywide budget cuts, attrition has eliminated a lead teacher and a special educator position. This cut the



meets daily with a teacher/adviser. Members are selected for social diversity—that is, kids are matched with others from outside their usual social orb. Beyond academics, crews discuss a wide range of topics including “teen issues,” with the goal of nipping potential problems in the bud. Entering freshmen go

Special Needs Education & ol Innovative Scho Mission on a five-day wilderness trip called “crew orientation.” Many return surprised at the fact that they succeeded in activities and exhibited traits they never would have imagined of themselves. The school, which opened in 2008, is named in honor of renowned educator and outdoorswoman the late Rosemary Gaynor McCown. The school follows Outward Bound’s motto, “High achieve-

number of teachers to 23, Perry said. “That hurts kids, obviously, because it’s nice to have a few extra people on staff so you can build in extra supports for kids and professional development time for teachers to plan,” she said. But she said the loss doesn’t impede the school’s mission. Soon, the school will partner with green education center Solar One to send kids to its Green Design Lab. The school also plans to add an equipment room to the fourth floor science lab. And Perry is making sure the sense of curiosity and scientific rigor isn’t limited to students. Perry said that when looking at potential teachers, she looks for people just as curious and open-minded as the students. She said she looks for teachers kids can look up to, because what happens in the school determines what happens outside. “We’re remodeling a certain way of being in the world for people,” she said.

Novem ber 24, 2011

ment through challenge and support;” it has also adopted McCown’s favorite saying: “Make a mark. Make a difference.” Students tackle real-world problems, do fieldwork, consult with professional experts and write extensive reports, which are often presented in public forums. A drama class analyzed traditional fairy tales, went to see a Broadway production and for their final project wrote and produced Twisted Fairy Tales for a schoolwide performance. A 10th grade global history class studying the bubonic plague in the Middle Ages hosted a lecture by an epidemiologist and wrote final projects incorporating comparisons to modern epidemics such as smallpox and swine flu. “It’s not just chalk and talk,” said Traci Frey, McCown’s principal since 2009. “It’s about putting the learning in the kids’ hands and taking the classroom outside of the school. Last year, we brought in one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen to talk to a U.S. history class. He said everything was fine when they were soldiers—they could die for their country just like everybody else. Then, when they came home, they were still black men

who had to fight for their civil rights. The kids were riveted; he really made it come to life for them.” Of McCown’s 400 students, 25 percent are in special education, and the entire school community has made a great effort to provide them with the extra services they need. In addition, the school’s tone is on the upswing. The newly created student government has spawned initiatives in volunteer work, peer mentoring and enrichment. McCown students now wear their school uniforms with pride, which was not always the case early on. Frey attributes McCown’s success to her staff’s hard work and dedication to professional development, their team approach to reviewing student work and intervening to help struggling individuals and their commitment to a partnership with parents. McCown’s Regents Exam results have exceeded both peerschool and citywide ranges and, Frey noted, it has received “additional credit for exceptional gains.” The school won’t receive its overall grades until it graduates its first senior class next June, but all signs point to an excellent report card on the way.



continued from page


appreciative. “We feel like we won the lottery in a lot of ways,” said Marybeth Walsh, who shares the PTA presidency with Carr. The faculty strive to provide focused attention for each student through the school’s advisory program, where students stay paired with an advisor for all four years. Ninth-grade advisory meetings focus on adjusting to high school, sophomores focus on community service and juniors on looking ahead to college. The college preparation continues well into the 12th grade, with counselors guiding students through the application process. “My daughter’s relationship with her teachers is incredible—they really know her,” said Carr. “It’s bittersweet that she’s graduating. I just don’t know how to separate myself from the school.”

continued from page


Day,” when the seniors hand in their college applications to the guidance office. Dressed in suits and professional attire, the students line up in the main hallway and receive “I applied to…” stickers to wear all day. “It’s really turned into a schoolwide celebration of what is the culminating activity of their time with us,” he said. However, Weinberg said he is always trying to find ways to improve the overall quality of the school. “I spend time every day talking with my staff about ways to make the school better,” he said. “What are we doing that we could do better? What are we not doing that we should do in order for the students to have a better experience? Those are conversations that if we don’t engage in, I think we’ve failed.” N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

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November 24, 2011



High Schools

Math & Humanities Charters Represent a New Vision By Linnea Covington The phrase “two is better than one” can be easily applied in the case of a pair of new charter schools in the Bronx. Conceived by New Visions, an organization that has opened more than a hundred schools across the city, the two institutions, one for advanced math and science and the other for humanities, are the first charter programs they have launched. “They aren’t your normal charter schools,” said Julia Chun, principal of New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science. “Our population reflects more of the neighborhood and mandates that District 10 gets priority.” Because it’s their first year, the schools only have 9th-grade classes, both with 125 students, but will be going all the way through 12th grade. Though plenty of average teens attend the school, they focus on bringing special-needs students and English language learners into the program, too. Also, the two schools share the Kennedy campus with five other non-charter schools, which gives them an advantage when it comes to sports, auditoriums and, soon, a major library. “We wouldn’t be able to do that if we were just some small mom-and-pop char-

ter school,” said Seth Lewis Levin, principal of New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities. “We get the resources of a larger school in small school setting.” In Chun’s program, they focus on numbers and nature, though the teaching methods prove a little different than most programs. For one, instead of just teaching the kids about the government, they learn how to make their own. “They are taking lessons and applying them to the student body, which helps make it a real world situation,” said Chun. “It’s really powerful when kids make that connection.” Another example is applying algebra to litter found in the street. By counting the number of plastic cups on the ground and calculating how many get thrown

“We wouldn’t be able to do that if we were just some small mom-and-pop charter school,” said Seth Lewis Levin, principal of New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities. out a day, students not only find a reason for the formula to work, but also see the environmental impact based on the data

they gathered. On the same floor, Levin works along a similar vein as Chun. He too believes that in order for kids to learn, they need

New & Noteworthy High School hands-on experiences. “For kids to succeed you can’t just think of reading, writing and arithmetic, you have to think about what is going to engage them toward higher learning,” he said. “You can only do that if what you are asking them to do is meaningful and relevant to them.” So instead of just looking at exhibits in a museum, the kids get an opportunity to actually touch, smell, feel and see ancient artifacts up close. “A good humanities student is someone who is well versed and well balanced in many of schools of thought,” said Levin. “And, they have an opportunity to try a lot of things, like taking a dance class to see how it goes. In the end, it will help them think about the world differently.”

The students also put a lot of effort into preparing for college. In both schools they are drilled with English and writing assignments, even having to write essays for the math and science classes. Since the charter schools run longer than most regular public schools, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., this gives the students an opportunity to have more study hours and personal help. “Not all kids learn in the same way— some need to touch, write, draw, listen or talk about it,” said Levin. “This school brought that model in a more flexible setting since we have more flexibility to administer, teach and innovate.” Originally from Boston, Levin was assistant principal at a pre-kindergarten to 8th grade institution in Cambridge, Mass. He also taught social studies and museum education at the high school level before accepting his current position. Chun’s previous jobs include assistant principal at another Blackboard honoree, Salk School of Science, and a facilitator for New Visions’ leadership development program. “It was super interesting to be able to do something new and start the school after seeing different schools across the city,” said Chun. Levin added, “I think this school is one of the most exciting things as we get to watch the revitalization not only of learning in the children, but of an entire community.” 20


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Coaching Diabetics Treat the Mind and the Sugars Will Follow By Lisa Elaine Held


iabetics live in a world ruled by measurements and numbers. Doctors and other health care workers, such as Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs), tell them what their blood sugar numbers should be, how to measure them and how much insulin to take. But while numbers are crucial to controlling the disease, they make up just a tiny snapshot of the larger picture of diabetes management, a process that has emotional, psychological and social challenges. Now, a small but growing sector of professionals is seeking to address those challenges through varied styles of coaching and counseling. In doing so, they believe they can help individuals accept and control the disease and live healthier, happier lives as a result. “There’s a whole psychology behind it that goes beyond what are you eating and what your numbers are,” said Dana Hariton McQuade, a New York City life coach who works primarily with diabetics. “How you value yourself and how you take care of yourself are affected by how you embrace the disease.” McQuade primarily works with women, many of whom are dealing with social challenges like dating while wearing an insulin pump or managing pregnancy or motherhood and blood sugar at the same time. Some of her clients harbor anger at their own misfortune, as did a 30-year-old woman she worked with who resented her disease and therefore had a hard time taking control of it. Eliot LeBow, a New York social worker who counsels diabetics, said that anger is a huge issue with many of his clients, along with depression. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011 reported that people with diabetes are twice as likely to battle depression. They are also often misdiagnosed, said LeBow. If blood sugar levels are not under control, diabetics may



Novem ber 24, 2011

exhibit the same symptoms as those suffering from clinical depression. “If their blood sugar levels are always high, they’re going to be lethargic and have no motivation and basically feel depressed,” he said. In addition, the process of diabetes management is extremely stressful. It requires constant attention and measurement and is full of ups and downs each and every day. Doctors and CDEs in clinical settings don’t usually have the time to look at the larger picture. They can tell patients what their numbers should be and the biological changes they need undergo to get there, but they won’t determine what in the patient’s life needs adjusting in order to make that happen. That’s where life coaches and counselors come in. “When I get a new client in, I look at the whole picture,” said LeBow. After determining what they need to work on, he guides them through making positive changes. “Most go on to have their blood sugar under control, and their emotional life gets better.” This was true for Sysy Morales, a 28-year-old mother of twins who started a blog called The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes after getting her disease and depression under control with the help of a health coach. Morales said her coach mostly listened to what she said and then asked interesting questions she wouldn’t have thought to ask herself. This made her realize what

the roots of her issues were and gave her a new sense of clarity. “Using positive thinking helped me, and I worked on changing my diet and lifestyle habits,” she said. “Getting out of the depression made me able to take care of my diabetes and that, in turn, made my mood even better.” The woman Morales went to for help was a health coach. McQuade is a life coach, and LeBow is a licensed social worker. While their credentials and approaches are slightly different, they’re all working to address the emotional and psychological challenges associated with a disease that is often looked at as purely biological. Most coaches and counselors in this field have another thing in common—they’re diabetics themselves. McQuade and LeBow were both diagnosed as children, a factor that allows them to understand their clients in a more profound way. Their services tend to be sought out mainly by individuals with Type 1 diabetes. This may be because of their personal experience with Type 1, or because those living with Type 1 are dependent on insulin, making management a more difficult, consuming process. If the field continues to grow, it may expand to reach a larger population. “I’m trying to get other people on board,” said LeBow, “so people will know that therapy is a big part of managing diabetes.”



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How to Become a Life Coach L ife coaching is a rapidly expanding field, and although there is no legally required course work to declare yourself a life coach, there is a recognized certification organization: the International Coaching Federation. Here are a few Manhattan-based programs to get certification: Columbia Coaching Certification Program 525 W. 120th St., 212-678-8240, $900–$8,700 The Teachers College at Columbia University and Columbia Business Schools together offer the Columbia Coaching Certification program. Students focus on learning guiding principles such as ethics, core competencies that help establish successful relationships with clients and the overall coaching process. Columbia offers five-day intensives for individuals looking to establish life coaching as a profession (external coaching) and for those looking to incorporate it into their existing jobs (internal coaching). Students have the option to continue on to coaching practicum, a semester of in-field coaching work, and a five-day wrap up advanced coach intensive for T:10”

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By Lucille Barish As a unified concept in psychotherapy, life coaching is a recent addition to the field—and many psychotherapists still do not consider life coaching a legitimate part of the psychotherapy process. They see life coaching as a resource for emotionally together people who want to expand themselves in new ways with higher aspirations and psychotherapy as a process of exploring the past with emotionally disturbed people in order to help them understand how dysfunctional early life has negatively impacted them as adults. They see therapists as listening in a non-directive way, allowing clients to come to realizations on their own at their own pace. However, psychotherapy is much more complex than empathic listening and realization. Many clients have never learned to develop the skills needed to grow up in healthy ways. Their “foundations” are weak and very vulnerable to self-loathing, anger, depression, anxiety and feelings of helplessness from lack of good-enough parenting. Or they may become traumaffernandez/Susana Marquez

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a certification in coaching. The program can be completed in as little as eight months, although schedules can be stretched out over longer periods of time. Coaching for Transformation at the New York Open Center 22 E. 30th St., 212-219-2527, $5,485 The accredited program trains 36 people in each class in addition to one- and two-day seminars, which draw about 25 people twice a year. The courses are designed to accommodate the lives of busy, working professionals. NYU School of Continuing and Professional Services 7 E. 12th St. #923, 212-998-7100, $895–$995 Students can choose to specialize in Personal/Life Coaching or Organizational/ Executive Coaching as part of the leadership program and are required to complete seven classes. Mandatory instruction focuses on decision-making and communication and motivational skills, and may be complemented with courses in marketing and human relations.

tized later on by things like rape or warrelated horrors. Clients who come to us are lost, anxious or depressed, and often act out their pain through anger and have little internal sense of reality to help them deal with the world. And while it is important for therapists to help clients understand their past and how it impacts the present, it is also vital that they feel they can ask for advice and concrete help and that we therapists feel comfortable in giving them that guidance.They often need very direct tools on how to deal with troubling issues, education about how healthy relationships work, how to be better parents, how to deal with difficulties regarding jobs and career, sexuality, spirituality, separation, etc.This is what good-enough parents do for their children and what good-enough therapists must often do for their clients. And when they are successful in dealing with issues in which we have guided them, they need our reinforcement and our pleasure in their learning and growing. Surely this is a form of life coaching, whether acknowledged as such or not, that is vital to the therapy process. I am quite sure good-enough therapists have always been life coaches, even before it was called “life coaching.” Lucille Barish is a licensed clinical social worker.


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The 80th Street Residence is the first in the city to receive the New York State Department of Health licensure as an Assisted Living Residence (ALR) with certificates allowing the entire community to serve as both an Enhanced Assisted Living Residence (EALR) and a Special Needs Assisted Living Residence (SNALR). With these new certifications 80th Street is now able to provide additional specialized care and services for its Residents, all of whom suffer from cognitive impairment. Clare Shanley, Executive Director says, “The 80th Street Residence has always been devoted to providing excellent care and specialized services to our Residents. In fact, our program was the Nation’s first to receive The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s ‘Excellence in Care’ award. Now with the highest level of licensing for Assisted Living, in addition to providing our unique program, we are able to offer families the peace of mind in knowing that their loved ones may now age in place and receive more nursing care should they need it in the place they call home.” Fully Licensed by the New York State Department of Health, The 80th Street Residence is the only dedicated assisted living community in New York City Specializing in Memory Care. In their boutique setting, 80th Street offers unique neighborhoods, each composed of no more than eight to ten Residents with similar cognitive abilities. All neighborhoods have cozy and homelike dining and living rooms and are staffed 24 hours a day with personal care attendants. The intimate setting allows for an environment that is conducive to relaxation, socialization, and participation in varied activities. A true jewel of care on the Upper East Side.

By Linnea Covington glasses lightly balanced on her nose. Sometimes you want to go where “It must be a stinky pond,” chuckled everyone knows your name—even if Irene. that place has nothing to do with drinkNext to the one Scrabble table, a gaging. Since its inception 10 years ago, the gle of older women gossiped, threw down Jewish Community Center on the Upper cards and wrote down numbers. West Side has offered beverages to the Created in 1939 in South America, dozens of seniors who come on Mondays canasta has many variations across the and Tuesdays to play a variety of games, world. It gained popularity in the 1950s, but the Pepsi, seltzer and ginger ale aren’t the same era in which Scrabble made why people come. it big and the era in which many of the “I like the games and the people,” said women now playing at the JCC were just 86-year-old Harry as he placed an “R” on starting their families. the plastic board in front of him. “And For this particular table, it appeared other places don’t have Scrabble.” Harry, like many of the seniors in the JCC game room, declined to give his last name. He was one of three main Scrabble players, and the only man who showed up to compete that Monday. The rest of the room consisted of women, most playing canasta, some loudly and some so concentrated they constantly shushed in the general Monday canasta at the Jewish Community Center. direction of the ruckus. Not long ago, bridge was also popular in that winning was just a bonus—the real this space, but those players long ago for- pleasure was seeing the group. For pure feited their table in favor of a quieter spot. excitement, they also attend Tuesday’s On this November afternoon, the mah-jongg tournaments. low winter light of the large, pale-greenAbout six years ago, the JCC started carpeted room resonated peace as the offering mah-jongg classes. The interestsun’s glow softened the angles of the ed parties have since grown from about harsh square card tables. By 3:30, just half eight people to the 70 players registered an hour before the room closed to play- today. Every Tuesday, the room fills with ers, the energy pushed higher until the women, many sporting close-cropped silshort, round ladies with cropped hair and ver hair, sparkly jewelry and fashionable bright red and purple jackets sitting clos- clothes. est to the door gave in and stopped caring “If you aren’t nice or high-mainteif people were talking. nance, please don’t come,” said Rhonda, In the center of the room, at one of the her advice seconded by the nodding of other six tables, Irene, 83, made her move. heads and gentle laughter. “K-A-T: kat,” she said, simultaneously As the group of ladies leaves to have a spelling the word “tank” on the board. drink and a nibble at a Japanese restauNext, Louise, their star participant rant across the street, the three Scrabble who also plays the viola in the orches- players remain happy in their own world. tra at St. Luke’s, added an “S,” forming Louise, the youngest of the faction, won “stank.” this round, but she has the advantage of “Is that really a word?” questioned practicing the game on her smartphone. Harry, as he reached for the official Still, Harry grinned and pointed to Scrabble dictionary. After serving in the Irene. “She’s famous, you know, because Navy during World War II and working of the hurricane.” as a Supreme Court Clerk, he doesn’t let And even though she didn’t win this anything fly. round of Scrabble, the white-haired wom“A stank is a pond,” replied Louise, an looked at me and smiled. “It’s because 64, as she peered into the dictionary, her I am a force to be reckoned with.” N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

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Dewing Things Better


Tom Allon CFO/COO Joanne Harras group PUBLISHER Alex Schweitzer Director of Interactive Marketing and Digital Strategy Jay Gissen


Executive editor Allen Houston Special Sections Editor Josh Rogers staff reporter Megan Finnegan Bungeroth Photo Editor/Editorial Assistant Andrew Schwartz Featured Contributors Nancy J. Brandwein, Alan S. Chartock, Bette Dewing, Jeanne Martinet, Malachy McCourt, Lorraine Duffy Merkl, Josh Perilo, Thomas Pryor

ADVERTISING Publisher Gerry Gavin director of new business development Dan Newman Associate Publishers Seth L. Miller, Ceil Ainsworth Advertising Manager Marty Strongin special projects director Jim Katocin senior Account Executives Verne Vergara, Rob Gault, Mike Suscavage Director of events & marketing Joanna Virello Marketing coordinator Stephanie Musso Marketing Assistant Jessica Christopher Executive Assistant of sales Jennie Valenti

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OUR TOWN is published weekly Copyright © 2011 Manhattan Media, LLC 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor New York, N.Y. 10016 Editorial (212) 284-9734 Fax (212) 268-2935 Advertising (212) 284-9715 General (212) 268-8600 E-mail: Website: OUR TOWN is a division of Manhattan Media, LLC, publisher of West Side Spirit, Our Town Downtown, Chelsea Clinton News, The Westsider, City Hall, The Capitol, The Blackboard Awards, New York Family and Avenue magazine. To subscribe for 1 year, please send $75 to our town, 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10016 Recognized for excellence by the

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Thanksgiving for Family Values By Bette Dewing Andy Rooney once said, “In some small way, I always hoped my words were doing some little bit of good.” He added that most writers feel that way. And now I can’t find the exact quote, but that might have prompted Rooney’s son Brian to say, “Well, maybe he should have retired some time ago.” Yup, he said that about his dad on a recent episode of CBS’ The Early Show, which I serendipitously happened to catch. His remark about his elder father’s snail’s-pace walk lacked understanding for his disability or how it might feel to his dad. This is the image we need to see more of on a public level: how elders struggle to stand, walk, see, hear, speak or remember. Rooney rarely talked about his four offspring, several grandchildren and one great-grandchild. I learned from his obituary that his son lived in Los Angeles and his three daughters lived, respectively, in London, Boston and Chevy Chase, MD. There was no mention of how their parents felt about that. It took an Internet search to learn of

grandson Justin Fishel’s funeral remembrance of the time he spent alone with his grandfather and how close he felt to him. His granddad did go public about one extensive visit they had without his parents’ presence—but what about grown-up visits after Justin’s grandmother died in 2004 after 62 years of marriage to his grandfather? Now, if these words are not doing your mood any good, keep in mind the “no pain without gain” truth. I’m emboldened by Rosalind Panepanto’s letter to the editor calling me “a voice for the voiceless.” (And bless Rosalind for being a key organizer of St. Stephen of Hungary’s Thanksgiving dinner for the community and, especially, for those I call the “family poor.”) How I wish the president’s Thanksgiving day message would include the last part of the December/January Reader’s Digest cover story, “Michele Obama’s Family Values.” Thankfully, her family values are the extended kind. Not only is her mother an invaluable caregiver for the first daughters, but, in the first lady’s own words:

“My mom has always been there for me, but now I don’t have to telephone, I just have to walk up to her room and plop down on the couch and vent. She listens and tells me to get it together and I do…she’s always a wonderful sounding board—objective and with no-nonsense common sense. “She will tell you the truth. She doesn’t mince words, but her love is unconditional. One reason I talk about her is because I think having that intergenerational interaction in families is key. I still feel I need that mature shoulder to lean on who can kind of keep my head on straight. Every woman needs that. Every mother needs that. Every family needs that.” Amen! And so do every man and every father—regardless of age. Here’s to the “family rich” as well as the family poor—not only on holidays. And here’s to learning that the words that do the most good are the communication skills kind, because what to say over the plate is more important than what’s served on top of it. P.S. I am thankful for you.

new york gal

An Open Letter to OWS By Lorraine Duffy Merkl Dear OWS, You are not the only ones who are part of the 99 percent. How do you expect the rest of us non-1-percenters to support you if your actions are hurting us? I was with you (figuratively, not literally) in the beginning. I believe in our rights to rise up and congregate to show our elected officials the number of citizens who are tired of being jobless with no prospects on the horizon; to express resentment that, while many watch their unemployment run out, others are cashing bonus checks—we’re all suffering from bailout burnout. I never thought I’d ever agree with anything said by Eliot Spitzer, but in the Oct. 21 issue of New York Magazine, he gave an interview that echoed exactly how I felt. “If [the protesters] are down in Zuccotti Park six months from now… Trust me, the media won’t be paying as

Novem ber 24, 2011

much attention if it’s just the same couple hundred people. Just as with a chess game, there’s got to be a next move.” Like him, and like everyone else, quite frankly, I have been waiting for that move. But you just parked yourself in the park. I couldn’t help but begin to resent the disservice you’ve done to our city, which former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani spent so much effort cleaning up. Manhattan depends on tourism. How many have been scared away by anticipated violence? I realize many of you have no jobs, but is your goal really to make sure anyone who is employed joins you on the unemployment line? And then there are the lives of those who live in the neighborhood that have been disrupted, as well as the commuters whose way you’re in. FYI: A Lower Manhattan-destined field

trip at my daughter’s school was cancelled. What did a bunch of 7th graders ever do to you? You know who else is part of the 99 percent? The police. They are doing their jobs when they clear you out or move you along via orders from the mayor. BTW: Did no one ever tell you that they carry guns, billy clubs and handcuffs, and that they will arrest you—and fight back—if you raise your hand to them? Your two months of protest seems like two decades in a city that measures time in New York minutes. Sometimes I get so frustrated with all of you; I just want to say, “Get a job.” But I guess if you could, you wouldn’t be out there in the first place. Lorraine Duffy Merkl’s debut novel Fat Chick, from The Vineyard Press, is available at and N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

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Our Town November 24, 2011  

The November 24, 2011 issue of Our Town. Founded more than three decades ago, Our Town serves the East Side of Manhattan from Turtle Bay to...

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