West Side Spirit November 24, 2011

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Notes from the Neighborhood Compiled by Sam Blum, Chris Bragg, Megan Finnegan Bungeroth & Aspen Matis

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Council Member Arrested In a deliberate show of solidarity with community and union leaders during last week’s Occupy Wall Street “Day of Action,” uptown City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito was among those arrested in a group of fellow civillydisobeying protesters. “I’ve been supportive of it since the inception,” Mark-Viverito said of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “It’s resonating with people because of the injustices, and the inequality is so great.” She said being arrested was part


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Pioneering Run Our sister publications City Hall and The Capitol reported in their morning email blast this week that the Upper West Side’s own Mel Wymore, local activist and former chair of Community Board 7, has declared his intention to run for city council. Wymore will be vying for term-limited Gale Brewer’s council seat, and if elected would become the first transgendered person to hold an elected position in city government. Wymore, who used to identify as a woman, said he would not shy away from talking to voters about his unique life journey. “I have always been open and honest about who I am, and I believe that everyone should feel free to be their authentic self,” he said. Wymore hopes to highlight his ability to bring people together, develop clear vision and build lasting solutions for the community. Helen Rosenthal, who preceded Wymore as Community Board 7 chair, has also registered a campaign committee for what is expected to be a crowded race.

Win One for Unemployment Talk about a bad Sunday hangover. Columbia head coach Norries Wilson was relieved of his duties Sunday morning, despite leading his team to their first win of the season the day before. Wilson was in his sixth year as head coach, and had seen a steady decline in results since posting a 5-5 record in 2006, his first year

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andrew schwartz

A reader disconcerted by a billboard on Riverside Drive advertising Wodka brand vodka alerted us to what some say is an anti-Semitic advertising strategy. The billboard features two dogs, one in a Santa hat and one in a yarmulke, and reads “Christmas Quality, Hanukkah Pricing.” Writing to the folks at Wodka, reader Molly Vozick-Levinson called the campaign “bigoted,” and wrote, “Your billboard implies that Jewish people are cheap” and “that Chanukah is lesser than Christmas.” In response, Brian Gordon of Wodka defended his company’s strategy as a way to indicate that Wodka packs a lot of value for the dollar— comparing it to Hanukah getting eight days to Christmas’ one. “Our campaign celebrates the simplicity of Hanukkah and Wodka and promotes the fact that, like Wodka, ‘fancy packaging’ doesn’t equate to better quality,” Gordon wrote. He also claims that the choice of dogs, which Vozick-Levinson said exacerbated physical stereotypes of Christians and Jews, was simply due to which pooches they had access to on a meager budget. The Anti-Defamation League has jumped in to criticize Wodka, and several media outlets have pointed out the billboard. Just before press time, the AP reported that Wodka will take down the billboard on Riverside Drive.

of the participation. She and a group of community and labor leaders were taken to Queens Central Booking for processing and released after about five hours with tickets for desk appearances. But Mark-Viverito hopes that the real action is going to be back in her Upper West Side and East Harlem neighborhoods. “I want to bring this conversation locally into my neighborhood,” she said. “People have been very supportive, not only of me and the positions I’ve taken, but I know people have come down [to support Occupy Wall Street]. I would hope to take this opportunity to make sure to get people politically engaged.”

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at the helm. Wilson’s departure culminates a week in which the football team made national news when their marching band was banned from their Saturday game after making fun of their team’s 62-41 loss to rival Cornell in Ithaca last week. The band was eventually allowed to come back after making a public apology. The team followed that up with a game for the ages, defeating second-place Brown after trailing 21-7 with less than 10 minutes to play and then staging a fierce comeback, winning in double overtime by stopping the Brown The American Museum of Natural History kicked off its holioffense at the day season with the unveiling and lighting of its annual Ori1-yard line. gami Holiday Tree. The theme of this year’s 13-foot tree is The firing, The Museum’s Biggest and Best with ornaments inspired by however, did the current exhibition “The World’s Largest Dinosaurs” and seem inevitable. the blue whale displayed in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. He was the first African-American head coach in Ivy League history, but leaves behind a miser- Side Spirit, seeking witnesses to a Nov. 18 able record of 17-43 overall, and 10-32 in assault in which she was the victim. The elderly woman said that she was attacked Ivy League games. by three women at approximately 4 p.m., near the post office at Columbus Avenue Crime Check and West 95th Street, and was left lying Crime is down 14.6 percent in the 20th injured on the sidewalk. She’s hoping Precinct compared to last year, but Upper anyone who witnessed the incident calls West Siders should still be mindful of police. their belongings and vigilant against identity theft. Most of the few crimes reported Elders to Take a Stand last week were for lost or stolen credit cards, and the police responded to a few (and Kick) No elder should be defenseless. And calls for broken windows. While the parts of the neighborhood Shihan Wayne Norlander, a 9th degree covered by the 20th Precinct had a rela- black belt and the founder and chief tively quiet week crime-wise, neighbors instructor of USA Goshin-Ryu Karate, to the north in the 24th Precinct haven’t wants to make sure no one is. At 6 p.m. fared as well recently. Last week, three Dec. 1, elder Manhattanites are invitteenagers were shot outside a building on ed to a free self-defense class in room West 90th Street near Amsterdam Avenue 507 of the Elliott Library (2 W. 64th and taken to the hospital with non-life- St.). Light refreshments will be served. threatening injuries, according to police. For additional information, please call A local senior citizen also contacted West 212-721-4407. N EWS YO U LI V E B Y


Hundreds Swarm Neighborhood Town Hall By Megan Finnegan Bungeroth West Siders came out in full force and overcrowded the auditorium of the Jewish Community Center for a chance to speak their minds to elected officials at Monday night’s Town Hall meeting. City Council Member Gale Brewer organized the event and kept the questions flowing at a quick clip, firmly nudging people to get straight to their questions in order to hear from the more than 300 people who packed the room. (Dozens more residents were left out after the room reached its fire code capacity.) The event covered a wide range of issues, making it clear that local residents are more than willing to hold their elected officials accountable. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn made an appearance to tout the impending changes to the subsidized housing application process that will computerize and centralize the system, making it much quicker and easier for New Yorkers to apply for affordable housing programs. She applauded Brewer and those in attendance for caring about their community but didn’t stick around to take questions. Other elected officials, including Assembly Members Richard Gottfried,

Danny O’Donnell and Linda Rosenthal, State Senator Tom Duane, and Congressman Jerry Nadler gave updates and then returned the floor to the public for questions. Representatives from many city agencies, including the Departments of Buildings, Education, Transportation, Housing, Sanitation and New York City Housing Authority, were present and answered questions as well. One of the first heated issues raised was about a well-known book vendor who sets up tables on Broadway near West 72nd Street. Many in the neighborhood have complained that his tables create a sidewalk nuisance, and one resident questioned new 20th Precinct commanding officer Deputy Inspector McGinn directly, wanting to know why the police could clear Zuccotti Park in a day but couldn’t get rid of the bookseller. McGinn conceded that such operations take more time than some might think, especially considering that legal and First Amendment issues come into play. “The legal team is very busy down at Zuccotti Park,” McGinn said. “To have them come up here for the books right


now is a little tough.” Others more sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street movement asked the elected officials present to declare their opposition to unnecessary police violence against protesters. Borough President Scott Stringer decried the arrests of journalists and the NYPD’s attempts to keep press away from operations downtown. “We must be concerned when we arrest press people and put them in jail for covering events,” he said. Stringer also used his time at the podium to point out the need for future planning for the city’s growing and aging populations, as well as the need to keep the Upper West Side intact as a community and preserve the historic districts. Brewer also answered a question about keeping “mom and pop” stores in the neighborhood, explaining her proposal to restrict street-front width to keep banks and chain stores like CVS off the main avenues. Several vocal parents of children at Upper West Success Academy criticized Brewer for not supporting or visiting their new charter school; they said they attended the Town Hall to make the com-

munity aware of the good things their school is doing for the community’s children and will hold Brewer to her promise to tour the school. Several residents had questions about NYCHA, wanting to know why the Housing Authority is forcing some residents to move to different homes, how they can get more maintenance workers, and why rents continue to rise for some seniors who can barely afford their subsidized rents on fixed incomes. NYCHA chairman John Rea addressed the questions, promising to follow up with many but also referring several times to the city, state and federal budget cuts with which the agency is grappling, calling them “fairly draconian.” Other issues raised ran the gamut from concern over migratory birds flying into tall buildings, rat control, slow and overcrowded buses, questions over SCRIE senior housing benefits, bike lanes, banning horse carriages, switching to cleaner heating oil, high healthcare costs and enforcement of traffic laws. Many attendees stayed for the reception after the event, continuing to press the officials for solutions to their problems.

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Food Pantry Cooks up Chef Class West Side Campaign Against Hunger helps hungry feed themselves By Joanna Fantozzi Raquel Rivera-Pablo’s 12-week cooking class on the Upper West Side bustled with activity during one of the final sessions. From the assembly line of workers rolling chopped meat and parsley into meatballs to a freckled woman making a fruit salad display to the head chef shouting out “Salt and pepper, but very light on the pepper,” the place bustled with energy. The students in Rivera-Pablo’s class do not attend culinary school but rather are customers of The West Side Campaign Against Hunger, an emergency food pantry. They are looking for a new chance at life through cooking. The free chef training program is offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the basement of The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew on West 86th Street. “People come here from different backgrounds,” said Rivera-Pablo, 31, who attended The Institute of Culinary Education and has worked at the coalition since July. “They each have their own story.”

This year’s class graduated in October. For the first time, the class requested the chance to cook for their friends and family attending the graduation ceremony. Students prepared dishes such as stuffed peppers, chicken peanut soup, lasagna and garlic mashed potatoes for the ceremony. Ondina Acosta, 55, attended the class for three months. Since moving to New York from the Dominican Republic, she has had to deal with unemployment and the difficulty of living in a tiny studio apartment in the Bronx with her sister and elderly mother. Acosta enjoyed cooking in the Dominican Republic and was known for her Dominican recipes, including classic beans and rice and sancocho, a traditional soup made from various meats. Now, she said, she has learned to cook more varieties of food, including a secret vinaigrette recipe, that she wouldn’t divulge. “I love the class and I love the kitchen,” said Acosta. “My friends now ask me to cook for them.”

During one of the last sessions, Daniel Jiminez, 32, explained through a translator that he had been coming here for two months. Jiménez has also hit hard times. He left his family and career as an accountant in Puerto Rico behind last year Food pantry cooking class. when he came to the United States to find work. Now day care, while Jiminez hopes to attend he lives in a Christian mission in Lower culinary school and become a chef. Manhattan and is unemployed. Graduate Alexandra Gomez is now The cooking program at The West Side one of Rivera-Pablo’s chef assistants for Campaign Against Hunger was created to the current class and is working on gethelp people like Acosta and Jiménez get ting her general equivalency diploma. back on their feet and make a career for “I have planned out what I want to do themselves by learning healthy cooking, now and that does include cooking and said campaign director Doreen Wohl. getting some type of educational diploma Acosta hopes to one day own her own in my hands,” she said.



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Upper West Sider Guides Red Fern By Penny Gray The Red Fern Theatre Company strives to provoke social awareness and change through theatrical productions and outreach. Producing plays that address both local and global social issues, the theater also partners with philanthropic organizations to educate and activate audiences. Now in its sixth season, the company has taken up residence at the LABA Theatre at the 14th Street Y. Upper West Sider Melanie Moyer Williams, founder and executive artistic director of Red Fern, speaks about the life of a socially conscious theater.

body has such a shared goal in the theater. We all want to do good shows of good quality—if it’s not good, why do it?

say, “You hit the nail on the head,” because they were there and they lived through it.

What was the first show you directed with Red What’s your Fern? most memoPatient Amy, by Lee rable example Wesley. It’s about a girl who of changing the contracted AIDS from her lives of the peodentist, really the first nonple involved gay face of AIDS. It’s based in the issue on a true story, and the girl’s Melanie Moyer Williams. you’re capturparents commissioned the ing onstage? play—but the playwright would only do We did a show about sexual abuse in the it if he could tell the dentist’s side of the military. It was a verbatim piece in which story as well. all of the performances on stage were lifted directly from transcripts. We had one What do you love most about your job? abused woman who insisted on remaining I love being able to do this work, to work anonymous if her story was to appear in with artists of such caliber and quality. the play. She wrote to say she was coming And to be able to create work in the New to the show, but of course I didn’t know York indie theater scene. It’s pretty spe- who she was because she had insisted cial. But on the flip side, I also love being that anonymity was the only way! able to tell true stories, to have audience After the show, she introduced herself members who come up afterward and to me but not to anyone else. And she kept

What’s the origin of Red Fern Theatre? It all began five and a half years ago. I studied acting at Duke University and moved up to New York to pursue all of that. I was doing lots of television and film, earning my living as an actor, but something was missing. There wasn’t much meaning in the work I was doing. I had always had a passion for directing, and I wanted to do something of meaning. So I went back to theater direction; every-

coming back and bringing other people to watch her story on stage. Finally, by the end of the run, she was participating in talkback sessions on stage and was no longer anonymous to anyone. It was so moving to see that sort of progression in one person. That’s why we do theater— not to move everybody, just to move one person at a time. What’s next on the horizon for Red Fern? For the Red Fern Theatre itself, we’ve found a wonderful home at the 14th Street Y on the East Side. It’s super supportive and a home within the community, so we’ll be leading more workshops with students in the area and pairing up with the Y to offer a summer theater camp for kids. It’s a wonderful time of really rooting in the community. As for our next production, we’ve got six short plays that explore issues of equality in the 2012 election—it’ll be everything from immigration to gay marriage to a musical debate. And as always, we’re not preaching any particular perspective. We’re just putting the questions out there.

Romeo Alaeff Examines the Human Animal


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andrew schwartz

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

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

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

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

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Middle Schools

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

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

Outstanding Middle School

A student experiments with catapults. We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m

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

photos by andrew schwartz

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

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

school focuses on critical thinking, effective communication and public speaking. But Perry said that even though there is a science basis, language is one of the school’s main engines. “They feel like they really learn to love writing here at the school,” she said. “I think we have a really rich curriculum around writing.” The Salk School’s focus on scientific principles is meant to prepare students for advanced coursework in high school and college. Perry said 65 percent of the school’s continued on page 16

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Middle Schools

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

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

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

Lab work at Mark Twain.


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photos by daniel s. burnstein

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

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

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

Middle Schools

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

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

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

daniel s. burnstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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High Schools

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

photos by andrew schwartz

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

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

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


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

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

Principal Dimitri Saliani of Eleanor Roosevelt High School. whose daughter is now a senior. “Every freshman and sophomore now has to take a grammar course in addition to the English course.” The school relies heavily on parent and student input. A monthly newsletter started by Haiken last year, as well as the principal’s weekly letter to the school community, keeps parents informed and continued on page 16 N EWS YO U LI V E B Y

High Schools

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

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

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

photos by andrew schwartz

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

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

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

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High Schools

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

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

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

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

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

Taking Care of Students by Taking Care of Teachers


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

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

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


daniel s. burnstein

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

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

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November , 2011



High Schools

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

Salk School

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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November , 2011



High Schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Until November 18th we are accepting nominations to recognize a selection of woman who are achieving greatly in their communities, at their workplace, for the public and everything in between.There are five categories for which you can nominate a woman of public and civic mind who has achieved above and beyond: Organized Labor, Government and Public Service, Journalism/Media, Business/Public-Private Partnerships, Community Organizing and Non-Profits.

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City Hall will be hosting a panel of dynamic woman from in and around public and private industry to impart their unique knowledge on best practices, lessons-learned and how to excel. The discussion will be focusing on how woman in the public and civic space can achieve successes above and beyond the rest and other important lessons on leadership. Moderated By: CHLOE DREW Executive Director of Council of Urban Professionals CATHERINE ABATE CEO Community Healthcare of New York, Former New York State Senator JENNIFER CUNNINGHAM Managing Director SKD Knickerbocker

CECILIA CLARK Executive Director of Sadie Nash Partnership ELSIE MCCABE THOMPSON Executive Director of The Museum of African Art CARMEN WONG-ULRICH Former Host of CNBC ‘On the Money’ and award winning journalist

FOR MORE INFORMATION or sponsorship opportunities call 646.442.1623 or email Jasmine Freeman at jfreeman@manhattanmedia.com. www.cityhallnews.com

November , 2011



Alternative Healthy Manhattan a monthly advertising supplement

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


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


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

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


Alternative Healthy Manhattan


How to Become a Life Coach L Columbia Coaching Certification Program 525 W. 120th St., 212-678-8240, $900–$8,700 The Teachers College at Columbia University and Columbia Business Schools together offer the Columbia Coaching Certification program. Students focus on learning guiding principles such as ethics, core competencies that help establish successful relationships with clients and the overall coaching process. Columbia offers five-day intensives for individuals looking to establish life coaching as a profession (external coaching) and for those looking to incorporate it into their existing jobs (internal coaching). Students have the option to continue on to coaching practicum, a semester of in-field coaching work, and a five-day wrap up advanced coach intensive for

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

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

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

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ife coaching is a rapidly expanding field, and although there is no legally required course work to declare yourself a life coach, there is a recognized certification organization: the International Coaching Federation. Here are a few Manhattan-based programs to get certification:

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Dewing Things Better

Thanksgiving for Family Values


Tom Allon tallon@manhattanmedia.com CFO/COO Joanne Harras jharras@manhattanmedia.com group PUBLISHER Alex Schweitzer aschweitzer@manhattanmedia.com Director of Interactive Marketing and Digital Strategy Jay Gissen jgissen@manhattanmedia.com


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


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

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

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

An Open Letter to OWS



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

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Controller Shawn Scott CREDIT MANAGER Kathy Pollyea billing coordinator Colleen Conklin Circulation Joe Bendik circ@manhattanmedia.com

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

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

October 20, 2011

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

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

Mostly Fun & Games for Seniors

andrew schwartz

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

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