01 Jul

A Message from Dr. Mirangela Buggs, D-E Director of Diversity & Equity Engagement: Family Resources to Explore this Summer

Dear D-E Families,

I write first to thank you for your patience, flexibility, and support of the school’s work to continue school life amid the challenges of a global pandemic. Thank you for lending us your children. It is a pleasure to work with them.

Many of you may know that I began my work as the Director of Equity and Diversity Engagement in the summer of 2017. It is common for schools like D-E to have a school wide leader to work full-time on many endeavors that deepen the school’s mission to embrace diversity. I am part of a network of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) leaders working in school communities around the country. Our work is similar, in that we are charged with moving forward the DEI conversation and the day-to-day work of education around those topics. We all work to support students, to structure professional learning for faculty and staff, to assist with hiring more diverse teachers and staff, and to generally support our schools to commit to practices that create inclusive and equitable school cultures, where students and adults of many backgrounds and identities can feel they belong and can thrive. And, each school has their own culture in which DEI leaders participate. The culture at D-E is uniquely diverse; we are one of the most diverse schools in the New York City metro area. With that diversity comes so much excitement and growth, as well as particular challenges.

Our current historical moment has presented our entire nation with both a fraught and promising challenge. We are living in a global pandemic. Now, a global movement against anti-black racism has emerged in protest. For the past several years our country has seen the rise of racism targeting multiple communities of color, along with the rise of violent and deadly anti-Semitism. Our world, our society is at a crossroads. Will we embark upon a national healing process to transform injustice and inequity? Will our society affirm the lives and dignities of all? What work will schools do to aid in transformation? What work can we do at D-E?

During our days away from school during the pandemic, adults from all areas of the school and several Upper School students met weekly for “Equity Checks” – presentations and conversations around a range of DEI topics pertinent to our social and school-based contexts. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, we supported Black students and students of all racial identities to meet, to express their feelings and views, and to lead their peers in dialogues about being upstanders for justice. These recent gatherings flowed from the pain and the need to create community around what has been happening this spring, and they are connected to the range of equity and diversity conversations we have as adults and that we support among students at D-E.  You have chosen a school for your children that has a clear mission that guides us all to “. . . embrace diversity in order to develop the skills, values, and courage to meet the challenges of a changing world and make it better.” How will we, as a community, live this mission more fully in 2020 and beyond?

Dr. De Jarnett has uplifted us all with his thoughtful reflections on the work we need to do going forward. Also, D-E has publicized a Community Letter that commits us to re-double the efforts in our DEI work. Over 1600 members of our community– parents/families, alumni, faculty-staff – have pledged to this work of deepening/redoubling our understanding and efforts to create a more safe, inclusive, and equitable world. More signatories from these constituents come forward each day. As I was preparing this letter to send to you, Black alumni and current students have stated a list of recommendations that are aligned with the deepening/redoubling that school leaders are involved in and planning for D-E right now. We are thankful to our alumni and students for their clarity and for their insistence that we at D-E do the work necessary for true belonging and equity.

For those of us who educate your children, we are called to commit to the life-long learning our mission inspires us to foster in our students. We intend to build upon the work of creating the diverse community that D-E has become, and to build upon the DEI-focused professional development work we’ve been doing at D-E. Before the final end of the year for employees, adults who work at D-E were given summer professional development work to prepare them for next year’s school wide conversations around equity, unlearning bias, and being an inclusive school. We are designing the work for teachers and others to engage in professional learning about race and racism, why and how it exists today, and how we all, including our students of all ages, are impacted by a legacy of racial inequity. Addressing racism and how it lives on a spectrum and how it shapes the very fabric of our nation, and of our schools, is so important in all that we aspire to do in our embrace of diversity. This work is timely now, urgent. As a nation and as a school, we all must unlearn racism in all of its forms and wholly support all of our students in this endeavor. 

We also would like to involve parents in these conversations next year. Many families in our community already have these discussions at home. Many would like to learn more and to have more of these discussions in their families. There are many, many resources that help people think and talk about race, racial identities and racism from many perspectives – history, psychology/social emotional lenses, sociology, political science, cultural studies, etc. Please take a look at the following curated list of resources that we hope are helpful and practical for D-E families wanting to explore alongside educators this summer. Some of these pieces will give insight about having conversations with your children about happenings in the world:

Resources to help you talk with your children (and adults):

Resources for adults and older students wanting to have a sense of various conversations about race, history, the present and schools:

For those interested in the conversation about what it means to be white/European-American:

Ultimately, the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion exists to create more connected, more kind communities where people from many backgrounds are able to create authentic bonds and to better bridge to each other’s worlds. Creating anti-racist cultures is core to DEI work in schools. While talking about race and racism can be uncomfortable, what awaits us on the other side of the process is a more knowledgeable, understanding and supportive community.

With best wishes for a restorative and healthy summer,

Dr. Mirangela Buggs

01 Jul

Message from Joe Algrant, US Principal

Dear Upper School Families,

Spring has turned to summer, and I have been looking back to see where the time has gone from March 12 to now. That was the last day we were in school together, and the time that has flown by so quickly seems simultaneously like so long ago. Our world has changed pretty dramatically in these months, and the summer does bring some time to reflect on that, much as we are already deeply into planning what the fall might look like for our school, and for society in general. 

We’ll have more to say about the fall in a few days, and you’ll hear from Dr. De Jarnett with our current thinking, but I wanted to take a moment to look back over the last few months and comment on how adept our students were at struggling through the simultaneous difficulties with which they were presented. The pandemic was certainly enough for them to process, and without a longer term perspective on world issues it was hard for them to see how this moment in time compared to other crises that the world has endured, and pulled out of in some ways better off than before. We hope this is the case with COVID-19, but that does remain to be seen, and what happens in the next few weeks nationally with the data on the coronavirus’ transmission will determine a lot about how we are able to return in the fall.

Then you add the dramatic international reactions to the horrific racist murders of George Floyd and others, and your children had a very emotionally challenging ending to an already tough semester. We tried the best we could, considering that we were all at home, to provide some safe space to talk, and many of your children took the opportunity to come to meetings and participate in the different kinds of conversations that took place. Because of student interest, some of those groups are continuing into the summer, and that will help us be more prepared for the fall when school starts again, in whatever form that takes. Please read the letter from Dr. Mirangela Buggs, our Director of Equity and Diversity Inclusion (click here), that summarizes what we have been doing on the subject of race, what we are asking the faculty to do over the summer, and what we anticipate starting in the fall. Having seen the comments from the #blackatdwightenglewood Instagram site, we know how important this work is, more so than ever.

In terms of fall athletics, we remain in a holding pattern until we see what the regulations are from public health officials and the state, and we consider what makes the most sense for the School. This will not be an easy decision, and should we be able to offer our fall competitive athletic program, there will certainly be various restrictions on what is allowed, so that we do not violate any of the necessary health and safety rules that have allowed the case numbers in our area to decline. 

That vigilance will remain critical throughout next year, and as you will hear more about in several days, our life in school will necessarily be altered to accommodate our mutual health and safety. And while it may feel quite different, at least we hope to be somewhat physically together, if in smaller groups than usual, but being able to be on campus.

Many thanks again for your support of our work with your children. Your responses to the various surveys and questionnaires were critical in the decisions we made to schedule and then reschedule the school, and to help keep students engaged while understanding the surreal factors that were impeding on our regular learning. There will likely be more moments where we check in and ask your opinions as we prepare for September.

Best wishes for some relaxation and rest, and times with less stress.

Sincerely,

Joe Algrant,

US Principal

P.S. A quick note for all Junior (Class of 2021) Families: You should have received by now an Email  from the College Counseling Office (CCO) about Summer college admissions preparations (click here to view). I encourage you to also (if you missed it) watch the video of a recent CCO-hosted Zoom session, featuring Adam Ingersoll (Compass Education Group) on the topic of standardized testing and the impact of COVID-19. 

21 Feb

Looking ahead to 2020-2021: Academic Scheduling Begins

As we begin to plan for next year (yes it’s that time), we are altering our process from previous years just a little, aiming to make things a little more clear and efficient. There are many steps to the decisions that students will make, and we’ll start this week with asking current sophomores and juniors to indicate which honors and AP courses they want to be considered for. The department chairs have explained the options at a meeting at the end of last week, after which students have completed their requests. The department chairs and deans will take these requests and make the final determinations on placement. We have urged them to remember that indicating preference is not admission into the course. We will place students in courses xbased on what we believe is best for them.

After working with this information, we will move more deeply into the scheduling conversation in about two weeks, and we invite you to hear from the deans on Monday March 2, 2020, at 7:00 PM. We will send a reminder the week before the event but please mark the date. This is an important event to attend for parents in grades 9, 10, and 11.

As we get to the logistics of the process, we have come to realize over the past couple of years that fewer and fewer students actually use the printed copies we produce of the Course of Studies book, so we have decided to take the more environmentally sound route and work from the online version.

Parents/guardians will learn more about this at the meeting on March 2.

09 Nov

The Comments are Coming!

We have reached the end of the first quarter of the year, believe it or not. At the end of the first and third quarters, the teachers write comments to their students about their progress in their courses. Yesterday, Thursday, Nov. 8, students saw those comments, and reviewing them with their advisors. Today, Friday Nov. 9, we will release those comments to you. Instructions on how to access the comments are noted below. Before seeing them yourself, you might want to ask your student about them tonight, and hear their perspective after reading them and speaking with their advisors.

These comments do not include a grade on them, which we do so that students and families can focus on the comment itself and process the feedback without the distraction of the grade, which we have found does dominate if the two are released together. By separating them, we have had much greater success with student focusing and taking to heart the feedback from the teacher. The grades themselves will be available in the middle of next week for grades 9-11. Seniors (Class of 2019) will see their grades today, Friday, Nov. 9, because of the timing with early college applications.


Instructions to Access Comment Reports

By following the directions below you will find your way to both the grades and comments for all classes. These steps detail how to access your child’s report:

  • Go to the MyD-E area of the Dwight-Englewood School website by visiting www.d-e.org and clicking on MyD-E at the top-right of the page.
  • LogIn to MyD-E using your assigned password or the password you established for yourself. If you need help with your password, please call D-E Tech Support at 201-227-3177.
  • Click on your child’s name near the top of the page.
  • Click on Progress (if not already selected), then click on the current grade for your child immediately below that.
  • After selecting the grade, click on the Report Cards link in the Performance area.
  • You will see two links for the Fall Interim: Academic Report Card and Physical Education Report Card. When you click on either of those links, a pdf file that contains your child’s progress information will open in a new window.  This file can be saved to your computer or printed directly from the screen.  These reports will remain viewable while your child is enrolled in the School.


09 Nov

Message from Joseph Algrant, US Principal

Dear Upper School (US) Parents / Guardians,

So it seems that the fall is finally upon us, with its vivid foliage, shorter days, (generally) cooler weather, and… some reminders and updates of upcoming school programs about which you should be aware.

Conferences

Coming up on December 6 and 7 are family/teacher conferences, an opportunity for you to meet with each teacher of your student (except for those in the arts and health and wellness).  These conferences are held in the Modell’s Athletic Complex, and families are invited to sign up to come to school during one of four, 2.5-hour time blocks. You are able to spend up to 10 minutes with each teacher during that time, and you are can arrive at any point during that time block, but know that it will take at least one hour to see all teachers. You will not have a specific schedule for each teacher, but instead will find each teacher in the Sherman Gymnasium. We will guide you once you arrive so that you make the most of your time.

While it may sound confusing, I promise that when you arrive and see the system, it will all become clear and work efficiently. Most importantly, these are valuable opportunities to talk about how your student is doing. The faculty find these meetings productive as well, and they look forward to seeing you.

The sign-up process will begin next Wednesday, November 14, and I will send a more detailed letter at that time with the directions to our online registration. I urge you to register right away, especially if you have time restraints during those days. We can accommodate about 125 families during each time block, and the sign-up is first-come, first-served. If you end up having difficulty with the time assigned, we’ll tell you what to do.

Peer Tutoring

I also wanted to bring to your attention a program that we have made known to students earlier in the term, which has been helpful to some families. Having grown out of a club, we now have a peer tutoring program, in which students in need of some help in a particular course can be paired with an upperclassman who can help a student in that course. The tutors are trained by our faculty, and the sessions are held during the school day. Tutors are in constant contact with the program leaders, and the program has been beneficial to both the student and the student tutor. If you’d like to know more about this program, please contact the faculty leaders: Jessica Leiken (leikej@d-e.org) or Karina Hernandez (hernak@d-e.org). For situations where you and/or your student think a student tutor might be more effective than a teacher, and you are looking for perhaps an ongoing situation, then peer tutoring might be a good option.

My Latest JoeCast

Finally I’d like to share my latest JoeCast with you. To listen you can click here.  You’ll likely gather that I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing our faculty and students who are involved in David & Lisa, this year’s Fall Play. David & Lisa opens at 7:00 PM tonight, Friday, Nov. 9 and will also be performed at 7:00 PM on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 7:00 PM in Hajjar Auditorium. And to our cast & crew: Break a leg!

Sincerely,

Joe Algrant

US Principal

19 Oct

Hispanic-Latino Assembly Highlights

A week ago, we were treated to a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month by our Hispanic and LatinX Affinity Group, working in collaboration with our INSPIRE club. The groups came together early in the year to talk with each other and formulate a plan for what they wanted to present to the Upper School. Once they put the plan together (a feat in itself) they set off to pull together an hour long presentation that included defining some terminology about being Hispanic or LatinX, playing some wonderful videos to highlight aspects of the culture, commentaries by our students, and a panel discussion about being Hispanic or LatinX in our School. As always, we heard powerful comments that both uplift and offer suggestions about how we can all better live and work together in the Upper School. It’s a tribute to our students that they are willing to participate in an event like this because it takes courage and poise, but in the end we all learn from each other in positive and powerful ways.

19 Oct

Save the Date: D-E PA Fête&Fare: Diwali Extravaganza, Nov. 15

Click image to RSVP

Fête&Fare is the new annual cultural gathering hosted by the D-E Parents’ Association (PA). Each year a different PA Affinity Group will host Fête&Fare in celebration of a unique holiday around the world to raise cultural awareness and to cherish the diversity in our D-E community.  This year, Fête&Fare: Diwali Extravaganza is being hosted by the South Asian Affinity Group (SAAG).  

To learn more and to RSVP online visit pa.d-e.org or click here.
19 Oct

From Joe Algrant, US Principal

Dear Families,

I’m writing as we come to the end of Spirit Week, our annual festival of fun events in a  energetic competition between grades for title of Most Spirited Class. This afternoon we crowned the senior class as winners of the 2018 trophy.

The events of the week range widely, in order to include many interests and abilities, from soccer to solving problems in chess and mathematics, and lots in-between. These events and the spirit of competition have magically lifted the mood on campus. From first thing Monday when the grade deans competed in charades and the dance club orchestrated a flash mob on stage, to yesterday’s door decorating, to today’s closing ceremony with musical chairs and limbo as the final events, it’s been five days of great fun. It’s hard not to be swept up in the emotion and good-natured excitement.

By happy coincidence, this has also been the week of several senior celebration days for our fall sports teams. With duplicate 1-0 wins on Wednesday, both the girls soccer and field hockey teams honored their powerful seniors and parents, while on Tuesday the volleyball team did the same, as did girls tennis yesterday. These are proud moments in the lives of seniors, to be celebrated for their years of participation and leadership. In celebrating the seniors, our younger students can look to the future as they cheer for their older teammates, and imagine what might be to come for them.

Lest you think this is only about fun, the week also invites other moments of education, development, and growth. It provides leadership opportunities for many students across the Upper School, both within grades and across them. It offers moments to highlight different talents, and presents challenges in grade-wide problem solving. I also hope that in some way it teaches a little about the importance and enjoyment of balance in life between work and play. In fact, it’s also been a week where students have been faced with work as usual, and we have watched them figure out how to get their stuff done and have time and energy for the fun. The week culminates tonight with a dance, from 7:30 to 10:00 PM, in Hajjar Auditorium.

The spirit and energy of the week is also of vital importance because of the way it unites us. Because our students and faculty lead busy lives that take us all in varied directions, many of them away from campus, we cannot always demonstrate spirit in ways more usual in other schools, such as being fans and spectators. I know that it frustrates our student athletes sometimes when the fan attendance is not what they would like. The same thing happens sometimes with other after-school, evening and weekend events such as theater or robotics events. I don’t believe this is really about lack of spirit, but more about the lives of our members and the geography of our School. So during a week like this, where we go out of our way to focus and encourage spirit, seeks to make up for the lack of more traditional demonstrations. Our intent is for students to walk away from the week feeling that there is a lot of positive energy around what is happening on campus.

Almost as an aside, one of my most favorite aspects of Spirit Week is watching the same students who can be typically adolescent: cynical, satirical, moody, brooding and just too cool for school; somehow turn into young children who love the prospect of dressing up in weird clothing and eating donuts off of a string. It’s what high school should be, so please look at the attached photos, which provide but a glimpse of what the week has been like.

I hope that your children enjoy the break on Monday while the faculty of all three divisions takes the day to meet as a whole and in groups to work on projects we have undertaken for the year. That will also be important work, but of a very different kind.

Best wishes for the weekend.

Sincerely,

-Joe Algrant, US Principal

16 Jun

Reminder from MS/US Nurse: 2017-2018 Health Forms

Dear MS/US Parents & Guardians,

Though this school year is just about to close, it is never too early to plan for the coming year!

The deadline for physical examination forms for the 2017-2018 school year is August 1, 2017. 

Any physical examination completed after January 1, 2017 will be accepted for the coming academic year.  Please print, sign and get your child’s physician’s signature(s) as noted, and then forward these required forms (find them at www.d-e.org/enroll or www.d-e.org/nursescorner) as soon as possible to avoid the last-minute rush and have questions resolved before the beginning of school.

If, due to insurance constraints, your child’s examination can only be done after August 1, please know that current exams will be kept on file until the updated one has been completed and returned to Health Services

If your child will be going to camp or you are planning a family vacation, please consider scheduling your child’s physical exam before leaving.   Planning in advance helps avoid the chaos of the pediatrician’s office before the start of school.

Also, please be advised that the only health form accepted for school attendance for all students is the NJ Preparticipation Physical Evaluation Form.  Pediatrician’s office forms can be accepted only for the immunization record.

For student-athletes:

Please remember the deadline of August 1st, especially if your child is planning to begin practice in August.  ALL physicals and signed consents must be in before the beginning practice so there can be a thorough review of health history.  Any student who presents forms on the day of practice will not be allowed to participate that day.

The Health Services office will undergo construction this summer and I will not have access to my room or my phone.  Should you have any questions or concerns, I can be reached via email (schuls@d-e.org), beginning July 5th.

Have a great summer,

Sara Schulman
MS/US Nurse
schuls@d-e.org