Winter 2018 Gaynor Gazette

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Grant Duers, Co-President Ericka Leslie Horan, Co-President Kass Lazerow, Co-Vice President Hamburg Tang, Co-Vice President Jay Kramer, Treasurer Jillian Neubauer, Secretary Andrew Bast Kristine Baxter Hillary Blumberg Patterson Chiweshe Carol Feinberg Dr. Mary Fitzpatrick *Dr. Scott Gaynor, Head of School Oscar Gil Vollmer *Adina Haller, President of Parents’ Association Henrietta Jones Steven Kobre Elizabeth Mily *Yvette Siegel-Herzog, Co-Founder and Director of Education Gordon Uehling


WHAT’S INSIDE? 1 2 4 8 9 10 13

*Ex officio members


Jo Ann Gaynor Dr. Gordon Gaynor


Susan Wine Bender Benjamin Hamilton Seth Kramer ’97 Traci Lester Darya Mastronardi Gail Ross, Ph.D. Jeff Tarr Josh Weiner

Editor: Deanna Ferrante Assistant Editor: Kathryn Greene Design: Di Vision Creative Group, New York Photography: Brett Deutsch, Deanna Ferrante, Adam Gaynor, and Kathryn Greene Printing: Western Commercial Printing

If you are receiving duplicate copies of the Gaynor Gazette or would like additional copies, please contact the Advancement Office at 212.787.7070, x1118

Stay Connected with Gaynor! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. © 2017 Stephen Gaynor School, All Rights Reserved


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About the Cover: Prior the start of the 2017-18 school year, art teachers Andrea Hochman and Ruth Rachlin asked faculty and staff to complete the prompt “If I Put My Mind To It, I Can...” The artwork that resulted was assembled into a welcoming collage for students, parents, and visitors alike.


At the start of every school year, the art

most impacted by the storm. I was proud

display in the North Lobby is updated with

of how quickly we came together to

different artwork that reflects a positive

show our support for another community

theme that can be shared by everyone

in need. I also know that our students

in the Gaynor community. During the

were thrilled to receive the pictures and

summer, faculty and staff were asked to

notes of gratitude from the students of

finish the sentence “If I Put My Mind To It, I Can…” Answers ranged from “Learn a new language” to “Have a growth mindset,” but at the heart of all the answers was the same important message of setting and achieving goals. Reflecting on just the first half of the school year, it is clear that as a community, we have embraced that message wholeheartedly.

Briarmeadow. (Read the full story on page 18). Before we sent out our first notices about the collection for Houston, several more places were hit with hurricanes, including Puerto Rico. We realized that we couldn’t stop at helping our new friends at Briarmeadow, but could once again rally our families to lend our support to another school

In the following pages, you will read many examples of

in need. Strength in numbers is essential to these efforts and

how our faculty, staff, Board of Trustees, and students have

we reached out to our new friends at Briarmeadow to share

been “putting their minds to it” in all areas from curriculum

a new initiative. Having recently benefited from our supply

development to community service to our physical campus.

drive, they were thrilled join us and are enthusiastic about

Our psychology department and education directors have been

being able to “pay it forward.” I look forward to helping

partnering to implement our new social-emotional program

another community in need and expanding our efforts.

called RULER (more on page 28). Our Board of Trustees has been collaborating with parents, teachers, and administrators to design and fund our new Performing Arts Center (check out the update on page 9). While positive changes are underway at Gaynor, we have also come together and put our minds to helping those outside of our walls.

By the time this Gazette reaches your mailbox, we will be well underway on our next relief project with our new partners. It’s amazing what our community can accomplish when they “put their minds to it” and we’re only halfway through the school year. Here’s to finishing the year as strongly as we started it, and working together to achieve our goals and

Prior to the start of the school year, we committed to help

make a difference—not only in our classrooms but also in

communities impacted by the recent string of hurricanes,

our greater community.

starting with Houston. We put together a call for support to help the families of one school in Houston that was affected by Hurricane Harvey. After only a few weeks, boxes filled with thousands of school supplies reached Briarmeadow Charter School. Backpacks with supplies and personalized notes of encouragement were then distributed to the families that were

DR. SCOTT GAYNOR Head of School

Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018




the Board

The Board of Trustees is essential to ensuring the continued and future success of the school. With gratitude, we thank Scott Mager who served the board and the school dutifully for the last several years. And with excitement, we welcome Andy J. Bast, Gordon Uehling, and Steven Kobre to the board. The addition of Bast, Uehling, and Kobre increases the total board members to 17, up from 15. Keep reading and get to know Gaynor’s newest trustees.


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Gordon Uehling Jr. Andy J. Bast Andy J. Bast is the senior principal at Zubatkin Owner Representation, a leader in project management that has worked with some of the most prestigious organizations in the United States. Bast has been a strategic advisor for the American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. In addition to his work in project management, Bast frequently speaks at the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums’ Building Museums Conference and is a member of the American Alliance of Museums. He has spoken as a guest lecturer at colleges and universities across the greater New York area. Bast has a wife, Andrea, and his son, Arman, is in the Yellow Cluster at Gaynor.

Steven Kobre Steven Kobre is a co-founder of the law firm Kobre & Kim, which focuses on international disputes and investigations. Prior to founding his firm, Kobre served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. While serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Kobre focused on white-collar criminal cases as a member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Kobre also served in the Asset Forfeiture Unit, where he litigated numerous civil and criminal asset forfeiture cases, and received the John Marshall Award for Outstanding Legal Achievement for Asset Forfeiture awarded by the Attorney General of the United States.

Gordon Uehling Jr. joins the board as part of a big Gaynor family. Uehling and his wife, Rehana, have two children, a daughter Zia, in the Blue Cluster, and a son, Zen, in the Silver Cluster at Gaynor. Three of their nephews also attend Gaynor. Uehling was a world-ranked tennis player in both singles and doubles with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which he would eventually come to use as the foundation for developing CourtSense. CourtSense is a comprehensive tennis program that integrates technology to help train players and has been profiled by publications including The New York Times, Tennis Magazine, and Men’s Journal. Uehling also owns Tenafly Racquet Club, which runs the CourtSense program. CourtSense is also offered at Bogota Racquet Club, Englewood Field Club, and Alpine Country Club. Uehling is a visionary tennis coach and trainer and has made great advancements for the game.

Before that, Kobre worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, with cases involving financial fraud. Kobre is married to Karyn Kornfeld, and has a son, Sam, in the Red Cluster at Gaynor.

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If I put my mind to it, I can




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n the fall of 1962, Dr. Miriam “Mimi” Michael and Yvette Siegel-Herzog, classmates at New York University turned friends, opened the doors to to a two-room apartment on the Upper East Side. It was in that small space where five students became Stephen Gaynor School’s first class, paving the way for the decades and thousands of students to follow. The impetus to found Gaynor came about when the friends noticed an unfulfilled niche in education, the need to serve bright children with language delays. But in founding a school, they also created something even greater, a positive environment where students could feel safe and thrive among compassionate peers. It was a revolutionary idea fifty-five years ago, when the field of special education was still in its infancy, and Gaynor’s individualized model is still novel today. The many alumni who return to Gaynor frequently talk about how Gaynor changed their lives in more than a purely academic way. Although Gaynor has grown tremendously in physical size and enrollment, what hasn’t is the mission set forth by Dr. Michael. In August 2017, Dr. Michael passed away just shy of what would have been her 101st birthday, leaving behind an incredible legacy in education. What followed was an outpouring of support and gratitude from teachers, faculty, parents and alumni for the space in education she helped create, bigger than any building that Gaynor has occupied over the years. In October, Gaynor hosted a Celebration of Life for Dr. Michael where hundreds of people came together in her honor. Dr. Scott Gaynor shared a story during his speech of a visit he made to Stephen Gaynor School as a child. “I was only eight years old and on vacation from school and my parents had dropped

me off at Gaynor at the West 74th Street brownstone to spend the day. My grandmother escorted me down to the basement where I took my seat on a stool around a large table with about ten other children who were already busy working on their art projects. One child was making a bowl out of clay, another painting scenery, while others were working with wood, charcoal and various recycled materials from the numerous bins around the room. I was a bit nervous and very confused as it was my first time visiting Gaynor. I sat there a bit longer as I observed the cacophony of activity while the art teacher, Ms. Abrams, buzzed around the room helping each child with their project. I finally got up the courage to ask what I should do. Ms. Abrams responded with a question, ‘What do you want to do?’ I was surprised by her question as I had been used to being told what to do in art. Later that morning as I proudly showed my grandmother my art creation, and

I asked her why the students were allowed to do what they want in art? She replied that each student is different and art should be an expression of what makes him or her unique. I said, isn’t that harder for the teacher? Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone to do the same project? My grandmother responded that of course it would be easier, but our goal at Gaynor is to help children find their individual strengths and build off of them. Teachers need to work hard to discover what is special about each child and to foster a love of learning.” It is that belief that allows Dr. Michael to live on through the work done every day in the classroom and the thousands of students who have attended Gaynor. Rest in peace, Dr. Michael. On behalf of the entire Gaynor community and the thousands of alumni who have found a home at Gaynor, thank you for your life’s work. Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018



“I owe the world to her. Her life’s work saved my son from years of discouragement and despair, and made sure the world could benefit from his bountiful talents. I am so sorry for her family’s loss, and the grief of her family and friends. I hope it comforts them to contemplate – how many people can leave behind such a tremendous legacy of hope and good for the world? Particularly during these tumultuous times, her legacy is one to honor and admire.”

Rebecca Simmons, alumni parent


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“We lived in the same building as Mimi for the first eight years of our son’s life. Whenever she saw him, she always took an interest in him, asking about his day and his hobbies. On Halloween, she left a note for us, asking what his favorite candy was so that she would have it for him when he came to her door. When the time came for our son to start school, we wanted him at Gaynor, but never mentioned it to Mimi, despite knowing her connection to the school. We wanted him to get in for who he was and what his needs and strengths were, not for whom his parents knew. But, we did tell him that it was “Mrs. Mimi’s” school. Shortly after he started there, he and his father were leaving the building and Mimi was sitting by the door with one of the doormen. The aide and the doorman started talking to Julian about school and every time he tried to answer in his soft, shy manner, they answered for him and talked over him. My husband noticed that he was trying to say something specific so he stopped and let the scene unfold. Mimi noticed it too and after a few minutes of listening to the doorman and the aide talk about how “cute” and “smart” my son was without really paying attention to him, she slammed her cane on the floor and said loudly, “LET THE CHILD SPEAK.” Julian looked at her and said, “Mrs. Mimi, I go to your school.” Every child who goes to her school is a child who gets to speak. We will miss her dearly for her Halloween candy and for the voice she gives each child.”

Nancy Needell, current parent

“When Mimi and I realized that legions of bright and creative students were misunderstood educationally, emotionally, and socially, Mimi and I literally exploded onto the educational enclave, clamoring and insisting that our boys and girls had been neglected for far too long. Together, we developed our mission and dedicated our life’s work towards the creation of a community where the needs of children and their families were recognized, dignified, and above all, acknowledged and remediated. Mimi’s shouting was louder than anyone’s. Of course, Mimi and I dedicated ourselves to this work, but we also shared a friendship for the ages. We had the ability to allow each other to shine in different ways. And we loved to travel! We traveled together for weeks at a time, and somehow we never tired of one another’s company. We worked well together and we played well together. We had a lot of fun. Now, though gone from this world, Mimi will forever be deep in my heart and nor will she be gone from the world of education. The legacy she left behind lives on daily in the dedicated work of her grandson, Dr. Scott Gaynor.”

Yvette Siegel-Herzog, co-founder Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018



If I put my mind to it, I can

Strategic Plan 2017 2021

In September 2017, Stephen Gaynor School launched a goal-oriented strategic plan for 2017-2021. The planning process spanned the previous academic year and called on nearly 40 members of the faculty, staff and parent community to serve on the planning committee.

The members of the planning committee agreed at the outset that Gaynor already does an excellent job of educating children with learning differences. To take the school to an even higher performance level, the strategic plan initiatives focused on four core areas where improvements could be made in support of the school’s mission. This set of ambitious but attainable initiatives fell into four broad categories: curriculum, faculty/ staff recruitment and retention, community values, and resources to support the plan. Beginning this fall, the entire Gaynor community began to work together toward achieving the goals set forth in the plan. Head of School Dr. Scott Gaynor said, “We are very proud of the work of the planning committee to create the plan, and now we begin the hard work of implementing the plan’s initiatives.” To clarify some of the terminology used below, we have created a glossary of terms on page 37. Please refer to the glossary if you need more information on any of the terms. Some of the initiatives already being implemented include:


FACULTY/STAFF RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION • S chool-Wide Recognition: The Alumni Relations office launched what will become an annual “years of service” event to honor faculty/staff and welcome alumni back to the school at the end of the 2017 academic year.

CURRICULUM • E xecutive Functions: Led by the school’s psychology department, Gaynor has chosen to implement the RULER Program for social-emotional learning. See page 28 for more details on this program. • Backward Design: As phase one of the implementation of a backward design approach, members of the social studies department completed a backward design online course, and applied the approach to thematic units across the social studies curriculum. Future phases will include the science and math curricula. • Universal Design for Learning: The technology department researched and identified technology tools to support students. Learning Ally (enhanced audio and visual books) and Whizzimo (multisensory reading and spelling instruction) are being used across clusters, and the 1-to-1 laptop program was expanded to the Yellow Cluster.




COMMUNITY VALUES • D iversity and Inclusion: The Parents’ Association Diversity Committee and the Faculty Community Values Committee agreed to consistent language across mission statements, and renamed each of the committees. They are now the Parents’ Association Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and the Faculty Diversity & Inclusion Committee. The Parents’ Association is sponsoring a yearlong series of speakers on the issue of diversity and inclusion. • Community Service: The school implemented a cross-divisional community service theme beginning with Hurricane Relief efforts in September 2017. The theme of hurricane relief will span the entire 2017-2018 academic year. See page 18 for more details.

RESOURCES TO SUPPORT THE PLAN • B uilding Management: A study to reduce maintenance costs and streamline building management by using more cost-efficient methods was completed in the summer of 2017. • State of the School: To improve the Gaynor community’s understanding of the school’s financial priorities and long-term financial goals, Dr. Gaynor and members of the Board of Trustees began holding regular State of the School events. To view more details about the Strategic Plan, please visit and click on About - Strategic Plan 2017-2021.


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If I put my mind to it, I can



SHINE Stephen Gaynor School strives to encourage students’ passions to help them realize success outside the classroom and to build selfconfidence, allowing them to become more confident learners while having respect for themselves and others. Having the physical space to follow those passions is essential. A highlight of the renovation of the South Building and Carriage House is a new, stateof-the-art Performing Arts Center (PAC) for performances, assemblies, movement breaks, and guest speakers. The space will allow students to contribute their diverse talents – from singing and dancing to set and lighting design. Music Teacher Abby Shuppy said, “Just like any space at the school – science teachers need a science lab for experiments, students need a cafeteria to eat in, a gymnasium is used for sports and running – drama and music need a dedicated space to do their work in as well.” Prior to starting construction and as part of the school’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, the Board of Trustees mandated that 50% of the estimated cost of the project be raised through financial support from the community. That benchmark was met, and construction began in the summer of 2017. Head of School Dr. Scott Gaynor praised the positive momentum, “Having met the Board requirement, we are moving forward with the

project. I am hopeful that with our community’s continued support, we will be able to complete the Performing Arts Center in the fall of 2018.” Once complete, the space located on the lower level of the South Building will feature: • a full-size stage with proscenium, accommodation for nearly 300 retractable seats (allowing for multi-function capability for athletics/movement uses and schoolwide events), • advanced lighting and audiovisual systems with a dedicated professional-quality control booth, • dedicated music and drama studios adjacent to the theater. The school’s architects have worked closely with professional theater designers to create the ideal design for Gaynor’s students, faculty, and families. “Research has shown that the arts are an essential part of a child’s education. Theater arts in particular have shown to improve expressive and receptive language skills, comprehension skills in reading as well as math skills,” said Dr. Gaynor. “The performing arts are integral to our school’s highly individualized approach that celebrates our students’ strengths. We look forward to providing our students this flexible, functional, inspirational space.”

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Dare to be

DIFFERENTiated One of Gaynor’s core tenets is an individualized curriculum for each student. But did you know this means material can be differentiated down to a single question? Read on to find out how different teachers approach this process and why it pays off when it comes to unlocking each child’s potential.


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Jane Moskowitz, Head Teacher, Silver Cluster “I teach students in every medium possible so every learning style has a place in the curriculum,” said Jane Moskowitz. When teaching, Moskowitz incorporates videos, reading, and even acting performances into her lessons. “We always say we live and breathe content in our class.” But when it comes to differentiation in her class, it goes beyond the desks. Over the past summer, Ms. Moskowitz redid her library in order to create a more personalized experience for her students. By purchasing new books, she ensured her students could confidently choose any book and be able to read it, rather than trying to find a book suited to their skill set. Next, she laid all the books flat rather than putting them in bins so they looked more inviting and less intimidating. During independent reading times, Moskowitz and assistant teacher Sara Curwin spend a few minutes with each student to help them find a book that is a good fit. Once a student has chosen a book, the student can grab a reading tracker (if it helps them) and sit in a spot that works best for them. Alternatively, the teachers offer to read to students for whom decoding is still burdensome, or suggest they use Learning Ally, which allows them to listen to a book and follow along with the printed words instead.


Rochelle Hoffman, Head Teacher, Gold Cluster Rochelle Hoffman, a Head Teacher in the Middle School, typically prefers to differentiate in the moment, rather than in advance. Depending on the student, she will change up questions from open-ended to matching to multiple choice or even fill-in-the-blank depending on the student’s skill level. “Every kid learns differently and every kid shows their knowledge differently.” Hoffman prefers to use differentiation as a diagnostic tool. For example, in literature she can group in more items, scaffold items, or take problems away. (See scaffolding on page 37 in the Gaynor Glossary.) In the example below, Hoffman differentiated in advance for a lesson on the different types of intelligences. One student is given a pre-filled in pie chart and is expected to answer open-ended questions, while another is asked to draw pictures to represent the various types of intelligences.

Kristen Kurre, Head Teacher, Silver Cluster Kristen Kurre differentiates in the moment, all day every day. Depending on how well students are grasping the material, she will give different questions to different students. In math class, at the end of learning a new concept, students play a game of Jeopardy. During the game, Ms. Kurre will alter questions to fit the student. In social studies, students are given enter and exit cards which have “warm up” questions.* By using her knowledge of the student’s learning style, Ms. Kurre will choose which format is most appropriate. For example, a visual learner might be asked to conceptualize their answer with a drawing. For others, multiple choice works better. “The biggest benefit to students is that they all feel successful and more confident about learning at the end of the day,” said Ms. Kurre. “My main goal is to help increase their confidence and to make them feel success without feeling stressed or embarrassed in front of their peers. [Differentiation] means that their needs are being met and they are being reached at their academic potential.”

* This warm-up activity is referring to the historic migration of humans and specifically, the flooding of the land bridge, Beringia. Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018



If I put my mind to it, I can


STAIRWAY TO SUCCESS Revealing the deeper meaning behind the staircase to the Early Childhood program

Imagine you are four years old, arriving at your new school – maybe your first school. Your mom or dad walks you down the tree-lined street to the front gate, where smiling adults you don’t yet know invite you in. You aren’t sure this is a good idea. You’d rather stay with your mom or dad. Your lip begins to tremble… It is at this moment that the intentional design of the Early Childhood (EC) facility fulfills its true purpose: to teach the youngest Gaynor students how to calmly, safely, and thoughtfully make the transition from home to school. According to Director of Early Childhood Rebecca Jurow, “When we designed the Early Childhood space, we paid particular attention to the emotional and organizational issues that all children, but especially children with learning differences, face. The staircase leading up to the second floor of the South Building embodies a particular philosophy.” The rise on the stairs is shorter than a standard staircase, allowing for easy climbing. “All of the separation issues during morning drop-off are a challenge to begin with, so we made the stairs easier for little legs,” said Jurow. Students arriving in the EC literally move to an entirely different level when they arrive in the


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morning. This supports the separation from parent and child to child and teacher. Of course, the stairs themselves are merely a tool. The philosophy of the Early Childhood program requires careful implementation by Gaynor faculty and specialists. Each morning, the students are greeted at the bottom of the staircase by at least two specialists – usually an occupational therapist and a speech-language pathologist. Those specialists assist the student in the transition process, by helping them regulate their emotions as they leave their loved one for the day, or by making sure they have organized their belongings so that they can climb the stairs safely. According to Jurow, “The spaces are vastly different, and students have to climb what seems like a mountain of stairs. We know that when kids move their bodies and exert that energy, they bring a different energy to what comes after it.” She continued, “We envision them entering as their parent’s child, and as they climb the stairs independently, they know they are now a Gaynor student. They experience a new level of independence that is different from what they may have experienced before and different from their experience with their caregivers.”



Abstract Art In Art History class, the students studied the work of artists who separated color and subject including Vincent Van Gogh, Georges Seurat, David Hockney, and Chuck Close. The class then tried to create an artwork in this manner themselves.

Polaroid Projects A Gaynor parent generously donated a case of Polaroid film, which gave me an idea for a photography project. Each child took a Polaroid portrait of a classmate and then photographed them holding that photograph. Students learned about the chemical nature of film and mirroring themselves through photographs.








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If I put my mind to it, I can


Magic Kindness is

A little kindness goes a long way – just take a look at Andrea Hochman’s art classes.

In November of 1997, The World Kindness Movement held their first conference in Tokyo, Japan. It was there that they agreed to create World Kindness Day, to be celebrated on November 13. Although the organization wasn’t officially launched until 2000, it has been helping inspire kind acts worldwide for nearly 20 years. In honor of the day, Ms. Hochman created a special project for her classes. Yellow and Silver Cluster students anonymously filled out brief surveys.

My favorite color is ____ For fun, I love to _____ What makes me feel happy is ____ I wish I could ______ The surveys were redistributed to other students, who were asked to create a card or piece of artwork for their mystery person. Students in the Red, Pink, and Orange Clusters drew names out of a hat in order to be assigned one of their classmates. When all the artwork was created, students exchanged their handmade gifts.


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“The students experienced first hand that giving a gift to a friend can feel just as good or even better than receiving a gift,” said Ms. Hochman. “In the art room, the students are always encouraged to think about themselves and discover their own inner artist. This activity challenged the students to think about the likes, hobbies, interests etc. of their ‘mystery person’ rather than themselves. It really takes a lot of our students outside their comfort zone but in a gentle manner. This is especially true when it all comes full circle and students get to both give and receive gifts. My heart was so full when both teachers and students shared with me that this activity helped to strengthen their classroom communities.” How did students feel about the project? Well, judging by the pictures – whether you call kindness contagious or magic, it is clear that it is a little bit of both.


If I put my mind to it, I can


What started as a routine read-aloud in the Lower School turned into a positive, payit-forward project that reached all the way to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The book Wonder by R.J. Palacio, tells the story of a boy named Auggie Pullman who has severe facial deformities. The main character is bullied by classmates in his school and made to feel like an outcast due to his differences. The book has become a worldwide sensation due to its accessibility for readers, particularly children, as it discusses the themes of tolerance, compassion, and isolation. Kristen Kurre’s Silver Cluster classes did a read-aloud of Wonder and according to Ms. Kurre, “They listened to his narrative unfold with unprecedented focus and devotion.” Students were profoundly moved by the story and wrote down their connections to the story in a project called, “I Am Auggie Pullman.” Through the project, they explained how they have had experiences similar to Auggie’s.

“I was so touched by my students’ honesty and willingness to be vulnerable,” said Ms. Kurre. “We have had wonderful discussions around the ideas of tolerance, acceptance, and perspective taking. By reading Wonder, Room 606 opened their hearts to new understandings.”

The wonder that students felt wasn’t only contained to Gaynor, however. Thanks to the generosity of a parent, it spread all the way to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. On, a teacher at University Place Elementary School, Stephanie Bristow, requested copies of Wonder so that she could help shift her students’ perspectives. In her original post on, Ms. Bristow said, “Courage, kindness, friendship, and character are the qualities that define us all, and I hope through this project I can bring that understanding to my students.” To pay it forward, Ms. Kurre’s class wrote letters to Ms. Bristow’s class expressing their love for the book, how it has impacted them, and the hopes and wishes that they have for Ms. Bristow’s class. As Ms. Bristow said, “In our ever-changing world today, it is important as a teacher to help students understand tolerance on a level of love and respect.” A wonder, indeed.

Dear Ms. Bristow, and your school. It is an honor to help your class mind and try my open to me ed Wonder has help nder as much new things. I hope you enjoy Wo as we do. Sincerely, Chandra

Dear Mrs. Bristow, We understand that you want this book Wonder, so we are going to donate some money to buy the book Wonder or for other things. And I wish you love this book because I loved Wonder too. It is an honor to donate money to your school. I can’t wait to hear about the book. Wonder helps me stand up for myself and I hope it will do the same thing for your students because it is an amazing book. Sincerely, Taro

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GATORS FALL ATHLETICS By James Melillo, Director of Athletics

Cross Country In the fall, history was made as Gaynor fielded its first cross-country team. Throughout the season, students competed in various events held at Van Cortlandt Park.


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Green Squad Soccer

White Squad Soccer


With a team full of veterans and returning players, the Gators worked hard during practices hoping to earn a spot in the league playoffs for the 4th consecutive year. After winning the first two league games, the team hit a tough part of the schedule and dropped two games in a row to Rodeph Shalom and UNIS. The difficult games seemed to motivate the players and help develop improved team chemistry as the team fought back to earn a tie against British International in the final minutes. The fact that the team did not quit when they were down and kept fighting was easily the highlight of the season.

The White Squad soccer team worked most cohesively as a team when the pressure was on. The soccer team came back from a 4-0 deficit to tie a game against Cathedral Prep. The game against Cathedral Prep was one of few games held outdoors and not in the condensed space and rapid-pace Gaynor Field House. The Gators gave their best effort and pushed back for a 5-5 tie. Throughout the season, players improved their positional soccer awareness, learning the roles and responsibilities of different positions and trusting teammates to each play their part in team strategies.

The volleyball team was able to improve their playing skills dramatically with lots of hard work and determination. Even in games where they didn’t come away with a win, they never let another team get them down. And they did the same for others. When another team was losing, they contained their enthusiasm to keep their winning positive and respectful. They finished the season in 4th place in the AIPSL, earning the school’s first trip to volleyball playoffs.


If I put my mind to it, I can

THRIVE TIPS FOR GRADUATES POST-GAYNOR By Elizabeth Python and Emily Heider, Placement Office


1. Get involved in activities Of course the academics at your new school are important, but don’t forget to have some fun, too. During and after school, it’s important to find activities to get involved with in order to meet new friends and familiarize yourself with your new school. Find out what clubs and athletics are offered and find the right fit for you, whether it’s soccer or chess.

2. Use your Gaynor academic toolbox • Use a planner to stay organized. Color-code your notes and materials to help keep you on track. • Continue to use the note-taking formats that work best for you, such as two column notes or multiple source notes. • Remember COPS when writing and editing your work: C - Capitalization O - Overall Appearance P - Punctuation S - Spelling • Utilize strategies to break down and code words.

3. Challenge but don’t overwhelm yourself When it comes to school, it’s important to have a balance between pushing yourself to do and be your best and knowing what is realistic for you. Try breaking down big assignments into smaller tasks so that they are more manageable. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a short break (especially during longer classes) to stay focused and energized. During breaks, try walking up and down stairs, getting a drink of water, or stretching your body. To help “reset” your system, it can be helpful to take a few deep breaths.

4. Remember to Self-Advocate Familiarize yourself with the support offered at your school. Don’t be afraid to self-advocate for the accommodations you need so you can continue to learn the way that works best for you.

5. Keep in touch! Remember to stay connected with your fellow Gaynor friends, but don’t forget about our Alumni Office! The Alumni Office loves to hear about your latest achievements. Be sure to keep your contact information updated and when you want to come back to visit Gaynor, they’ll help you schedule a tour as well. Contact Stephanie Shah, Director of Alumni Relations, at 212.787.7070 ext. 1115 or at Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018



If I put my mind to it, I can



Hurricane Relief

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Fred Rogers

Prior to the start of the school year in September, Gaynor was abuzz with activity. But in addition to the usual preparation, faculty and staff were busy organizing efforts for hurricane relief. As summer came to an end, it was impossible not to think of the students in Texas who would be unable to go back-to-school shopping or even attend school due to the destruction Hurricane Harvey left in its wake. This prompted a conversation at Gaynor. How could we help? How quickly? And who? In just a few days, a plan of action came together. Gaynor would partner with Briarmeadow Charter School in the Houston Independent School District and complete a two-pronged effort. First, a school supply drive would collect needed items, and a bake sale hosted by the Parents’ Association would raise additional funds of support. On Friday, the final day of the drive, every classroom sorted, counted, and graphed supplies and placed them in the correct boxes. It didn’t take long for the boxes to be filled with an astounding 1,900 different school supplies. Thanks to parent volunteers who organized and staffed the bake sale, as well as the Gaynor customers who supported it, nearly $1,500 was raised. Students also made notes of encouragement for their fellow students in Texas. One Orange Cluster student shared, “I am sorry that you had to go through all this. I know that it will be hard for you, but I know you can do it! I am thinking of you.” “It was truly remarkable to watch our Gaynor community participate in the Hurricane Relief school supplies drive and bake sale,” 18

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TA L LY S N O I D O NAT cks pa 124 back xes said Michelle Fox, Co-Director of the bo 50 l un ch icks Lower School. “I am proud of how we all st came together, as one Gaynor community 385 gl ue from the EC to the Blue Cluster, to lend a ors 144 sciss of crayons helping hand. Coming together to help others ks in need is exactly what makes Gaynor the 245 pac of markers s s magical place that it is.” 200 pack of col ored pen cil s “The generosity and compassion of the 178 pack Stephen Gaynor School community has been rs truly appreciated,” said Kathryn Santanello, a 170 erase of pen cils s second grade teacher at Briarmeadow Charter 217 pack f pens School. “Although the negative effect that o Hurricane Harvey has had on Houston schools 62 packs f tissues er and communities has been tremendous, we ction pap packs o u r 8 t 6 s n o c have seen a remarkable display of kindness and ipes, ets of 57 pack aneous (Cl orox w support from our friends in New York. It has been ll amazing for my students to see others from across 105 misce bottles, etc.) the country reach out to offer encouragement water through letters and cards, as well as donations of school supplies. Through these efforts, countless families and teachers have been able to provide our Houston children with the supplies they need to succeed in school. It has been a beautiful learning experience for my students to see that through hard times we can find reasons to be grateful. Briarmeadow Charter looks forward to teaming up with Gaynor to pay it forward and help others in need.” The Gaynor community will continue hurricane relief efforts for the remainder of the academic year. Up next is an organized effort for the people of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma.


Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018




A hallmark of Gaynor’s educational philosophy is creating opportunities for students to follow their passions. The school’s Science Department is dedicated to fostering students’ interests in the sciences from an early age, and to preparing students for future academic work in science. Students at Gaynor begin dedicated science classes in the Pink Cluster, the first cluster in the Lower School, and by the time they reach the Blue Cluster, they are taking science classes four times per week. Students will gain experience in earth science, chemistry, biology, and physics by the time they graduate from the Blue Cluster. While each of those subject areas is important, the faculty in the Science Department are focused primarily on providing students with the skills and abilities they will need to continue through high school and beyond.

In Teaching Secondary School Science: Strategies for Developing Scientific Literacy (R.W. Bybee, J.C. Powell, L.W. Trowbridge, 2008 edition, p. 230-231), the authors detail the categories of skills that students should acquire through the study of science in middle and high school: acquisitive, organizational, creative, manipulative, and communicative. We sat down with Science Department Chair Christina Fabricant to understand how Gaynor is preparing students in these five areas. Acquisitive Observing, researching, investigating, and gathering information Ms. Fabricant described a recent long-term project undertaken by her students in the Blue Cluster. “We had each student research a specific element on the periodic table. The students needed to find valid resources that provided sufficient information on the element they chose. During the project, I reinforced the idea that some sources are more valid than others, and that Wikipedia should be used with caution,” explained Fabricant. Once the students had gathered and synthesized their research, they created three-dimensional models of their chosen element. In addition to being a multisensory way to learn about their element, “it was a way for me to assess their understanding of atomic structure by using the information that they researched on their element and applying it to their understanding of what an atom looks like.”

Organizational Putting information in a systematic order Many students with learning differences find this set of skills to be a particular challenge. Students at Gaynor are taught organizational skills in a highly scaffolded (see Gaynor Glossary on page 37) way. According to Ms. Fabricant, “Some students may be beginning to learn how to make tables and charts, using applications in the Google Suite to help organize data in 20

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a meaningful way.” She continued, “Some students who have already acquired those skills are progressing further, learning how to take the data they have collected and represent it in multiple ways using graphs of many types.” This fall, in Jacqueline Smith’s Yellow Cluster classes, students gathered data on different aspects of parachutes. The students used the steps associated with the design cycle (investigate, design, create, evaluate) in order to build a perfect parachute. They conducted a large-scale investigation in which they changed different parts of a parachute to see which parameters worked best for a slow and safe landing. They explored variables such as canopy shape and size, as well as load composition. All of this investigating led to their ultimate “Egg Drop Challenge.” They built their version of a perfect parachute based on the data they collected and analyzed throughout the investigatory labs. According to Ms. Smith, “By the time they were ready to build, they had engaged with the design cycle multiple times. Systematically organizing information is built into the unit.”

Creative How to develop new approaches and new ways of thinking In Lindsey Marx’s Red Cluster classes, students were inspired toward scientific creativity after seeing the massive pumpkin brought back from the Apple Picking trip in September. They saw how it took several of the school’s maintenance staff members to lift what turned out to be a 130-pound pumpkin. Ms. Marx challenged the students to find a scientific solution to moving the pumpkin safely and easily. The students worked to create designs for inclined planes, exploring different types of surfaces and steepness levels, and then used the information they gathered to design the perfect tool. They created small-scale models, and presented their proposed designs to Dr. Gaynor. Perhaps next year’s pumpkin moving will be a bit easier thanks to these creative Red Cluster students.


Manipulative Handling materials and scientific instruments In Middle School, students are introduced to a variety of scientific tools, and learn about lab safety. One of the most advanced instruments Gaynor students learn to use is a compound microscope. This spring, students in Andrew Presarn’s Green Cluster classes will be introduced to microscopes and learn how to safely use and care for them. Once they have experience with manipulating the microscope, they will use it to look at samples of human organs to better understand cellular structure in the human body. Experience and fluency with using different types of scientific tools is important preparation for future scientific study.

Communicative Transferring and explaining information correctly from one experimenter to another As they move through the science curriculum, Gaynor students gain experience with the format and practice of writing lab reports. However, written lab reports are not the only way in which young scientists can present their findings. Students in Mollianne Grady’s Gold Cluster classes used the green screen in the SMART Lab to produce videos in which the students described newly-invented animals and explained how those animals were well adapted to their environments. The students really enjoyed this hands-on, high-tech way to demonstrate their understanding about how animals survive in differing habitats. In addition to teaching all of the traditional scientific skills students are expected to learn, Gaynor faculty also focus specifically on the morphology (see Gaynor Glossary on page 37) of scientific words, a decoding strategy that students use in all of their academic classes. “By studying the structure of words and the way in which they are segmented, students learn to better understand the scientific terms they have already learned and are better equipped to decipher words they may not have encountered before,” said Ms. Fabricant. Ms. Fabricant is proud of the efforts of the science department to create a robust science curriculum. She said, “Our science curriculum has developed into a rich, hands-on and creative means to practice the skills needed for both science and all academic subjects. We have created deep connections to subjects beyond science by working with other departments to show Gaynor students that science is a part of everything that they are learning.” She continued, “No academic subject stands on its own, and students learn how science permeates not only what they learn in school but also in the world around them.” Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018



STEAM is an acronym referring to the educational discipline of combining science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics which, when combined, translate into hands-on projects that empower students of all age levels to solve their own problems, discover or create their own innovations, and approach school from a uniquely “real-world” angle. In the past decade, STEAM has become a bit of a movement in the education world, leading schools to create Makerspaces, Innovation Labs, Coding and Robotics programs, and beyond. At Stephen Gaynor School, STEAM-type projects happen every day across the clusters, from our youngest students who build models using cardboard and glue to our oldest students who use 3D CAD design software in conjunction with 3D printers to prototype their ideas. While projects involving STEAM can often take place in the classroom, Gaynor has a common hub that is a collaborative space for teachers and students to explore and problem solve – the SMART Lab. SMART is an acronym similar to STEAM, but also includes “Research” as a subject. Teaching students how to research appropriately and sift through the ever-expanding base of information available on the web is also a necessary 21st-century skill.

The SMART Lab on the fifth floor of the South Building, boasts a plethora of low-tech and high-tech tools. The faculty make them as visible as possible to students and encourage creativity along the path of design. Often a student may be working on a project with their laptop right next to them, ready to go if needed to quickly look up a fact or figure. They may grab wood, plastic, cardboard, metal, or other materials to start constructing. They may do a pencil sketch of their idea or choose to create a digital model. Throughout the process, students will often go back to their laptop as discoveries along the way lead them in new directions and their project’s scope widens. They may need a large space to build or construct, and choose to work outside the confines of a table or desk. Anything is possible in the SMART Lab. To complement the SMART Lab, the school has implemented a design-based curriculum that emphasizes reflection and evaluation through writing, with the goal of continually improving upon one’s physical project, rather than coming to hasty conclusions. Students are introduced to the “design cycle,” a process used by engineering, architectural, and design firms around the world. Faculty members have framed the design cycle in different ways to meet the needs and language capabilities of all cluster levels. When using the design cycle, students of any age recognize that do-ityourself, open-ended maker-type projects involve investigation, brainstorming, creating/building, and of course, evaluating. The more trips a student takes around this cycle, the more sound, detailed, and professional-quality product they end up with. As Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” The faculty’s collaborative efforts in the SMART Lab teach children that many of their subjects work hand-in-hand with each other, especially in our greater world. True discovery goes beyond the confines of textbook material and sometimes requires using your hands, getting dirty, experimenting, building or creating but above all, not being afraid to fail. In the SMART Lab, failure is a good thing. It’s a learning experience that can make a project “smarter.”

By Brian Russ, Middle School Technology Specialist


2.0 By Jill Thompson, Assistant Head of School

Last year, Stephen Gaynor School stakeholders participated in a strategic planning process that resulted in a curriculum initiative to evolve our curriculum while staying true to our mission to unlock each student’s potential. Over the next five years, our faculty will participate in small-group learning communities, online courses, and individualized mentoring to gradually implement a backward design, aka Understanding by Design, approach to the planning of our social studies, science, and literature curriculum. What is Backward Design? Understanding by Design is defined as “a planning process and structure to guide curriculum, assessment, and instruction by focusing on understanding and learning transfer.” A backward design framework was chosen because it develops master teaching skills and interlaces the Stephen Gaynor School mission with our learning goals. By working backwards to develop curriculum, we first prioritize content and establish what it is we want students to be able to do with what they have learned (learning goals). The second stage of backward design focuses on assessment and providing opportunities for students to explain, interpret, and apply their learning, as well as demonstrate perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge. The third stage is to plan the learning activities, or lessons, based on the goals and assessment established in the first and second stages. This type of planning process ensures we plan with the end in mind by first clarifying the learning results we want our students to have. How is Stephen Gaynor School rolling out this initiative? The first phase of rolling out this curriculum development initiative included altering a backward design unit plan template to ensure we stay true to our mission. The alterations

to the unit plan template include Gaynor’s core academic understandings integrated with executive function skills, the design cycle approach, and cross-curricular connections. Inclusion of executive functions skills into curriculum planning ensures students will have intentional practice with planning, initiating, sequencing, pacing, organizing, shifting, inhibiting, and self-monitoring. Inclusion of the design cycle ensures a project-based approach to authentic problem solving. And, intentionally planned cross-curricular connections ensure deeper understandings through increased opportunities to use what students learned in another setting (learning transfer) and for multi-sensory learning. This past summer, the Education Directors and a small group of social studies teachers participated in an online Understanding by Design course and collaborative planning

workshops. The purpose was to develop a professional learning community of Stephen Gaynor School faculty members to implement the backward design approach to our social studies curriculum planning. During our Summer Institute, all social studies and history teachers were introduced to the backward design planning process to collaboratively work on a yearlong endeavor to evolve our rich social studies content. What’s phase 2 for the backward design approach at Stephen Gaynor School? Next year, we will implement our evolved social studies curriculum units in the classroom and reflect on the impacts on teacher planning and student understanding. Additionally, the Stephen Gaynor School science faculty will begin the planning process to evolve our science curriculum.

Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018


Parents’ Association L E T T E R F R O M T H E PA R E N T S ’ A S S O C I AT I O N P R E S I D E N T

“In 2018, there is a great lineup of events at Gaynor, including Skate Night, Sports Nights, Movie Night, Middle School parties, and much more.” Adina Haller

Can you believe we have reached the halfway mark of the school year? Wow! Our school year has been off to a great start, and the Gaynor Parents’ Association was thrilled to be a part of it. We kicked off with a successful Bake Sale, which raised funds to support Briarmeadow Charter School, a school in Houston that was affected by Hurricane Harvey. With all of your support and donations, our school was able to send more than 11 cartons of desperately needed school supplies! During the second week of school, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee brought guest speaker, Glenn Singleton, to Gaynor to lecture on his book, Courageous Conversations about Race. Thanks to everyone who attended, participated, and helped orchestrate the event. Fall Fest, for the EC and Lower School, was also a huge success. The children enjoyed a dance party, followed by a wonderful hands-on science show. Fall Fest culminated in the annual EC costume parade in front of parents and the Middle School students. In 2018, there is a great lineup of events at Gaynor, including Skate Night, Sports Nights, Movie Night, Middle School parties, and much more. We also continue our informative, monthly PA meetings, which we encourage all of you to attend. These meetings sometimes include lectures on current special education topics given by outside professionals, as well as our administrators. We especially look forward to learning more about the school’s social and emotional learning approach, RULER (see page 28) which is a key area of focus for our school. All of these get-togethers and activities bring opportunities for you to connect with, and become involved with, our wonderful school. We hope you can join us for a lecture, volunteer to help with events, and enjoy quality time with your children and fellow parents. Please feel free to reach out to me personally to find out how you can become more involved, or if you have any questions. This year is going to be a great one and we are glad to have you as part of this wonderful Parents’ Association. All the best,

Fall Fest

Adina Haller Adina Haller Parents’ Association President

Alumni Panel 24

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Throughout the year, The Parents’ Association Diversity & Inclusion Committee has continued its work promoting and advocating for increased diversity and sensitivity to differences within the Gaynor school community. Glenn Singleton Event On September 14, Glenn Singleton, the founder and president of Pacific Educational Group visited Gaynor. Singleton is the author of Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools and has traveled worldwide to teach Beyond Diversity™, a curriculum he developed to go hand-in-hand with his teachings. Dr. Gaynor welcomed attendees to the presentation. “We just released Gaynor’s five-year strategic plan and one of the major pillars of the plan is about diversity and inclusion; how we communicate with our community and how we communicate with ourselves. Glenn is the perfect person to launch our speaker series for the year.” Every audience member was provided with a copy of Singleton’s proprietary curriculum to work through and follow along with throughout the presentation. Those in attendance were able to answer the questions Singleton posed during his talk, as well as ask their own at the end. “My big message to you tonight is to lean in with the school and be supportive of the school’s work to be culturally proficient,” said Singleton. “What happens at home and on the weekends is just as critical as what happens during the week. We want the next generation to have a different relationship with race so they can have an opportunity to eradicate racism. And it can’t be eradicated if you pretend it doesn’t exist.” The school is grateful to the Parents’ Association Diversity & Inclusion Committee for sponsoring this event.

Party in the Park Good food, friends, and conversation at this year’s annual Party in the Park hosted by the PA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018








William May ’91 After attending Gaynor, William attended Collegiate School and Sarah Lawrence College. William went on to receive his MFA in Poetry and Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has just finished his first novel. In October, William visited Gaynor from Florida, with his mother, Robin and fiancée, Melissa, where they all reside. Charles Kalter ’95 Charles has great memories of his time at Gaynor. After graduating, he went on to Dwight and then to Cornell where he obtained a BS in Mechanical Engineering. He now works as an HVAC design engineer. His favorite memory at Gaynor was participating in a roller skating class — he fell down a hill on his first try, but to this day still plays on a roller hockey team! Eve Ravinett ’00 Eve is a clinical social worker in New York City. She attended Churchill and then Curry College for her BA. She then went on to receive her Masters in Communication at Hofstra and a Masters in Social Work from NYU Silver School of Social Work.


Alex Pollack ’01 Alex attended Churchill for high school and then Curry College. She is now a teacher in New York City.



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Jimmy Schatz ’01 Jimmy is a stand up comedian and actor. After Gaynor he attended Winston Prep and then Dean College. He is currently acting in a performance piece called Café Play, which was selected to perform at an international festival in India in January. A review of the performance effused, “Jimmy Schatz in particular brings a vulnerable, funny performance that grounds the evening in the dignity of surviving the sometimes humiliating world of waiting tables.” He also got a guest starring role in the upcoming season of Orange is the New Black — look for him when it comes out in June 2018!

Josh Kusinitz ’02 Josh majored in Law and Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence and then went on to receive an MFA at Tisch’s Dramatic Writing Program. He currently lives in LA and is pursuing his dream of being a screenwriter. Samantha Kafka ’08 Samantha just moved from Florida back to NYC to continue her career in advertising. She is excited to be working as a Senior Associate Portfolio Manager at the agency UM Worldwide. Samantha has her BS in Advertising from the University of Florida where she was part of the Ad Society and interned in NYC. Her advice to Gaynor students is to, “know what you are capable of and exceed those expectations.” When she’s not busy in the ad world, Samantha enjoys car racing whenever she gets the opportunity.


Andrew Jennings ’10 After Gaynor, Andrew attended Fordham Prep high school and went on to study communications at Fordham University, where he is currently a senior. Over the summer, Andrew interned as the Manager of Social Media for the Hydrocephalus Association. Jackie Chu ’11 Jackie attended Dwight for high school and is a junior at Connecticut College. She is majoring in English.



Matt Chatzinoff & Max Nusbaum ’12 Matt and Max graduated from York Prep this spring. At York Prep, Matt was a star on the basketball team and Max was a star on stage with their theater program. Matt is starting his freshman year at Duke where he is interested in studying Sports Business. Max is a freshman at UCLA where he is pre-med and hopes to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. JACKIE CHU





Nick Otto-Bernstein ’12 Nick attended Eagle Hill in MA for high school and is currently a freshman at Richmond, The American University in London. Nick hopes to focus his studies on film there. He is also fluent in German.

Ben Lipman ’12 & Aden Wiener ’13 Ben graduated from Columbia Prep this spring. This summer he interned at a record label before he began his freshman year at Tulane, where he plans to study music and business. Aden graduated from Columbia Prep this spring as well. He took night classes at Fordham this summer to prepare for his freshman year at University of Indiana’s Kelley School of Business.

Sirena Beard-Galati ’15 In the fall, Sirena returned to Gaynor to speak to some Blue Cluster classes about how she chose the right school to continue pursuing her passion of singing and songwriting. Sirena is a freshman at Special Music School – Kaufman Music Center and loves her program.

Michael Delf & Olivia Phillips-Falk ’14 Michael is a senior at Churchill where he is the captain of the varsity soccer team. He is applying for colleges and is interested in studying business. Olivia is a senior at Churchill. She is applying for colleges and is interested in studying art. Kenny Goldberg, Zac Hirsch & Luke Velez ’14 All three alumni are at York and stopped by to update us on life since Gaynor! Kenny is a junior and is gearing up for the basketball season. Zac and Luke are are both seniors and busy with college applications. Zac wants to study film and Luke is interested in becoming an engineer.


Rina Goldberg & Haley Smilow ’15 Rina & Haley are both at York Prep. Over the summer, Rina went to Costa Rica to volunteer teaching English and Haley attended Arizona State University’s journalism program.




If I put my mind to it, I can

Social-Emotional Training

During the 2016-2017 academic year, approximately 40 members of Gaynor’s community worked together to develop the school’s next five-year strategic plan (see page 8). Among several focus areas identified, one included Gaynor’s social and emotional learning approach. In order to choose which approach would be most beneficial to the community, Gaynor’s psychology department canvassed other schools in Manhattan and conducted extensive research. Ultimately, the department chose the RULER approach to Social and Emotional Learning, developed by Marc Brackett, David Caruso, and Robin Stern at Yale University. RULER stands for: ecognizing emotions to obtain R valuable information about oneself and one’s environment nderstanding the causes and U consequences of emotions to predict behavior abeling emotions to describe L feelings precisely xpressing emotions to communicate E effectively and in socially appropriate ways egulating emotions to promote R learning and personal growth, including healthy relationships Research has shown that as the classroom climate becomes more supportive, students’ academic performance can improve and they can show greater interest, enjoyment, and engagement overall. The program integrates into all content areas including language arts, social studies, math, and physical education and involves a three-year sequence. During the


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first year, students will develop key RULER skills, and learn about The Anchors of Emotional Intelligence. The Mood Meter (right), is just one tool students will use as the program rolls out. According to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, the Mood Meter helps both students and educators become more mindful of how their emotions change throughout the day and how their emotions in turn affect their actions. Students will learn that it is acceptable to be anywhere within the quadrants, but will also learn how to regulate these different emotions.


We sat down with Director of Psychology Dr. Clare Cosentino and Assistant Head of School Jill Thompson to learn more about RULER, and what it means for Gaynor – now and in the future. Out of all the various programs researched, why did you choose RULER? The psychology team researched the socialemotional learning programs and selected RULER because it’s a whole school approach that focuses on positive social, emotional, and cognitive development. The program is rooted in social intelligence theory and research on both child and adult development. It is recognized by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as a SELect program because of its strong evidence base. It has been shown to reduce problem behavior and enhance emotional intelligence and academic achievement. Tell us about the specific work you’ve been doing recently to implement RULER at Gaynor? We have introduced all faculty and staff to RULER and emotional intelligence. Faculty and staff worked together to create a charter about how they want to feel at work and which action steps will help to create those feelings. Teachers are now creating charters with students, which will help guide them in their classrooms. At the Parents’ Association meeting in November, RULER and the Gaynor charter were presented to parents. Why is RULER being rolled out in phases at Gaynor? RULER is meant to be introduced in three phases in order to provide time for all stakeholders (faculty, staff, and students) to understand the different anchors of emotional intelligence. How is the program being differentiated for students of every age? Pacing, language, and learning activities are differentiated based on developmental needs. An example of this is that some classes need more explanation and time to explore their feelings. How can parents support Gaynor’s work with emotional regulation at home and on the weekends? Parents can help their child by modeling and prompting mindfulness to accurately describe feelings and connect strategies that help manage and support those feelings.

Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018



Psychologists’ Corner

By Gaynor’s Psychology Department: Dr. Clare Cosentino, Dr. Shayna Nash, Dr. Leore Faber, Dr. Lauren Levenson

Emotions Matter: An Overview for Families Aristotle wrote, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

What are emotions and why are they important? An emotion is an immediate response to something that happens in the environment or is evoked in the mind that causes shifts in thinking (like, dislike), physiology (breathing, heart rate, hormones), expression (face, body, vocal tones), and behavior (fight/flight, approach/ avoid). Emotions and what we do with our emotions influence attention, memory and learning, decision-making and judgment, relationship quality, physical and mental health, and everyday effectiveness. How emotions influence child development Current research supports Aristotle’s philosophy and shows that one’s environment and nurturing relationships are essential to child development. Moreover, children’s early development is impacted by the emotional health and wellbeing of their parents: parents affect children, and children affect their parents. In other words, relationships are the “soil” in which children’s social-emotional learning skills grow.


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Implementing RULER at Home (see page 28) Emotional Skill

Defining Characteristics

Parenting Skills

Recognizing Emotions

Identifying emotions in others by interpreting facial expressions, body language, vocal tones and physiology

•P ay attention to your emotions and the emotions of your child

Understanding Emotions

Knowing the causes and consequences of emotions

•P oint out and talk about the facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language that reflect different emotions • Discuss with your child what leads him/her to feel a range of emotions • Share how your feelings have affected your thoughts and behaviors

Labeling Emotions

Expressing Emotions

Regulating Emotions

Having and using a wide array of words to describe the full range of emotions

•U se a wide range of emotion words with your child

Knowing when and how to express emotions with different people and in multiple situations

• Express feelings at the best time, in the best place, and in the best way

Knowing and using effective thought and action strategies to prevent, reduce, initiate and enhance different emotions

•M odel many different effective strategies for your child when you manage your own feelings

• E ncourage your child to find the best word to describe his/her feelings

• Help your child evaluate the best time and place to express their feelings

Helpful Strategies for Parents Thought Strategies: • Positive self-talk • Positive reappraisal • Acceptance • Visualization • Humor • Distraction (short-term) Action Strategies: • Good health habits • Food, sleep, exercise • Social support • Constructive activity • Avoiding/modifying situations • Problem solving • Seeking professional help

•H elp your child find useful and successful strategies for managing the range of emotions they experience

Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018








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Mateo Levin raised money for the ASPCA’s Virtual 5K Fundraiser. He set out with a goal to raise $500 for his dog Lucky, and in honor of his dog, Rolo. Thanks to his big heart, Mateo raised more than $800. He said, “I really hope that we can stop the abuse and pain that so many animals go through and give them loving and caring homes because not all animals have what my dog has.”

Lily Beal and her sister Olivia Beal, traveled to Los Angeles to perform Henry Box Brown by The Children’s Theater Company. Zach Eisenman’s fiction story, “Love of Tomorrow” was selected for publication in one of Writopia Lab’s online literary magazines. Katherine Scheman modeled for LA and NY Fashion Week for designer Ydamys Simo.

Artwork by several students from Gaynor was selected to be displayed in the Art for Everyone exhibit at Gallery MC. Art for Everyone is an organization spearheaded by a recent York Preparatory graduate that aims to inspire children with learning differences (ages 6-18) to build confidence, stimulate creativity, and provide them with a chance to showcase their amazing artwork. Students whose work was included in the show were: Odette Ruffalo, William Horan, Chase Wickham, Cooper Keating, Morgan Tennent, and Sterling Sandow.


READ BETWEEN THE LINES By Sloan Shapiro, Chair of Reading Department

Students in all clusters are strengthening their skills with their reading groups in various activities by mastering morphemes and flipping vowels.

Gaining Perspective Joyce Macedo’s Red Cluster reading group is reading literature that supports perspective taking. Recently, this group read The Chalk Box Kid by Clyde Robert Bulla, which gave the students ample opportunities to engage in meaningful discussions about character perspective. By examining the book through the main character’s (Gregory) eyes, the children gained a deeper understanding of the challenges and hardships he faced.

Mastering Morphemes Every year at Stephen Gaynor School, students are exposed to basic Latin prefixes, suffixes and roots, as well as Greek Combining Terms. This year, the Blue Cluster is using the previously taught morphemes as well as new roots and terms to build words used in their history and science classes. By placing morphemes into a context, students are able to expand their vocabulary and comprehension. This coordinated effort has proven successful in reinforcing taught concepts and allowing students to understand the connections among disciplines.

Flipping Out Yellow Cluster students are “flipping out” about flipping vowels. Kelsey Savage’s reading group got up and moving to make syllable coding multisensory. Words with a vowel-consonant-vowel (VCV) syllable division pattern require students to be able to quickly identify where a word is going to split and then determine the correct vowel sound in the initial syllable. As the greater percentage of VCV words contain open syllable prefixes affixed to Latin roots, these word attack strategies lay the foundation for upcoming morphemic analysis work.

Studying Sequencing Orange Cluster classes incorporate multisensory activities into every aspect of reading instruction. Jacqueline Kolbert and Samara Tanenbaum’s group used illustrations to support a sequencing activity and diligently practiced referring back to the text, The Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza, to check their work. Additionally, students did a character study to determine how the wolf evolved from a predator trying to fatten up his prey for his chicken stew to being “Uncle Wolf” to his 100 baby chicks. Students will do a close read of My Lucky Day, also by Keiko Kasza, and complete the unit with a compare and contrast activity. Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018


Hidden Talents Gaynor teachers, specialists, and staff members are known for their skill in the classroom, their commitment to Gaynor students, and as experts in the field of special education. But what other talents are hiding behind their smiling faces? We asked them to share their “hidden talents” with us. We said, “When you play two truths and a lie, what are the truths you choose that you think no one would believe?” See if you can guess which Gaynor educators are behind which talent! (See answers at bottom of page)

4 C is for

If I put my mind to it, I can …BE UNIQUE


Flying High


I’m an aerialist! I started on aerial silks, and have recently started working on static trapeze.

I played Cookie Monster at Sesame Place.


5 School of Rock

Fancy Footwork

I used to be a dancer and was in a Missy Elliott video when I was 15.

I played clarinet at Carnegie Hall with Kid Rock when I was 12.

1 Broadway Baby

I’ve performed on Broadway in Mama Mia! and Wicked, making my debut in Footloose in 2000.


Hoop Dreams

I was a high school basketball star!

11 Now Screening

2 Tapping Feet

I’m a screenwriter for the upcoming children’s TV show: “The Adventures of Snow White and Rose Red.”

I was a competitive tap dancer.

7 All-American I was an All-American lacrosse player in college.


We are published authors!


Doodling Around I am a closet doodler. 34

WINTER 2018 I Gaynor Gazette

1. Broadway Baby: Meredith Akins • 2. Tapping Feet: Michelle Fox • 3. We’re in Print: Sara Curwin, “Happily Ever After: A Journey of Survival,” and Alyssa Cowit, “I Did My Homework in My Head” • 4. C is for Cookie: Brendan Stackhouse • 5. School of Rock: Andrea Patti • 6. Hoop Dreams: Kristi Evans • 7. All-American: Jensen Paterson • 8. Doodling Around: Jessica Ressler • 9. Flying High: Shayna Weiss-Perea • 10. Fancy Footwork: Danny Brown • 11. Now Screening: Mirella Nappi

3 We’re in


Standing Rock Panel Young leaders from Seeding Sovereignty and the International Indigenous Youth Council spoke to our Middle School students about how they can work together to make their voices heard about important issues.

EC Costume Parade EC students went on parade for Halloween, showing off their costumes on the floors of the South Building. There were bunnies, and robots, and superheroes, oh my!

OT Board Game Students play an Occupational Therapy game they invented called Movement Madness! For the definition of Occupational Therapy, check the Gaynor Glossary on page 37.

R.E.A.D. Segment on PIX11 Mr. G of Channel 11 visited Gaynor to film an episode of his show, “It’s A G Thing” about Gaynor’s partnership with the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018



Blue Cluster students transformed the gymnasium into a glow in the dark wonderland for this year’s holiday party theme of “Glow Party.” Students arrived dressed to impress for their evening of fun, sponsored by the Parents’ Association. Student Council members worked closely with Alyssa Klein, the PA’s Middle School Chair, to plan the evening. A night of entertainment included a photo booth, LED ping pong table, light up card games, and a DJ who spun tunes for students to dance the night away among glow paint posters. The glow wasn’t just for decorations – students even feasted on light up cotton candy.

Thank you to the Parents’ Association for bringing such shine to this exciting evening!


WINTER 2018 I Gaynor Gazette



You’ve probably heard phrases like “universal design” and “executive function” used by faculty and staff – but what do they mean, exactly? Check this quick reference guide to the different terminology used at Gaynor.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY Assistive technology devices are identified in the IDEA 2004 as: Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. (

SCAFFOLDING In the field of education, the term scaffolding refers to a process in which teachers model or demonstrate how to solve a problem, and then step back, offering support as needed. Psychologist and instructional designer Jerome Bruner first used the term ‘scaffolding’ in this context back in the 1960s.

BACKWARD DESIGN Backward Design, also called Understanding by Design, backward planning or backward mapping, is a process that educators use to design learning experiences and instructional techniques to achieve specific learning goals. Backward Design begins with the objectives of a unit or course—what students are expected to learn and be able to do—and then proceeds “backward” to create lessons that achieve those desired goals. (

SCOPE AND SEQUENCE Scope is the depth and breadth of the content to be taught at a specific grade level and the development of the content across grade levels. Sequence is the order in which the content should be taught for the best learning (building on past knowledge) within a grade.

EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses. ( MINDFULNESS Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. (

MORPHOLOGY The study of the forms of words.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY A form of therapy in which patients are encouraged to engage in vocational tasks or expressive activities, as in art or dance, usually in a social setting.

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING (SEL) Social and emotional learning (SEL) provides a foundation for safe and positive learning, and enhances students’ ability to succeed in school, careers, and life. This is the curricular component to teaching social and emotional literacy (see below). ( SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LITERACY Emotional literacy is the term used to describe the ability to understand and express feelings. Social literacy is the development of social skills in a social setting, which helps people to communicate in a respectful manner, as well as becoming involved in a community. ( SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST A specialist who evaluates and works to prevent, assess, diagnose, and/or treat patients with speech, language, cognitivecommunication and swallowing disorders of all ages, from infants to the elderly. ( UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING (UDL) UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone—not a single, one-size-fitsall solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs. (

Gaynor Gazette I WINTER 2018






TO PA R E N TS O F A LU M N I : If this issue is addressed to your child who no longer maintains a permanent address at your home, please notify the Advancement Office at 212.787.7070 ext. 1115 or with the correct mailing address. Thank you.

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