Summer 2018 Gaynor Gazette

Page 1


Summer 2018

Stephen Gaynor School

Facing our emotions


Table of Contents SUMMER 2018

2017-2018 BOARD OF TRUSTEES BOARD OF TRUSTEES Grant Duers – Co-President Ericka Leslie Horan – Co-President Hamburg Tang – 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

As seen on Instagram at @sgaynorschool

Gordon Uehling *Ex officio member TRUSTEES EMERITUS Jo Ann Gaynor Gordon Gaynor GAYNOR COUNCIL Susan Wine Bender Benjamin Hamilton Seth Kramer ’95 Traci Lester Darya Mastronardi Gail Ross, Ph.D. Jeff Tarr Josh Wiener Editor: Deanna Ferrante Executive Editor: Kathryn Greene Design: Adriana Moreno Photography: Adam Gaynor, Kathryn Greene, and Deanna Ferrante Printing: Western Commercial Printing
























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On the Cover: Students in Ms. Kolbert's class created photographic portraits of different emotions in the RULER Mood Meter

As the school year ends and we

Puerto Rico. Our students created

welcome the summer season, I

artwork that was photographed

find myself straddling the red,

and turned into postcards, which

yellow, blue and green quadrants

raised much-needed funds for the

of the Yale RULER Mood Meter. I

Boys and Girls Clubs of Puerto

personally find the color scheme


to be the perfect way to describe

raising funds was for our students

my emotions at this time in the

to understand the needs of others

year. I look forward to my summer

who are struggling. Before we

filled with new adventures that I

start a service-learning project,

am both apprehensive and excited

our students first learn about

to experience. I am also sad to say

the needs of the people that we

goodbye to our graduates, but









grateful that I had an opportunity to watch them

is supported further by a project that actively

grow and thrive at Gaynor. Throughout the year our

engages our students. (Read more on page 20.) This

students have used the Mood Meter to help them

connection is what we are looking for in fostering our

Recognize, Understand, Label, Express, and Regulate

students’ responsibility to help others and instilling

their emotions. RULER is an important evidence-

the personal rewards associated with volunteer work.

based tool that builds emotional intelligence. As we enter our third year with the RULER program, we have already seen the benefits in our students’ ability to handle challenging social and emotional situations and utilize the program strategies to take a more positive approach to problem solving.



We take great pride in being able to provide strong co-curricular programing that includes music and drama, two disciplines that are terrific vehicles for building students’ social and emotional intelligence. This past year our community came together to support the arts at Gaynor at our appropriately-

We have also used the RULER program to deepen

themed Gala, “A Time to Shine.” (

comprehension in content areas. You will read in

page 4.) The proceeds from the Gala will help fund

the coming pages about how our Middle School

our new Performing Arts Center. Currently under

teachers use the Mood Meter to better understand

construction, the new space will provide dedicated

the emotions of famous civil rights activists. In the

rooms for drama and music. A nearly three-

Lower School, this approach is used to understand

hundred seat, state-of-the-art theater will provide

how Native Americans felt during the expansion of

our students with a proper venue to show off their

the Colonists or King George’s emotions following

talents. Be on the lookout for future announcements

the Boston Tea Party. Having the language to

this fall about the opening of our Performing Arts

understand historical figures through an emotional

Center. I am enthusiastically looking forward to

lens creates a greater awareness of the causes and

seeing our students shine on stage next year!

effects these people had on history. (Read more on page 24.) Building social and emotional intelligences is also at the heart of our community service initiatives. This year our community banded together to raise funds for the victims of the hurricanes that hit Houston and

DR. SCOTT GAYNOR Head of School





or fourteen years I have been blessed with

so kindly by so many people. Simply stated, the

education, opportunity, and compassion. I came

professionals I worked with for all these years endured

to Stephen Gaynor School right after finishing

my idiosyncratic and decidedly non-type-A traits. I

my graduate program and I was disillusioned.

learned so much from everyone and I believe they saw

My final paper in graduate school was a statement of

how much I appreciated their patience. The students we

purpose that I used to rebuff the educational model

teach always have one mission; extract as much energy

available for students with learning disabilities. Gaynor

from those around them as possible. They are relentless

turned out to be the oasis I had been searching for

in their desire and quest to learn, grow, and annoy. The

throughout my graduate program, and really for my

students at Gaynor are truly wonderful. Despite, or

entire life. Here I found a philosophy and mission that

maybe because of, the challenges they have faced at

insisted on thoughtful consideration of each individual

such a young age, they feel much like I do when they

student’s needs, and all the complex considerations that

come to school. The students feel like they can breathe,

come with such a rare approach. As a person who grew

like they can learn and that they are connected.

up with learning disabilities, too often it was clear that my psyche and emotional wellbeing were secondary to my ability to fit into a teaching model that did not include my learning needs when it was created. I felt like I could breathe at Gaynor, I felt like I could learn how to teach at Gaynor, and I felt connected at Gaynor.

I will be forever grateful to every teacher, specialist, administrator and student I have had the pleasure of working with at this transcendent institution. Yvette and Mimi created the foundation for healing, which in turn allowed for profound learning.

My small

contribution to this school has enlarged my view of

There have been mornings when I didn’t feel like I could

what is possible in education and I pray that I can carry

or wanted to wake up before the sun and migrate to

all I have learned forward.

148 W 90th. However, breaching the front doors had a

Good-bye for now.

baptismal effect on me that I am in awe of to this day. quality is the compassion I received from both faculty

John Beich

and students. Never could I have imagined being treated

Photo above: John Beich (left) with the Gaynor Class of 2018

My best guess as to the longevity of this rejuvenating






n July, Christine Karamanoglou — or “Mrs. K”

strongly with me.” Having worked in a variety of

as students will know her — will succeed John

schools since she first heard those words about

Beich as Gaynor’s Director of Middle School.

17 years ago, she recognizes that each place has

A graduate of SUNY Albany with a bachelor’s

its own philosophy and culture about learning in

in Social Studies Education, and of Columbia’s

general. “In special education schools, it is about


the individual and how he or she learns best. And







Disabilities, Karamanoglou also

as a result, it is not just about

has an M.Ed. in Reading and

the ‘learning,’ but about the

Learning Disabilities. She most

whole child. That can make all

recently served as the Dean

the difference for a child.”

of Academics at the Convent of the Sacred Heart on the Upper East Side, and previously worked as a Special Education Head Teacher at Mary McDowell Friends School. Karamanoglou also has 15 years of experience as a classroom teacher and reading specialist. She is looking forward to stepping into her new role at Gaynor, which she calls “a warm and caring community.” But she is also excited to return to special education.

In addition to several kinds of schools, Karamanoglou has also worked with a variety of ages, but she holds a special place in her heart when it comes to middle school students. “They are mature enough to have a sense of humor but not take themselves



They are starting to discover the




passions — music, art, sports, technology, etc. Middle school students are still at an age where

Karamanoglou said, “In a prior school, the head of

you can teach values and morals and the adults in

school said that special education is education at

their lives are still an important voice for them.”

its best. With each passing year, it resonates more

I am excited to welcome Christine to Gaynor in the fall. Her prior experience in administration and working with children with learning differences make her an excellent fit for the new Middle School director.” —Scott Gaynor, Head of School




Gaynor Gala:

A TIME to SHINE On March 6, Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers was transformed for Gaynor Gala 2018. The theme, “A Time to Shine,” highlighted the importance of, and Stephen Gaynor School’s commitment to, the performing arts. After a robust silent auction while guests mingled over cocktails, everyone headed in for the main event. Head of School Dr. Scott Gaynor welcomed everyone, and began by thanking 2018 Gala Co-Chairs Aly Organek and Marcy Sakhai. Along with the Auction Leadership Committee parent volunteers, Aly and Marcy worked tirelessly for months to prepare for the event, and as Dr. Gaynor said, “practically moved in to Gaynor” in order to ensure the Gala was a success. Dr. Gaynor highlighted the importance of the evening’s

The arts are a critical component of our program at Gaynor.” —Dr. Gaynor

theme. He said, “The arts are a critical component of our program at Gaynor. We strongly believe that when children have the opportunity to find success in the arts, they build the confidence and resilience necessary to tackle things that are difficult for them in the classroom.” He continued, “We simply want to have exceptional programing and facilities for the arts that match our commitment to reading, writing, math, and science. Our new Performing Arts Center, currently under construction and partially funded, will include a new music room, drama space and nearly 300 seat state-of-the-art theater. With your support tonight, we can help get this space completed. Our children deserve the chance to shine on stage.”

current Trustee Henrietta Jones was honored with the Founders’ Key Award for her dedication and leadership. Gaynor Trustee and alumni parent Carol Feinberg joined Dr. Gaynor at the podium to present the award. The Founders’ Key Award represents the work and foresight of Gaynor co-founders Dr. Miriam Michael and Yvette Siegel-Herzog, two visionaries who built a school around a simple, yet powerful, concept of unlocking the potential of each child. 4


Photos: Brett Deutsch Photography

Former President of the Board of Trustees and


Henrietta Jones, this year’s recipient, embodies these

Corcoran, real estate mogul and star of Shark Tank,

values and helped champion this cause through her

described her struggles growing up with dyslexia. Actor

leadership as Gaynor’s board president for six years and

and activist Ruffalo focused on the transformational

as a current board member. Dr. Gaynor highlighted just a

effect the school has had on his three children, and led

few of Jones’ accomplishments: “Henrietta shepherded

the audience in a standing ovation for Gaynor’s faculty

our school through unprecedented growth. She oversaw

and staff. After a video presentation highlighting the

the doubling of the student body and faculty; orchestrated

importance of performing arts, Gaynor students Aly

the development of our new South Building with Early

Ferdinand, Remy Goued, and Zia Uehling took the

Childhood program, Middle School, STEM and science

stage and brought the house down with a beautiful and

labs, art studios, athletic field and soon a Performing

moving rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Arts Center; and she created a board and administrative

Gaynor teachers Andrea Patti and Brendan Stackhouse

structure that upholds best practices.”

deserve many thanks for working with the students so

Describing Jones as “elegant, philanthropic, and always

they could shine onstage.

leading with her heart,” Dr. Gaynor said, “In her tenure

This year’s live auctioneer was Lydia Fenet of Christie’s.

as chair of the board, she allowed us to reach more

The attendees warmed to her style and grace, and

families, but also maintained and might I say enhanced

donated generously during the live auction. Between the

the quality of services we bring to children. We are a

silent auction and live auction, well over $1 million was

much better school because of Henrietta.”

raised. A highlight of the evening was a performance by

Dr. Gaynor then welcomed the hosts for the evening, Gaynor parents Mark Ruffalo and Barbara Corcoran.

Tony Award-nominee and Broadway actress and singer Phillipa Soo. Soo spoke of the incredible power of the SUMMER 2018



performing arts and everything they’ve given her: of course, her career, but also her best friends, colleagues, and her husband. Soo began with “Times Are Hard for Dreamers” from her starring turn in Broadway’s Amélie. She then performed “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods, and segued seamlessly into a beautiful rendition of “Dear Theodosia” from the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, in which she starred. She closed the evening with Frank Sinatra’s, “Dream (When You’re Feeling Blue).” We are certain that the only reason anyone in the crowd felt blue was because they knew that Gaynor Gala 2018 had come to an end. We would like to sincerely thank all of our generous sponsors, especially Fariba Secret Events for their donation of the beautiful floral centerpieces. Thank you to all of our community members, individuals and businesses alike, who supported Stephen Gaynor School and Gaynor Gala 2018. 6






Five Questions With...

Yvette Siegel-Herzog Yvette Siegel Herzog co-founded Stephen Gaynor School in 1962 along with her friend and colleague, Dr. Miriam Michael, whom she met as a student at New York University. Though the field of special education was in its infancy at the time, the friends saw the need to establish a school for bright students with learning challenges. The pair created a school where the students could thrive, pioneering the individualized, multisensory teaching approach used today. We sat down with Yvette Siegel-Herzog for the inaugural installment of our new series, “Five Questions With...”

What are the signs that Stephen Gaynor School is “doing it right”? Who or what have been your greatest inspirations or influences? That’s a very difficult question. You know nothing is ever unilateral, from one source.

I see children learning. I see children making





doing today what they didn’t do last week. I see children being children. In the sense that they no longer say “why me”? They discover that the “me” is many; it is not only they alone who struggle. They sit next to other children who are

Certainly, my father has been a gigantic influence. My

challenged in reading, they sit next to other children

father paved the way by being innovative, by starting

who can’t find the right words, or who write numbers

and restarting, and showing me how to find the way

backwards or upside down. And I see children who

when you are lost. Every immigrant is lost at the start

learn how to communicate. To be a cohesive group and

because he or she has certainly lost something, terra

to gain strength through what was once their failure.

firma, or maybe what should have been theirs forever but they had to leave through no fault of their own. And sometimes, you are influenced by people who

These children speak to a hope for the future. That all kinds of change are possible. What is very hopeful

show you what you do not want to be.

to me is that we are reaching the parents, because

So you really become someone because of the events

inclusion of parents is very important, and is a new

in your life, your own immediate family, and of course

trend in education.

the people you meet as you develop a semblance of intelligence and thoughtfulness through school, college, friendships, successes and failures.



without that we could not be as successful. The


That brings me to question 3. If you could suggest one thing parents can do outside the classroom to help their child be successful, what would it be? I think all the issues about diversity, about egalitarianism, respect for others, good manners, social corroboration, and colleagueship, and settling arguments through negotiation and verbal methods would not only develop fabulous language skills but would also make for an incredibly more peaceful society. Issues of race, color, creed have to be addressed at home in addition to school.

What keeps you coming back to work every day? My love for the school. In part it’s all the children I have right here under my nose. It is the stimulation of my colleagues. It is the skill of the people around me to allow me to forget that the future is shrinking in my personal biological, corporeal life. It’s complex. I would hate to feel “excessed” — I would hate to feel I am not doing something useful. One is tempted, but relaxation is only lovely for a short spell in the context of being useful.

If you could make a wish on behalf of Stephen Gaynor School, what would it be? To continue the success on which it has been built thus far. To always make sure that every child is a) getting what we say he’s getting, and b) getting what he needs. To continue to have the best teachers, taking care of the vulnerable, delicate, resilient, wonderful children that have been entrusted to us. And above all that there is honesty in the relationships between and among the staff, the children, and everyone associated with our program. It’s not going wider, it’s going as deep as we can. When I see a child who needs us, when I have a place for him. When I know exactly, at the time that I meet him, what he needs to get to the next step. It’s really to be the platform for a child’s takeoff. That’s what I want to provide. Because we have grown, there are so many children now, and so many adults, and so many teachers and so many directors, it’s no longer a straight relationship from myself to the child. But, the better the intermediaries are, and the more they are on that wavelength of paving the way, the more the child will be able to accomplish what I envision. We are a good institution. Solid — the foundation is rock. And yet, porous enough so that we can be open to innovation in teaching, in thinking.




Photography U P D AT E

This semester, Jensen Paterson’s Yellow Cluster class learned advanced camera techniques and applied them to photography assignments such as patterns and textures. Students learned advanced image editing tools in Adobe Photoshop including the cloning stamp and spot healing brush tool, to retouch and improve the overall quality of their images. For the final project, student work was mounted and exhibited in the school.

Calvin Noto


Hampton Fraser

Morgan Tang

Cooper Stelwagon

Cassandra Ball

Kaylia Dobrick SUMMER 2018




“What is the biggest room in the world? The room for improvement.” It is a quote Pat Fitzgerald, one of Gaynor’s physical education teachers, likes to share often with his students. While physical education classes can help improve fitness, they also can have positive benefits beyond the physical. For students with learning differences who can and often do struggle with self-esteem, social skills, and confidence, the benefits can be even more critical and sometimes even life-changing. According to PHIT America, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing physical activity and fitness, physical education programs result in long-lasting positive outcomes including: Skill and motor

Stress-reduction: by offering an outlet

Strengthened peer

skills development

for releasing tension and anxiety


Influencing moral development,

Experience in

leadership, cooperation with others

setting goals

Improved self-confidence

Facilitating the development of student

Improved academics,

and self-esteem

responsibility for health and fitness

the big bonus benefit!

Teaching self-discipline

Respect: PE helps students respect their bodies, classmates, and teammates

As an example, Fitzgerald can point to a current student at Gaynor who has not only improved his skill set but also grown tremendously on and off both the basketball court and baseball diamond. Fitzgerald says he has gained confidence and feels as though he can compete

Famous Athletes with Learning Differences

with anyone. In other cases, physical education can be completely transformative. Fitzgerald recalls “Joseph,” a 2012 graduate he worked with who came to Gaynor unmotivated, defiant, obese, with low self-esteem and no interest in physical activity. Joseph returned to Gaynor

Michael Phelps

several years ago for a visit and according to Fitzgerald he was a different person. “He had lost a tremendous amount of weight, was on his school’s track team, confident in himself, and matured more than I could have ever imagined. It was amazing to see.”

Simone Biles

Fitzgerald credits Gaynor staff for opening the door to help instill confidence in students as well as encouraging their own hard work and perseverance. “The thing that really makes me realize the growth of our students is when I see them graduate and walk across the

Tim Tebow

stage in June,” says Fitzgerald. “To see how far they have grown and how many obstacles they have overcome is very powerful.” 12



DAY FI EL D Field Day on Randall’s Island was a success! Although the day ended with one of the closest




Team came out on top at 930840) everyone was a winner thanks to the fun in the sun!










residents took a “colorblind” approach to race and

Committee continued its sponsorship of an ongoing

racism. According to Michael, talking about race where

series of lectures. The broad concepts of race, racism,

she grew up was placed in a category similar to politics,

inequality, and microagressions have been discussed

money, or religion — one didn’t. Looking back she

in varying detail and experiences by visiting lecturers

recognizes the harm that causes, and uses that as a

Dr. Glenn Singleton and Dr. Derald Wing Sue, and in

foundation for her presentations; not only do families

February Dr. Ali Michael spoke to further the discussion.

need to talk about race, but they need to do so often.

Titled, “Building Healthy Multiracial Communities: What

Making conversations ongoing is crucial, according to

Do White Children Need to Know About Race?” Dr.

Michael. “You cannot only talk about race when there

Michael set the stage using her childhood experiences,

is a problem because then you’re only ever associating

growing up in a town that was 99.8 percent white.

race with problems. And if you make the conversations

Although not legally or officially segregated, it was

ongoing, then you will also be more suited to talk about

so, due to its homogenous population where many

it when there is a problem.”


A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki

Everyday Antiracism by Mica Pollock

NurtureShock by Bronson and Merryman

Starting Small: Teaching Tolerance in PreSchool and the Early Grades by the Teaching Tolerance Project

Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice by Paul Kivel

Dr. Eli Green As more people identify as transgender at younger ages, it is increasingly important for parents, families, and professionals to be properly educated in order to help this population compassionately and effectively. Dr. Eli Green recognized this need and made it the mission of his company, the Transgender Training Institute. His work is particularly important in schools, where the absence of acceptance, inclusion, and understanding can have many negative effects, potentially starting at a young age. He presented his well-received talk, “Understanding the Identities of Transgender Students” to a room full of parents, teachers, and staff at Gaynor.





One morning, Jamie Kruger and Jordan Thaler’s classroom quietly transformed. The cubbies became a checkout line complete with cash register, the teacher’s desk turned into a fruit stand, and desks were pushed together to create a sushi station. And it was then that the Room 217 Supermarket — as students officially named it —was open for business. Students handed out bags of tokens, the monetary system accepted by the mart, to "customers" (aka faculty and staff) upon entering. So what does a supermarket have to do with education? As it turns out, a lot. What looks like (and is) a fun project is an example of Project-Based Learning. According to Amy Mayer, CEO of friEdTechnology, “In Project-Based Learning, the projects only serve as an infrastructure to allow users to play, experiment, use simulations, address authentic issues, and work with relevant peers and community members in pursuit of knowledge.” Project-Based Learning can be even more important for students with learning differences. The class started the project with research, visiting a neighborhood grocery store to take notes of the layout as well as prices of items. Next, students collected clean containers from home to use as merchandise for their supermarket. Then, they decided on sections of their store, such as dairy products and cereals, organizing the goods accordingly. “I think it’s critical because a lot of the times the children can’t always tell us what they know, but they can show us,” said Donna Logue, director of the Lower School. For example, one student arranged his assigned display of products by featuring the most prominent items on a shelf without any direction to do so. According to Logue, although that showed he understood why that was important, he would not have been able to articulate why. “Another reason these projects are so rich,” she continued, “is that they not only integrate skills they’re developing in other subjects but also show us where some of the gaps in their understanding are.” The supermarket incorporated all major subject areas including reading, mathematics, writing, social-emotional learning,

ted dap to a e nb oor g ca Next d achel , n i n s. ar dR ject d le nt way rs an r pro ssert e s re ive simila to De d a -ba ject y diffe nda R in a we n Pro y a did n oom rvie L in m m 217, udents classr ts inte went o n t r o i n e s o e e s ig R ud th d ev t, B ert’ r st ng Alp formi . Thei ers, an tauran ry. s v s e ry tran Bake hef, ser ide re ir bak S e h c t t h Ear sional r Wes h for t pe rc fes pro r of Up o resea u d a to y’s, to d d a D

research, and social studies. And perhaps most critically, by undertaking such a large and collaborative project, executive functioning skills. “Throughout the process of researching, preparing, creating, executing and reflecting, the students grew both individually and as a classroom community,” said Ms. Kruger. “It was incredible to witness the supermarket really go from my vision to their creation.” SUMMER 2018



DO THE MATH: A C l o s e r Lo o k a t S i n g a p o r e M a t h By J e a n n e Lo tt , Math Specialist You’ve probably wondered why the math your child

of the math they are learning; pictorial representations

is doing doesn’t look like the math you did as a child.

provide additional understanding through visuals; and

The simple explanation is your child’s math has been

finally the experience is expressed in abstract numbers

influenced by the success of the tiny country of

and symbols.






rankings for math and science according to the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS).

Since our place value system is the foundation of our number system, students learn to decompose numbers according to place value. Once students truly understand

The framework of Singapore Math is developed around

the value of a number and can decompose it into parts

problem-solving with a well-researched, concrete-

in a variety of ways in order to solve the problem, then

pictorial-abstract approach to teaching math. Hands-on

they are able to understand why algorithms work and that

manipulatives allow students to experience the meaning

understanding is more effective than memorizing rules.

Student is decomposing 225, 225, and 725 into 200 and 25, 200 and 25, and 700 and 25. Then he can add 200 + 200 + 700 + 75 to reach the total of 1175.




Number sense is developed through these layers of experience as students explore the component parts of numbers. They are often able to solve problems that may seem quite difficult if computed with a traditional algorithm. Another example is the following multi-digit number multiplied by a single-digit number:

65 x 6 = (60 x 6) + (5 x 6) =390

The number 65 is decomposed into its place value parts in order to create more simple arithmetic.

A vertical version of a similar problem might look like this:

465 x6 2400 360 30

400 x 6 60 x 6 5x6


Students’ ability to think about the numbers and develop thinking skills is more important than learning rote calculations. The concept of metacognition (the ability to think about how you are thinking) is closely tied to the framework of Singapore Math. Learning alternative ways to approach math problems allows students to think critically about why the math works. The next time you see your child solving math problems in ways that make you wonder what they are doing, know that they are using the number system as a platform to develop great thinking skills!




READING DEPARTMENT UPDATE By The Reading Department: Sloan Shapiro  Kristi Evans  Robyn Kramer

PHONOLOGICAL AND PHONEMIC AWARENESS: WHAT’S ALL THE PHUSS? By Kristi Evans What is the difference between Phonological and Phonemic Awareness? Phonological awareness covers many skills. (One of them is phonemic awareness.) Children who have phonological awareness are able to identify and make oral rhymes, can clap out the number of syllables in a word, and can recognize words with the same beginning sounds like ‘monkey’ and ‘money.’ Phonemic awareness refers to the specific ability to focus on and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. For example, the word ‘cat' has three phonemes: /c/ /a/ /t/ and the word ‘frog’ has four phonemes: /f/ /r/ /o/ /g/. Children who are phonemically aware can blend the sounds /d/ /o/ /g/ into the word ‘dog’, identify the second sound in the word ‘spider’ /p/, and delete the last sound in ‘cart’ and say “car.” Why are Phonological Awareness (PA) skills important? They help build the neural systems for reading. In Overcoming Dyslexia, Dr. Sally Shaywitz writes, “People are often surprised to learn that it is phonemic awareness and not intelligence that best predicts ease of learning to read.”

What activities can I do at home to improve my child’s PA skills? •

Rhyming - Read nursery rhymes. Play simple rhyming games with your child, such as taking turns coming up with words that rhyme. For example, mat and hat.

Sentence Segmentation - Use tokens or beads to count the number of words heard in a sentence. The elephant ran fast. (4 words)

Syllables – Have your child hop or clap once for every syllable. Pancake (2), watermelon (4). Reverse syllables like cobweb/webcob, or add syllables to a word. (Add star to the beginning of fish – starfish.)

Phoneme Manipulation - Ask your child, “What is the first sound you hear in van?” “What is the last sound you hear in desk?” “What sound is the same in fix, fall and fun?” “What word is /b/ /i/ /g/?” “Put these sounds together to make a word /f/ /l/ /o/ /p/.” "Let’s think of all the words that begin with /s/.”



DID YOU KNOW? All Gaynor students have free access to Learning Ally, an online program with hundreds of human-read audiobooks. Try it out for summer reading by downloading the Learning Ally LINK app and logging in with your child’s existing username and password. Please email if you need help logging in.


LASTING SPARKS OF CREATION by Robyn Kramer, Silver Cluster Reading Specialist As they grow in reading maturity, children may need

came up in the story that were not stated explicitly

outlets different from traditional comprehension

but that were more inferred," a proud and reflective



Ms. Buckles shared. As the literature unit came to a

understanding of novels. Throughout the semester,






close, students internalized many deeper concepts

teachers in the Silver Cluster have been guiding

that heightened conversation, awakened curiosity,

their students through alternative and meaningful

and dare we say, sparked some creativity? Along

activities and projects to help their students show

with scaffolded language and writing opportunities,

the connections they make to literature. Literature

Ms. Buckles and her students embarked on an end-

sparked creativity among several Silver Cluster

of-book project better suited to meet their creative

students, and they invited their

thinking skills. "Because we were

fellow classmates to participate

all inspired by the concept of a

in what they felt was a meaningful

Wishtree, we wanted to bring

end-of-book project.

one to Gaynor. We wanted all the kids and teachers to experience

Jody Buckles, head Silver Cluster

the joy of making a wish,� Ms.

teacher, led her young readers

Buckles smiled as she recalled



students and colleagues placing

activities while reading Katherine




their wishes upon the wishtree


hanging outside her classroom.

Wishtree, a novel

told through the narration of

The project not only incorporated

an old oak tree named Red.

a thought-provoking writing piece,

Weaving together several stories,

but it also allowed students to

the central conflict arises when a stranger carves the word "leave" into Red's bark, targeting character Samar's Muslim family. Before diving into the novel and its relevant modernday content, Ms. Buckles provided her students with






including learning about Muslim culture, vocabulary,

develop their executive functioning skills by organizing the project from beginning to end. The class designed and built the wishtree, calculated and crafted all the materials their fellow Gators needed to make and post their wishes, and expertly advertised to faculty, staff, and their friendly Silver

Islamophobia, racism, and ways to understand and

and Gold Cluster cohorts.

connect with their Muslim-American peers. When

After concluding the literature unit on Wishtree, Silver

ready, they began reading the novel and linking their new background knowledge to the story and its relatable characters. "One of the first things they did to synthesize their understanding was to write a series of diary entries and news reports based on different characters' perspectives. They did an amazing job throughout the writing activities incorporating character traits while bringing to life each character's voice. It was exciting to hear them comment more on things that

Cluster reader Brook Lawrence shared, "I learned a lot about friendship, tolerance, and patience in Wishtree." Fellow student Leah Bacall chimed in saying, "I would recommend this book because it has many lessons about not judging others just because they might not look like me." The wishes on their tree ranged from trivial to profound. Regardless of the wish, there is no doubt the creative project sparked curiosity in others about Wishtree and perhaps left a lasting impression upon its young readers. SUMMER 2018



Art Works for Puerto Rico The 2017-2018 school year started with a message

administrators, staff and teachers, each cluster was

of help, hope, and stretching the idea of community

tasked with creating a collaborative work of art

beyond our geographic boundaries. After kicking

themed around Puerto Rico. Gaynor’s dedicated

off our hurricane relief initiative with a school

and creative fine arts team, Andrea Hochman, Ruth

supply drive for Briarmeadow Charter School in

Rachlin, Adam Gaynor, and Sophia Saad, worked

the fall, Gaynor Cares turned its focus southeast to

collaboratively with their students to create beautiful

Puerto Rico. Although the drive for Houston was a

works of art. Using mediums including sculpture,

huge success, replicating it would not be possible

paint, mosaic, and mixed media, each cluster-

due to massive shipping delays in Puerto Rico from

produced piece was unique in both focus and

Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

material. All of the pieces drew inspiration from the abstract (the meanings of

In order for the Gaynor community to

home, kindness, perseverance) to the

help, it was necessary to raise money.

tangible (reconstruction, landscapes,

But it was important that students

and famous people).

were involved in both a meaningful and educational way. Thanks to an

On April 26 and 27, during Relatives

existing professional contact, Gaynor

and Special Friends Days, the artwork

chose to directly support the Boys

was displayed in the gymnasium.

and Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico. The non-

In order to benefit the Boys and Girls

profit organization has fifty years of service

Clubs of Puerto Rico, each piece was

and is a leader in after-school programs and services

photographed and commemorated in a set of ten

for girls and boys between the ages of 6 to 18.

postcards offered for sale, including one with letters






representatives from across the school including

from Briarmeadow Charter School. Thanks to the generosity of faculty, staff, and friends of Gaynor, over $2,800 was raised.

Bonus Content Online! PIX 11’s Mr. G came to Gaynor to see our projects in person and his camera crew captured the gallery and interviewed students for his show, “It’s a G Thing.” See the segment at



Art Works for Puerto Rico: A Deeper Look

Early Childhood: All year in the EC’s therapeutic art classes, students worked on emotional expression and creating objects that made them feel safe through words and yarn. The Willow Room decorated wishing rocks with words of encouragement. The Hudson Room wrapped wishing wands and put them together in a bouquet, and the Claremont Room beaded a wish catcher. Each strand of beads represented a hope or wish from each individual student.

Pink Cluster: As an extension of their social studies curriculum, the Pink Cluster focused on specific community helpers such as electricians, paramedics, and construction workers to inspire their two collaborative murals. The first mural represents Hurricane Maria and the second represents the sunshine, brought to the island by those helping to rebuild once the storm had passed.




Red Cluster: After learning about the various bridges of New York City, Red Cluster students used the theme of bridges in both their literal and figurative senses. They created scenes to represent New York City, Houston, and Puerto Rico and three-dimensional bridges to link the cities together. As a whole, the piece represents people being connected to one another as well as being able to reach others when help is needed.

Orange Cluster: Orange Cluster students discussed how the concept of “home” is not necessarily four walls but a feeling. They combined this idea with knowledge from their science class about what materials can be used to create successful structures in humid climates. Each student made a tile with what home means to them, which were assembled together to build a threedimensional home, using accurate materials such as foam, felt, and wood.






students, “If someone came to our art gallery, how would we want them to feel?” Building on a yearlong theme of kindness and lending a helping hand that has been incorporated into the Yellow Cluster’s curriculum, the sculpture illustrates a cooperative sentiment and understanding the struggle of others. Supportive words were written on ribbon and intertwined with the plaster hands to represent the literal act of giving. 22 GAYNOR GAZETTE

ART WORKS FOR PUERTO RICO Silver Cluster: Ms. Hochman asked students to create art informed by their




in response to the devastation in Puerto





art into clay slabs, which she then asked them to break. “It is about the idea of something happening to something you care about. You can be upset and take no action, or you can work on putting it back together to make something beautiful.” The broken pieces were then painted and transformed into cohesive, meaningful artworks. One prominently




and the words “heal,” “create,” and “overcome.” The hammer is symbolic because as a tool, it has the ability to both destroy and create. Green Cluster: Green Cluster students used photography to capture sanguine portraits of themselves holding handwritten messages in both English and Spanish, once again using a theme of hope to uplift and inspire.

Gold Cluster: Rather than focus on the devastation, Gold Cluster students decided to celebrate the beauty of Puerto Rico, painting scenes of some of its most famous Blue Cluster: Blue Cluster students turned to

landscape and architectural features.

history to inspire their artwork, researching people of Puerto Rican descent and using photos of them to create a collage on the background of a Puerto Rican flag. Mr. Meyer’s advisory group researched and wrote biographies of notable, but not world-famous Puerto Ricans and both pieces were displayed side-by-side. SUMMER 2018 23


Facing Our Emotions Last year, Gaynor selected the social-emotional program, RULER, to be integrated into the curriculum. According to, “Social-emotional learning (SEL) instruction helps kids learn how to cope with feelings, set goals, make decisions, and get along with others.” Since RULER’s launch, teachers in every Cluster are finding creative ways to incorporate it into their students’ lives. Keep reading to see how the program is being tailored for different age groups and needs. MIDDLE SCHOOL

“It is helpful for me to know how they’re feeling,”

Race, religion, and LGBTQ+ issues are three of the main

says Ms. Kolbert. If a student who needs extra

topics Rochelle Hoffman has been covering as part of

help in reading is already feeling anxious at

lessons on civics and social activism. Each student created

the beginning of the day, and the warm-up

their own research report on famous activists, including

activity is reading, then Ms. Kolbert can be

Jackie Robinson, Ruby Bridges, and Nelson Mandela. Using

more aware of that. Her students are free to

their knowledge of the Mood Meter, students used it to

readjust the meter at any time if and when they feel

identify how activists might have felt during

it is necessary.

certain periods in their lives. The ultimate goal is for students to

EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER On the surface, it could appear that introducing the Mood

be able to effectively identify their

Meter to children ages 3-6 might be too complicated to

own energy levels, and then work on

do so effectively. For Hudson Room students, it took

strategies to regulate it. Using the Mood

a tactile, multisensory approach including

Meter ties into student advocacy, executive

dance, art, photography, dance, and music.

functioning, impulse control, and being able to identify

First, students thought about the Mood

triggers that make them feel certain feelings as well as

Meter energies and the physical response

balancing and regulating their own emotions.

to specific emotions. The Mood Meter was

LOWER SCHOOL In Jacqueline Kolbert’s Orange Cluster class, the Mood Meter is as much a classroom fixture as the SMART board or books. Prominently displayed in the center of the

incorporated into body breaks during the day, an obstacle course in the classroom, and almost every morning students placed which quadrant they were in on the attendance chart.

classroom and constructed out of Lego board,

Hudson Room students also did therapeutic art once per

Ms. Kolbert’s Mood Meter makes it fun for

week. They painted watercolor Mood Meters, even taking

students to express their moods. Each morning,

care to correspond the brush strokes to the energy of

after students unpack, they’re encouraged to

the quadrant. In the Willow Room, they did a similar

place where they are, emotionally, within the

project but asked students to draw faces or simply use

four quadrants.

colors and intensity to match the right quadrants.

BONUS CONTENT ONLINE! To see RULER in action in Gaynor’s classrooms, go to to see a mini-documentary which includes interviews with teachers and footage of students. 24 GAYNOR GAZETTE





Civil Rights icon Ruby Bridges came to Gaynor to speak with students in a special assembly In the fall of 1960 in New Orleans,

protected her on every single trip in

and engaging. One student asked

Louisiana, six-year-old Ruby Bridges

and out of the building.

if walking by the screaming crowds

was getting ready for her first day of

ever scared her, to which she replied,

first grade. What is an unremarkable

“Whenever I went through the crowd,

event for most six year olds — if

I thought of something that made

anything, a little nerve-wracking — would be no ordinary day for Ruby Bridges. Instead, Bridges was making history. She was the first AfricanAmerican




William Frantz Elementary School. Four U.S. Marshals protected her from screaming protestors who were lining the sidewalks and crowding around




Don’t follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail…” -Ruby Bridges

me happy.” She also emphasized the importance of giving everyone you meet a chance. “It doesn’t matter what your friends look like, just that they know how to be a good friend,” said Bridges, facing the crowd of students. “From where I sit, you all look like M&Ms. You look different, but you’re all the same inside.” She shared that she and her teacher,

Bridges attended the school, she was separated from her would-be






classmates. Her first grade teacher,

students using photos and videos

Ms. Henry, taught her one on one and

spanning decades of her life. Before

neither one of them missed a single

moving on to a new photo, she

day of school the entire academic

would stop to answer students’

year. Day in and day out, the Marshals

questions, which were thoughtful

Ms. Henry, are best friends to this day and see each other at least once every year. What has become a beautiful, decades-long friendship between Ms. Henry and Ruby all started because they both gave each other a chance. SUMMER 2018 25


LEAVING A LEGACY: Gaynor Alumni Network Honors Faculty and Staff Surrounded by faculty, staff, and alumni, Dr. Scott Gaynor opened the second annual Legacy Faculty and Staff Event by reflecting how much can change in just one decade. Ten years ago the iPhone had just been introduced, the last book in the Harry Potter series was published, Barack Obama announced his candidacy, and Stephen Gaynor School was only in its second year in the North Building and had an enrollment of less than 200 students. The event, hosted by the Gaynor Alumni Network, reconnects alumni with one another, their teachers, and shows them how much Gaynor has grown — all while recognizing those who have been part of the journey for ten, twenty, and even fifty-plus years. “We are here today honoring a group of teachers who have been part of the amazing growth of Gaynor over the last ten years,” said Dr. Gaynor. “We have doubled in size. Yvette Siegel-Herzog was the source of our mission and you all have done the work in the classrooms, providing an individualized curriculum and making sure we have stayed true to that mission.” Among those honored, Math Specialist Anne Bode was the first to be recognized, followed by Co-Director of Gaynor’s Community Learning Center and Admissions Associate Kate Adlin. Assistant Head of School Jill Thompson then awarded the honorees with twenty years or more of service. “I have been fortunate to learn from these veterans who have helped 26 GAYNOR GAZETTE

LEGACY FACULTY AND STAFF EVENT show me the way and I am grateful for the history, experience, and passion that you bring to Gaynor each and every day,” she said. “It is obvious what a special place Gaynor is to our community and the people I am about to talk about exemplify what makes Gaynor so special.” Thompson honored Middle School Head Teacher Chris


Meyer. With twenty-one years of service, he is one of the longestserving faculty members at Gaynor. And finally, Thompson and Dr. Gaynor said thank you and wished farewell to Middle School Director John Beich, who is departing Gaynor after fourteen years.

20 YEARS OR MORE Chris Meyer

After celebrating their colleagues, faculty and staff were happy to reconnect with their former students, who ranged in graduate years from 1974 to 2017. Alumni shared their various accomplishments, including being a comedian in Los Angeles, working in advertising, attending graduate school, making the headmaster’s list, and receiving a dance scholarship in Rome. There were many numbers mentioned during the event but most importantly is the number “one” — representing each person’s commitment to unlocking the potential of each individual child. And

10 YEARS OF MORE Kate Adlin Anne Bode Jessica Brandeis Barbara Kider Rachel Zucker

no matter the amount of years that pass, it is something that will never change.

SUMMER 2018 27


College Bound

Gaynor alumni who are on track to be graduates of the Class of 2022 are headed off to colleges all over the country this fall. We are so proud of them and can’t wait to hear about their forthcoming academic accomplishments. Here’s just a sampling:




ax Esh ’99 remembers

pace and grow as an individual,” as

Gaynor peers at York Preparatory

his time at Gaynor not

he recalls. Esh is currently living out

School, where he graduated high

only as a place where

his dream of working in sports as a

school. Drawn to the sunshine, Esh

he made his best friends

Senior Specialist for Premium Sales &

decided to attend college at the

and found his love of basketball,

Service with the New York Yankees.


but also as the place where he was

Max credits Gaynor with helping him

majored in Sociology and minored

Field of finally able to “learn at my own

to get to the career he loves today, saying “Being learning disabled



been a hardship but

focus on students like myself, Gaynor

was a key component in molding me into the person I am today.”




in Business. After




Esh worked three part-time jobs in order to figure out how to find the

DREAMS with Gaynor’s specific


right job in sports. He worked as an assistant



at York Prep, as a server and busser throughout New York City, and even manned the scoreboard at Madison Square Garden for private events — anything that would bring him closer to his goal.

After applying for every job posting he saw, Esh got his big break when he got a call back for a seasonal evening

Growing up, Esh wanted to play

sales position with the New York



Yankees. After spending a summer

Jordan. Although he had a feeling

working two day jobs and cold

that making it as an NBA player

calling for the Yankees at night, Esh

was probably out of the question,

impressed the team at the Yankees

he learned from other successful

so much that he was the only person

people to not say “I can’t do

that summer promoted to a full-time

that,” but rather, “How can I

role in Inside Sales. Since then, Esh

do that?” By asking himself

has been promoted multiple times

that question, he was able to

and is now the highest level of sales

visualize himself working with

associate with the Yankees.




a sports team. He didn’t know in what capacity,

Esh loves his job because it is

but knew he would get

something new every day, “One

there somehow. With grand goals of working in the field of professional sports and also having a learning difference, Esh knew that he would have to

day I could be in the city meeting with the top CEOs from the largest companies in the country and the next day visiting my clients at a Yankees game.”

work ten times harder to “close the

Although Esh has achieved his

gap” and achieve his dreams. After

goals, he isn’t stopping there. He

Gaynor, Esh attended The Windward

plans to get his real estate license

School for grades 7, 8, and 9 and


then went on to join many of his

summer of 2018.






XX Max Esh '99 SUMMER 2018 29


Alumni Updates

Barron Craig ’88 Craig went to the Dwight School for high school and graduated from Hampton University. He runs a financial education business with his father, and is also a teacher.

Marissa Lelogeais ’98 Lelogeais (pictured with her mother), attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. She now lives in New York and performs with her band, The Merry Rockers, which she founded seven years ago with friends from Berklee. Lelogeais, who was born legally blind and with cerebral palsy, is a recording and educational singer/songwriter with a remarkable message about inclusion, overcoming adversity, friendship and the healing power of music. In her capacity as the lead singer and co-songwriter of The Merry Rockers, she is determined to live her life to the fullest and focus on her passion which is music and performing; and at the same time slash stereotypes and model how incredibly productive and powerful inclusion can be for the world. The Merry Rockers recently released their second album, Embrace It.

Emma Segal ’00 Doug Philip ’97 Wedding bells are in the air for Gaynor alumni. Emma Segal and Doug Philip are engaged! They met while students at Gaynor and then attended York Prep together. They reconnected after college and the rest is history. Segal is in her last semester of grad school at Mercy College receiving her M.S.Ed. in special education. She is currently working at Columbus Pre-School as a lead 2-3’s teacher. Philip works for the software company, Information Builders. Congratulations to this happy Gaynor alumni couple!



Kate Lodge ’15 Lodge recently came back to visit Gaynor. She is a junior at Eagle Hill in MA and is on their swim team — her best strokes are freestyle & breaststroke. She also volunteers at a local animal shelter.

Madeline Grebow ’07 After graduating from Lynn University in 2016 with a degree in Elementary Education, Grebow taught for a year as a 3's teacher at the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens. This year, she is teaching at Park Avenue Synagogue


in their Early Childhood Center in a

We always want to hear

2's class. Grebow is also studying at

from Gaynor alumni! To schedule a visit or update us on your news and life updates, reach out to

Bank Street College of Education for a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood General and Special Education.

Elise Mordos ’04 Elise Mordos graduated from Stephen Gaynor School in 2004. She later graduated from Barnard College '13 magna cum laude with a BA in Economics and earned a Master of Finance degree from MIT Sloan School of Management in 2015. Today she works in private wealth management as an investment strategies analyst at a multifamily office in Manhattan. In her free time, she is an avid runner having finished numerous marathons and






ultramarathon. The photo is from a hike in Kauai, Hawaii.


John Diaz ’13 Diaz has been a camp counselor for two years at Camp Sealth sleep away camp in Washington State, working with children with special needs. Last year, he was a counselor at Asphalt Green. Diaz has recently been working as an assistant football coach for the Vashon Middle School on Vashon Island, WA and plans to start a chorus at the school. SUMMER 2018



“This is my fifth production at SGS and every year the students rise to the occasion of performing in front of an audience. The cast of The Lion King Jr. was exceptional not just because of their talent level and dedication to the show, but also because of their ability to come together as an ensemble and support each other every

After months of rehearsals, students were ready for their starring

step of the way. We were also fortunate

turns in The Lion King Jr. On Thursday, May 10, and Friday, May

to have a wonderful group of students on

11, the cast put on two performances in the Gaynor Gymnasium.

the crew who embodied the same spirit of

The play was co-directed by Meredith Akins, Abby Shuppy, and

enthusiasm for their ensemble members.”

Brendan Stackhouse along with co-director and stage manager

­—Abby Shuppy

Andrea Patti, and stage manager Zoe Carril. Blue Cluster student Frances Jarvela acted as dance captain. Based on the Broadway show, The Lion King Jr. tells the story of a

“The students knocked it out of the park this year! I am so proud of the hard work that everyone involved in The Lion King Jr. put forward!”

young lion named Simba (played by Jake Sklar and Max Silverman) and the kingdom he is to inherit from his father, Mufasa (played by Avery Meer). Not everything goes easily however, due to scheming by Mufasa's brother Scar (played by Hayden Gere) who seeks to usurp him. Students sang classics from The Lion King, including "The

—Brendan Stackhouse

Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "I Just Can't Wait to be King." While the drama department has not yet chosen next year’s play,

"I am amazed at how students didn’t settle for their original thoughts of ‘I can’t do that.’ During the rehearsal process, they learned that it was ok to face their fears and aim for the possible that we had already envisioned." —Meredith Akins

"I am so proud of the talented cast and crew of The Lion King Jr. for putting in the hard work to bring this amazing show to life. I am lucky to watch students take risks, overcome challenges, and grow into confident young performers who shine on stage. These tremendous accomplishments are exactly why the Arts are so vital to the success of our students." —Andrea Patti


they do have one thing in mind — they hope it will be the inaugural performance in Gaynor’s new Performing Arts Center, slated to open in the fall of 2018.


CAST LIST Rafiki - Olivia Beal Banzai - Madeline Bender Shenzi - Darmia Elliott Nala - Aly Ferdinand Zazu - Andrew Ferrante Scar - Hayden Gere Pumbaa – Max Haller Sarabi – Stella Hirsch Timon – Ava Kimmel Ed – Kai Marksohn Mufasa – Avery Meer Serafina – Izzy Pines Young Nala – Morgan Reichberg Young Simba – Max Silverman Simba – Jake Sklar Ensemble - Ava Cantarella, Coco Crangi-Zerkle, Kiera Davy, Grace deMenocal, Aaron Kuper, Frankie Lane, Phoebe Langan, Sam Lung Crew - Oliver Chessler, Matthew Fisher, Elena Giddins, Ella Gometz, Oscar Killmer, Jason Maggio, Isaac Miliband, Alec Schwartz, Ronan Sennott SUMMER 2018 33


Clare’s Corner

By Clare Cosentino, Ph.D., Director of Psychological Services


How does a learning difference (LD) affect siblings?

What are the challenges?



The presence of an LD in families affects the social and emotional development of siblings.


Special and loving relationships are often found but

attention. »»

at the same time, many children have complex and intense feelings about themselves, their siblings, and their families in general. »»

Birth order, attitude of parents, and family dynamics

LD children often require more parental time and A sibling may become resentful when his/her needs and bids for attention are overshadowed.


Parents often expect more of a sibling without LD.


Parents may give them more responsibilities — even caretaking ones.

are factors.

How to Handle Sibling Resentment? What are the upsides of growing up with a sibling with an LD? »»

Patience, kindness and supportiveness.


Acceptance of differences.


Compassion and helpfulness.


Empathy for and insight into others.


Dependability and/or loyalty that may come from standing up for their sibling who has an LD.



It is easy to fall into the trap of expecting less and doing more for kids with LD and ADHD.


Siblings notice these differences and might resent them.


Each child in the family doesn’t have to be treated the same but it’s important for all the kids to feel that their needs count.


Spread the support around — if you are trying to reinforce one child’s behavior, look for something

CLARE’S CORNER very soon afterwards to acknowledge about the other child. »»

Give siblings the same level of positive reinforcement, but for different behaviors.


The importance of individual time »»

When kids get regular time and attention from parents, they feel valued in their own right.


Know what your child is thinking and dreaming about and help them manage their feelings and meet their individual goals.

Thicker Than Water: Essays of Adult Siblings of People with Disabilities by Don Meyer


Kids with non-LD can easily feel lost in the shuffle.


Your actions speak louder than your words.

How can I best praise each child? »»

Praise with a ‘Growth Mindset’ (Carol Dweck). Growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can grow through effort.








Special Siblings: Growing Up with Someone with a Disability by Mary McHugh

strengths and teach them to mobilize them to solve problems. »»

Celebrate character strengths including kindness, generosity, empathy, perseverance, and grit.


Find inspiration in the success of others who have overcome obstacles and challenges.


Being the Other One by Kate Strohm

Praise cooperation between the siblings.

Building strong sibling relationships »»

Steer them towards games and projects that play to their strengths.

The Forgotten Child: “If She


Have your children team up for chores.

is Special What About Me”


Plan family vacations together and involve them in

by Anne Ford & John-


Richard Thompson


Try to find a passion they both share and nurture their mutual interests.


Try not to referee fights. Instead, listen to both sides and teach problem solving.


Create family traditions such as pizza and/or movie nights.


Learning Disabilites: A Family Affair by Betty Osman, Ph.D.

Allow for time away from each other.

SUMMER 2018 35



n Thursday, June 14, the graduating class of

and find the other people who may have challenges.

2018 gathered on the North Building play deck

And you’re not only going to be advocating for them,

to pose for a final group picture before putting

and yourselves, but all of the people out there.” Then she

on their caps and gowns. Soon, they would head down

turned to the entire audience and said, “Philip told me, I

to the gymnasium where approximately 300 people had

wish there was a Gaynor for every child out there," which

gathered, ready to celebrate the success of the graduates.

was met with thunderous applause.

Dr. Scott Gaynor opened the ceremony, welcoming

Alumni speaker Elise Mordos ’04, an investment

everyone before passing the remarks to the co-president of Gaynor’s Board of Trustees, Grant Duers. Duers reminded the crowd of




and vision, so consistently carried out

strategies analyst at Bessemer Trust, stated that in just a few short years at Gaynor she found confidence and discovered her true passion, mathematics. In her speech, she






with each graduating class. “To be

mental frameworks that have helped

effective, we must reach every Gaynor

her over the years since leaving

student where they are, nurture them

Gaynor: perspective, persistence, and

and prepare them for what comes next

positivity. “The tools that you’ve learned

in their lives,” Duers said.

here and the confidence you’ve gained

Siegel’s mission was embodied throughout the ceremony in the student, parent, and alumni




Levin, a class representative, reflected on the changes he has gone through in his time at Gaynor. “I feel so prepared to leave because everyone in this school has truly done their best to prepare me for this moment. I believe I speak for all of my fellow graduates when I say thank you to the Stephen Gaynor School, and all the teachers and administrators who have helped us unlock our true potential.” Mary Ross, parent of Philip Ross ’18 and Vicky Ross in the Silver Cluster, and managing director of JPMorgan Chase, addressed students directly. “The gift you have now is you are a team, and you can go forward in life

will propel you forward through to the new academic institutions that await you this fall and beyond,” she said. Dr. Gaynor closed the speeches by reminding students, “Today and going forward we ask you not only to study hard and get good grades, but to be an advocate as well. An advocate for yourself, your peers and the world. As a self-advocate you learned about your own strengths and challenges and how to speak up for yourself when you need accommodations in school. As an advocate for your peers you participated in events such as the GSA day of silence. And as a global citizen you get to choose which causes matter most to you. I am not here today to tell you what to fight for, but that you must fight for something you believe in.”


2018 Award Winners President’s Education Awards William van der Rhoer, Elizabeth Sweetnam, Mark Tillinghast Jr. Comptroller Community Service Award Matthew “Mateo” Levin Helen Rosenthal City Council Award Chloe Lipton, Remy Goued Gordon Gaynor Award Zachary Grodman, Stella Hirsch

Check out some of the schoolS Gators will be attending in the fall! Birch Wathen Lenox • Brooklyn Friends • The Churchill School • Dwight School  Eagle Hill School • Forman School • The Hewitt School • Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School LREI • Magen David Yeshivah High School • Mary McDowell Friends • NYC Lab School SUMMER 2018 37 The Pennington School • York Preparatory School




Blue Cluster student Justin Kern was selected to join the U-15 Boys U.S. National Soccer team.

Olivia Beal (Gold Cluster) and her sister Lily Beal (Orange Cluster) got to perform in front of their Gold and Silver Cluster-mates at the New York Baha’i Center on March 15. The play, Henry Box Brown, was put on by the Children’s Theater Company and tells the story of a slave who shipped himself in a box to freedom after his family was sold to a different master. Olivia and Lily travel with the Children’s Theater Company to perform this piece about civil rights. Red Cluster student Mark Silverman swam in the Metropolitan 8-and-under championships and came in third place out of 68 7-year-olds for the 25yard freestyle. He had a significant time drop in his other events and won one medal and three ribbons overall.

Silver Cluster student Chandra Kyrwood came in third place all-around at the Crossroads Horse Show, held at The Crossroads Equestrian Center in Brewster, New York. She rode two different horses, Sailor and Albert, and also placed second in pleasure class, third in flat work and jumping, and fourth in equitation class.

Jake Sklar (Green Cluster) performed at Carnegie Hall with the Intermezzo Group of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City at their Winter Wonder Concert on Thursday, December 14.

Matilda Severs (Silver Cluster) a




was that





in NYC Elite’s end of year tournament. She is currently working at mastering and




has spent a lot of time

Joey Haller, center, (Silver Cluster)

improving over the last

became a basketball champion as part

several months.

of the winning team for the Rockets.


SUMMER 2018 39

Answers: [1] This concrete version of our mascot is immortalized in a support beam in the North Building Lobby near Dr. Gaynor’s office. [2] This corner shot is of the Field House in the South Building, which provides students with a year-round recreational space.  [3] Horseshoes are embedded in the steps of the Early Childhood Center stairs, a historical nod to the Claremont Stables that previously occupied the building before Gaynor purchased it in 2011.  [4] Students love studying in the window on the stairs between the 6th and 7th floors of the North Building.  [5] The window of the library, also visible from 90th Street, not only inspired Gaynor’s logo but also has a hidden meaning. The differently sized panes are symbolic of the learning differences of our students and our passion to encourage individual perspectives.






and see if you can guess where these features are! (See answers at bottom of page.) that make our buildings unique. Check out these snapshots of Gaynor’s architecture In the hustle and bustle activity of life at Gaynor, it is easy to miss the tiny details



OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY... What’s in a Name? By Occupational Therapists Anna Friedman and Ariela Weisenberg

Most people don’t understand what the word “occupation” has to do with children, who clearly are not in the market for a job. Occupational, within the profession’s title, refers to the occupations or roles that individuals carry out throughout their daily lives. As occupational therapists at Gaynor, we help students become more independent and skilled in their main roles as students and to engage in the world in a meaningful way. We look at the whole child with the overarching goal of improving the quality of functioning. When working with students, we focus on a wide variety of areas that relate to academic performance as well as social/emotional functioning. These include fine and gross motor skills, activities of daily living, handwriting, perceptual skills, sensory processing, and executive functioning skills. There is ongoing teacher collaboration and consultation, to assist with various issues that come up with students in the classroom. A large part of our role with teachers and other specialists is to share and provide tools and strategies to help students maintain a regulated state throughout the school day. This past year, we introduced a Mindfulness program, which includes breathing, movement and meditation. These techniques are being used by teachers as breaks during class and during transitions between periods. In the Early Childhood classes, the therapists are an integral part of the classroom, helping promote skill development within this natural setting. In addition, they pull students individually and in small groups to work in the OT gym, on specific areas. In the Elementary and Middle Schools, individual or dyad sessions are provided via pull out in the OT room or push in to the classroom/school setting. If you took a peek into the OT room, you might likely find a child upside down on a swing or lying on a big therapy ball, working on his/her core muscle strength or sitting at a table practicing letters in shaving cream. Push-in services are an ideal way for us to analyze the relationship between the child, tasks they are presented with and the overall environment. For example, during reading or social studies, we are able to look at a child’s posture, sitting endurance, handwriting, selfregulation, organization, etc. in this functional setting. We feel fortunate that kids enjoy coming to the OT room. It is a safe place where skill building occurs, relationships are formed, and confidence and independence are nurtured. 40 GAYNOR GAZETTE



This spring, the students in Rochelle Hoffman and Mirella Nappi’s Middle School Gold Cluster class expressed their emotions pretty clearly when they were faced with the project of the day: dissecting a cow’s eyeball! Dr. Tod Haller, an opthamologist and Gaynor parent, joined the class to answer questions and share some eyecatching stories. Once they took their seats with their assigned lab partner, the students put on gloves and received tools. Science Teacher Molli Grady explained the rules and procedures. As you can see from the photos above, the students had a mix of emotions and reactions when Ms. Grady opened the bucket of eyeballs. But once they began the dissection, those mixed reactions turned quickly to curiosity. They asked insightful questions and explored parts of the eyeball that they had learned about in class. According to Ms. Hoffman, “It was such a great opportunity for the students to connect their prior knowledge with a real-life experience and I know they will always remember today’s science class.” SUMMER 2018







ANNUAL FUND “My son’s smile, his robust self-confidence, and his enthusiasm for taking on challenges is indisputable ‘proof’ that Stephen Gaynor School holds a key that opens closed doors.” — Gaynor Parent and Annual Fund Ambassador Thank you to the hundreds of donors who have already supported the Annual Fund this year! There is still time to give. Please make your donation today at

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