A Historic Partnership: Hyde Partners with the NYU Steinhardt Teacher Residency Program

Dr. Allan Powe and his mentor Melissa Powell help students in Biology
 

Hyde is proud to announce our new partnership with the NYU Steinhardt Teacher Residency Program, which allows NYU resident teachers to teach alongside Hyde mentor teachers while completing their degree in education. Hyde teachers also have the opportunity to mentor the NYU residents. In turn, NYU is offering Hyde professional development opportunities and cutting edge educational technology tools. “The partnership enforces this idea at Hyde that teaching requires learning,” said Sarah Schoonmaker, the NYU-Hyde cite coordinator for the high school and the Director of Teaching and Learning for the high school. “As educators, our professional development never stops. NYU is teaching us new things and our teachers are mentoring their fellows.” 

 

Hyde was selected by NYU for our intense on character education, our commitment to a strong character culture, and of course the rigor of our academics. NYU was also particularly impressed by our co-teaching model. Program coordinators from NYU were especially impressed by Hyde faculty’s ability to meet the needs of all our students and our core belief that every child has a unique potential. Indeed, it was these components that initially drew resident teacher Dr. Allan Powe to Hyde. He was especially drawn to Hyde because of our focus on character education, he said, “I believe that a focus on social-emotional learning can be transformational personally and academically and so does Hyde.”

 

The Hyde-NYU partnership is just another way that Hyde continues to maintain its promise of academic  excellence. This historic partnership continues to promise highly qualified and highly motivated instructors, who are open to learn and grow along with their students. The director of the high school Celia Sosa is very excited for the future. Speaking on the program she said: “Our partnership with NYU continues to create a pipeline of great teachers. The alignment between NYU’s philosophy of education and Hyde’s mission and vision is clear. The training residents receive in the program, coupled with an ability to learn about our students, approach, and curriculum, prepares them to be effective. The partnership also creates additional leadership opportunities for Hyde teachers, many of whom are eager and ready to take on the mentor role.” 

 

Dr. Allan Powe provides one-on-one instruction to students in science class.

Dr. Allan Powe provides one-on-one instruction to students in science class.

 
 
Fellow Marissa Ippolito engages one of her eighth students, Xiomara Kirkland on the Revolutionary War. “What was the nickname the Americans gave the British troops, Xiomara? You got this!” (Spoiler: she got the answer right!)
From Left: Sarah Schoonmaker (NYU Coordinator), Marissa Ippolito (MS fellow), Allan Powe, Erik Wiedenmann (HS fellow), Joe Tarantino (HS English Teacher and mentor to Mr. Wiedenmann). Not pictured: Janelle Jarvis (Co NYU coordinator), Jessica Perkins (MS fellow), and Melissa Powell (HS science teacher and mentor to Mr. Powe)

MS Lacrosse & HS Volleyball- Hyde’s Newest Sports

Character education lies at the heart of sports, and that is why Hyde is proud to announce the addition of two new sports to our athletic program: high school women’s volleyball and middle school boys’ lacrosse. These new sports are expanding options for students and allow more students to explore their unique potential.

Empowering Women Through Sports

Kimberly Rivera, a high school special education teacher, and her assistant coaches, Sika Bediako and Geomari Fernandez, founded Hyde’s first high school volleyball team. Since launching the team, Ms. Rivera has seen her student-athletes’ communication both on and off the court improve. She has also seen her students forge new relationships that have contributed to the team’s success. “The feeling of achievement pushes them to be better, which in turn has a ripple effect with their academics,” Ms. Rivera said. “It is very meaningful to have a space on campus where women can come together and support each other and work toward a common goal.”

The 2019 Hyde Women's Volleyball Team!

Hyde’s 2019 Volleyball Team!

Welcome to Hunts Point, Lacrosse! 

Hyde has also introduced a new sport to Hunts Point-  lacrosse. Michael Griffin, the middle school boys lacrosse coach, feels that when students are faced with new experiences, they are best able to show courage, and when students show courage, they learn what they can accomplish. Lacrosse is also a sport that combines elements of many different sports that students enjoy like baseball, football, soccer, and basketball.

Hyde students in their first lacrosse game.

Hyde students at their first lacrosse game.

Most importantly, Mr. Griffin says he’s been thrilled to watch the valuable life lessons lacrosse has taught his players. “At the end of the day, winning or losing isn’t what’s important,” said seventh-grade lacrosse player, Enmanuel Hernandez. “Lacrosse has taught me so much about community. It is something that along with academics can take you to college. It fits in really well at Hyde because it has taught me a lot about concern and brother’s keeper for my teammates.”

Enmanuel Hernandez (middle) and his teammates Eric Rosario Jr. (left) and Edgar Garcia (right) take a break from practicing their skills at recess.

Enmanuel Hernandez (middle) and his teammates Eric Rosario Jr. (left) and Edgar Garcia (right) take a break from practicing their skills at recess.

Athletics don’t just provide students with fun and exercise, but they teach them the value of integrity and the importance of overcoming difficulty. Not only do Hyde coaches instruct the students on the fundamentals of the game, but they both feel that sports are one of the best ways for students to practice the Hyde Words and Principles. Mr. Griffin said: “Sports teach students invaluable life lessons. Sports lie at the heart of character education.”

Enmanuel gives his all at the CityLax Fall FUNdamentals clinic. Enmanuel and his teammates attend the clinic every Sunday.

Enmanuel gives his all at the CityLax Fall FUNdamentals clinic. Enmanuel and his teammates attend the clinic every Sunday.

Academic Excellence: Hyde Launches the AP Capstone Diploma Program

From left: Betsabed De La Rosa, Matthew Hittenmark, and Christian Deleon.

From left: Betsabed De La Rosa, Matthew Hittenmark, and Christian Deleon.

Hyde is one of only approximately 1,800 schools worldwide to implement the AP Capstone Diploma program―a program that allows students to develop the skills that matter most for college success, like research, collaboration, and communication. The Capstone program is comprised of two classes taken back-to-back: an AP Seminar and an AP Research course. The program is designed to give students adequate college preparation and exposure to topics covered in a collegiate setting. 

Students who score a three or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and  four additional AP Exams of their choosing earn the AP Capstone Diploma. This represents the students’ exceptional academic accomplishment and fulfillment of college-level academic and research classes. Students who score a three or higher in both AP Seminar and AP Research earn the AP Seminar and Research Certificate. Hyde will start offering the program in the fall of 2019.

“We are excited to venture into the AP Capstone. It shows the rigor of our academics to be included in such an exclusive category, ” said Director of College Counseling, Matthew Hittenmark.  “Allowing students to engage in cross-curricular research is the pinnacle of our academic pedagogy.” 

Typically taken in tenth or eleventh grade, in AP Seminar students choose and evaluate complex topics and look at them from many different points of view.  They also identify credibility and bias in sources provided and develop arguments in support of their position. 

 “We discuss the world’s problems and how we can fix them,” said sophomore Christian Deleon. “We are given the tools to properly and respectfully discuss what’s going on in the world. I’m very honored to be in the class.”

AP Seminar is a project-based class with assessments such as research reports, written arguments, and presentations completed during the academic year. 

“AP Seminar not only helps us learn how to write essays with a clear argument, but it teaches us how to argue in a debate,” said sophomore Betsabed De La Rosa. “The class also strengthens our knowledge of topics and situations outside the classroom. I find myself using what I learned in class in my everyday life.” 

In the AP Research course, students design, execute, present, and defend a yearlong research-based investigation on a topic of personal interest. They boost their skills garnered in AP Seminar by learning how to approach and make sense of their research. The class will teach students to use ethical research practices and to compile, analyze, and synthesize academic research. AP Research is also a project-based course. Students’ final AP Research score will be based on their academic paper, presentation, and oral defense of their topic. 

Speaking on what the new partnership means, Mr. Hittenmark said: “Our students have the capacity to become powerful change agents in our community and beyond. Partnering with AP Capstone creates the vehicle for students to engage with real word problems in a collegiate atmosphere.” 

Matt Hittenmark engages student Angie Peña on biases in the media in the AP Capstone Course.

Matthew Hittenmark engages student Angie Peña on biases in the media in the AP Capstone Course.

Intercurricular Synergy: Teaching Robotics in Middle School

What combines science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics? Robotics, of course! 7th Grade Science Teacher, Curtis Redmon found that teaching students robotics creates a perfect kind of synergy between many different school subjects. Mr. Redmon has found that students are able utilize many different tools learned in other subjects. The robotics programs also let students explore their curiosity as many of the labs allow students to work independently. After coding on their Chromebooks, students were introduced to the EV3 robot made by LEGO. Students then learned each component of the EV3. All 150 students in grades 6th and 7th had took part in building the initial robot. Eventually, the challenges got harder and students had to complete a performance task of programming the EV3 to simulate a “tight rope” roll across a beam using one wheel. In the beginning, most performance task were modeled first by Mr. Redmon and Mr. Griffin, but as the unit progressed students began to write and execute their own programs.

Students collaborate on the "Robot Barrel Roll" lab where the goal is to program a robot to do a barrel roll.

Bringing robotics to Hyde was the vision of Middle School Director, Lex Zain and Dean of Curriculum, Sharilyn Fletcher. Both Ms. Zain and Dr. Fletcher had studied the benefits of having robotics programming in schools and decided that it would be a perfect fit for Hyde. Hyde is among one of the few schools in the country that offers robotics as a full-time course in Middle School. 

Having robotics at Hyde benefits students in many ways. The program gives students the ability and liberty to be as creative as they want and need to be in order to complete a task. “Just like a math problem, there are several different ways to the same outcome,” Mr. Redmon said. When students were assigned the “tight rope” tasks, Mr. Redmon said he was amazed at how many different ways students utilized to reach the same end result. 

Bryan Banegas (left) works collaboratively with a partner on the "Robot Barrel Roll" lab.

Bryan Banegas (left) works collaboratively with a partner on the “Robot Barrel Roll” lab.

The unit challenged the 6th and 7th graders to think outside the box and come out of their shells. One student who has particularly thrived through the robotics program is seventh-grader Bryan Benegas. “I love how interactive the class is,” said Bryan. “This class is preparing me for life. Robots are the future. I know it will give me a head for the future.” Through the robotics unit, Bryan says he learned how technology has and will affect the economy and his career choices.

One of Mr. Redmon’s favorite memories came during a task given called “The Grip”. In the beginning, students thought this was not doable. Until curiosity set in and they began to work on it. This task was to draw a design on paper and then have the robot draw the same design using the grip they built. Students designed and built a pencil grip or claw which holds the pencil. Students then programmed on their chromebooks a program that the robot would do to draw the same exact sketch they illustrated on paper. Mr. Redmon said:  “The outcome was amazing and the students were almost in disbelief that the robot they built, designed, and programmed is drawing their sketch on paper.”

"Before asking Mr. Griffin or me for help, I want you and your partner to try and problem solve," Mr. Redmon tells his seventh grade robotics class. He says he's been thrilled with the results of the course on his students, especially in the passions the course has ignited.

“Before asking Mr. Griffin or me for help, I want you and your partner to try and problem solve,” Mr. Redmon tells his seventh grade robotics class. He says he’s been thrilled with the results of the course on his students, especially in the passions the course has ignited.

Career Preparation: Hyde Partners with Here to Here & Futures and Options Program

Donovan
By Donovan Rice, Hyde Class of 2020

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in Here to Here Futures and the Futures and Options program.  Every Monday, we had a workshop or would go on a field trip to different local businesses to see how they functioned. The rest of the week we worked in an internship at a local business. This is my second year with the program. I was also lucky enough to be joined by four of my classmates this year. We all worked in different locations. I worked at Zaro’s Bakery, and my classmates worked at Randall’s Island, the Bronx Borough President’s Office, and Krasdale Foods. 

I got the opportunity to work at the Zaro’s factory in the Bronx with the owner of the company, Michael Zaro. At first, when I was assigned to the job, I was really nervous because I’d never worked in a bakery before. By the end of the summer, I had a one-on-one connection with everyone in the bakery.  Every morning when I arrived, I would walk through each of the different departments, and answer about 30-40 checklist questions to make sure everything was running smoothly. I also helped to assign lot codes to each Zaro’s product. The job was difficult, but I am so thankful I got the opportunity to do it because it means that Zaro’s sees me as a responsible and capable employee. 

A big takeaway from the summer for me was to be outgoing. I think that being out of my comfort zone pushed me to be more outgoing and learn a lot of new skills. By opening myself up to people, and to feedback, I was able to gain a lot of responsibility. I was even offered a year-round job! 

 

Hyde’s Summer Leap Program Enriches Academics and Ignites Passions

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As Hyde’s Summer Leap Program concludes its fifth year, elementary school teachers continue to watch their students blossom. “We started the program because we want to make sure students are still learning over the summer and that all the great work teachers are doing is not lost over summer vacation,” said elementary school special education teacher and Hyde Summer Leap Program Director, Davina Davis. “We want students to really foster a love of reading and show them that they shouldn’t stop reading when the school year stops.”

The summer program has evolved to also include a Pre-K for rising Hyde kindergartners. Rising kindergartners, Camilla De Paz, and Leonela Pichardo are very excited to start at Hyde and said they have already learned a lot! “My favorite part [of the program] was writing my name. I can write my name now! We did reading too. We read pattern books,” said Camilla. “I learned how to write the date,” Leonela added. “We danced too.” Each week a different group of rising kindergartners attended a combination summer enrichment and Hyde orientation. “Teachers get to see if the students have any number sense yet or if they know how to write their name and date,” said Ms. Davis. Before the Pre-K program, many teachers students and their families felt they were starting the year without really knowing their Hyde community. “So we started learning about our incoming students and their families over the summer,” said Ms. Davis. “By getting families involved, this helps create and start a great relationship with parents, teachers, and students. We begin to build a community.” 

Special thank you to our Summer Leap partners: Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr. and D’Arrigo New York! 

In their own words: 

Every grade got to further hone their math skills by practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and by doing number stories to bolster their mathematical comprehension. Math was rising third grader Abeyuwa “Starr” Uwoghiren’s favorite part of the summer. “I liked doing multiplication because it’s really fun for me, but my teacher made it even more fun for us. Every multiplication fact we did was a point towards getting an ice cream sundae! I can’t wait to learn more math this year,” said Starr pictured right with her friend Jada Paulino.

Every grade got to further hone their math skills by practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and by doing number stories to bolster their mathematical comprehension. Math was rising third grader Abeyuwa “Starr” Uwoghiren’s favorite part of the summer. “I liked doing multiplication because it’s really fun for me, but my teacher made it even more fun for us. Every multiplication fact we did was a point towards getting an ice cream sundae! I can’t wait to learn more math this year,” said Starr pictured right with her friend Jada Paulino.

Throughout the four weeks of summer enrichment, each grade was tasked with the One Hundred Book Challenge where every class had to read 100 books by the end of the program. Unsurprisingly, every grade met, and in some cases exceeded, the challenge! The One Hundred Book challenge had an especially large impact on rising third graders Maylin Reyes (left) and Jayson Sanchez (right). “My favorite part of the summer was when I learned about lightening. We read a book about lightening and now I want to know more,” Jayson said. “I want to read harder books now,” Maylin said. “This year I will challenge myself to read more chapter books!”

Throughout the four weeks of summer enrichment, each grade was tasked with the One Hundred Book Challenge where every class had to read 100 books by the end of the program. Unsurprisingly, every grade met, and in some cases, exceeded, the challenge! The One Hundred Book Challenge had an especially large impact on rising third graders Maylin Reyes (left) and Jayson Sanchez (right). “My favorite part of the summer was when I learned about lightening. We read a book about lightening and now I want to know more,” Jayson said. “I want to read harder books now,” Maylin said. “This year I will challenge myself to read more chapter books!”

Rising second grader, Jacob Dominguez especially enjoyed the math courses. “This summer I learned a lot of math” he said. “We did fun number stories and I learned how to count to a thousand!”

Rising second-grader, Jacob Dominguez especially enjoyed the math courses. “This summer I learned a lot of math” he said. “We did fun number stories and I learned how to count to a thousand!”

Rising first grader, Zoe Abreu said she learned a lot through play.“This summer I learned about sharing,” she said. “When I’m coloring and someone wants a color that I am using I let them share it with me and we both can use it.”

Rising first-grader, Zoe Abreu said she learned a lot through play.“This summer I learned about sharing,” she said. “When I’m coloring and someone wants a color that I am using I let them share it with me and we both can use it.”

“My favorite part [of the program] was writing my name. I can write my name now! We did reading too. We read pattern books,” said rising Hyde kindergartner Camilla De Paz.

“My favorite part [of the program] was writing my name. I can write my name now! We did reading too. We read pattern books,” said rising Hyde kindergartner Camilla De Paz.

“I learned how to write the date,” rising kindergartner Leonela Pichardo said. “We danced too.”

“I learned how to write the date,” rising kindergartner Leonela Pichardo said. “We danced too.”

 

Great Minds Think: Hyde Students Study At St. John’s Summer Academy

In addition to learning a lot in the classroom, Chelsea says that the program was also a great opportunity to meet new people and make friends from across the country.

In addition to learning a lot in the classroom, Chelsea said that the program was also a great opportunity to meet people and make friends from across the country.

At the beginning of July, three rising Hyde seniors and one rising junior attended the St. John’s Summer Academy at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. The St. John’s Summer Academy is a college summer program for high school students that is modeled after St. John’s discussion-based, interdisciplinary method of teaching through books. It also serves as a hands-on introduction to college life. Students are tasked with honing their reading, critical thinking, and discussion skills. They also get to take off-campus excursions. 

Chelsea Torres was accepted into the Revolution and Rebellion: Justice and Law program. The program examines the concept of revolution by exploring its role within social, political, and scientific life. Chelsea went to three different classes at St. John’s: a seminar, a language course, and a mathematics course. “The math class was definitely my favorite,” Chelsea said. “It taught me to view math in a more conceptual way.”  In addition to the courses, students could sign up for workshops. Chelsea went kayaking, made pottery, and took swing dance lessons. 

Nana Ampoma Mensah was accepted into the Freedom and Order: Creating Laws, Government, and Society program. In his program, students examined the concept of order out of chaos in the political, literary and scientific spheres. Students had to question whether governing structures restrict individual autonomy. Nana says the program was life-changing for him. “The big takeaway from the program for me was learning how to see things from other people’s perspectives,” he said. “Being in the program taught me that even my friend disagrees with me it doesn’t necessarily mean one of us is right and one of us wrong. Perhaps it means we just interpreted information in different ways. This program really opened my eyes.”

Special thank you to St. John’s College and Mr. Perry Lerner!

Students got to go Kayaking!

Students learned to kayak.

 

Nana took this photo of the moon using a high powered telescope as part of his science class

Nana took this photo of the moon using a high powered telescope as part of his science class.

 

The telescope Nana's science class got to use.

The telescope Nana’s science class used.

 

 

Leadership and Courage: The Hyde 101 New Faculty Retreat

“I was so excited about all the eagerness and wonderful energy I felt from Hyde 101! I'm happy to continue to be a part of the Hyde family. I can tell we are going to have a memorable school year,” said John Swader, elementary school performing arts teacher and Hyde 101 coordinator

“I was so excited about all the eagerness and wonderful energy I felt from Hyde 101! I’m happy to continue to be a part of the Hyde family. I can tell we are going to have a memorable school year,” said John Swader, elementary school performing arts teacher and Hyde 101 coordinator

At the end of August, new faculty embarked on a Hyde right of passage: Hyde 101. Hyde 101 is a Hyde signature practice where faculty communally explore their character on a three-day retreat. The purpose  is for faculty to engage in a reflective, restorative, and informational experience, so they return to Hyde with a deeper understanding of the words and principles and feel comfortable challenging themselves and their students to take steps towards exploring character in the classroom. “Employees at Hyde commit to a rigorous, continuous process of character development, not only for the students but also for themselves and our families,” said Thomas Sturtevant, our executive director.  “Among the outcomes of our Hyde 101 retreat is the intrinsic value participants realize in their own process of self-discovery.” 

Hyde 101 provides the opportunity, time, and a safe space for new teachers to deeply access their own conscience and explore the attitudes they carry. Attitudes and actions often hold us back from what we want to see in ourselves and what we want to be in life. New faculty also reflect and consider their personal growth and receive feedback from a challenging, yet supportive community. “I’m so grateful for the much-needed support system this retreat gave me,” said Naeha Sayed, middle school Data and Assessment Manager.

To get the most out of the retreat, each participant is asked to approach the three-day trip with integrity by being as honest as they can both with themselves and with others.  “I am starting the school year in a more open, honest and inspired way because of the New Teacher Retreat,” said Laura Troy, the high school Math Department Head and coordinator of the retreat.

Faculty at Hyde are not only tasked with  modeling, educating, and both showing and teaching leadership, but also inspiring. Inspiration in job # 1 and the most important thing we implore of  Hyde faculty. “Each year I am pushed, inspired, and grow from stories shared, courage expressed, and everyone’s openness to Hyde,” Ms. Troy said. Ms. Sayed said: “My biggest takeaway from the retreat would be, the sense of a newfound family, where everyone builds a relationship based on trust and sincerity.”

Special thank you to Malcolm Gauld, Laura Gauld, and Tom Bragg!

Class of 2019 Rocks: Thomas Sturtevant’s Graduation Speech

Mr. Sturtevant delivers his address at the 2019 graduation ceremony.

Mr. Sturtevant, our executive director, delivers his address at the 2019 graduation ceremony.

At the beginning of your freshman year, Jalen Rice walked into my office and said, “Hey Mister, this is nice! …So much light!…. What’s with all those rocks?” She was referring to a collection of rocks that decorate my window sill and conference table. I replied to Jalen, “Those are my rocks; I have collected them from special places, and they remind me of important journeys and people in my life. This one here, for example, is from Caumsett State Park on Long Island. I picked it up the day my daughter Lizzie learned to ride a bike. That rock reminds me of how much courage it took for Lizzie to overcome her fear and trust her new feeling of balance on two wheels.” Jalen said, “That’s cool. Maybe I’ll find you a rock for your office.” As the class of 2019 completes its journey at Hyde, some of you after 13 years, you are each taking with you a few special rocks, metaphorically speaking, wherever you end up spending your time in the future, be it college or work.

The best rocks are the ones that, if they could talk, would say something absolutely true that you know deep down about yourself and your purpose in life. You bring these rocks with you because they are like your character, the foundation of your values and the source of your greatest strengths. As you know, the Senior Evaluation Process at Hyde uncovers these character rocks, and the feedback you got in that process can form a few rocks worth carrying with you for the rest of your life.

One of my rocks is the truth about me as a competitor: I may not be the most talented, but I try really hard. I got that rock in Middle School from Colie Matheson on a bus ride home. Out of the blue he said to me: “Hey, Sturtevant. You know you aren’t the best athlete in our class. You just try harder.” At the time, I took his comment as a slight to my athleticism, but after thinking about it, I knew he was right. My success was and still is not from raw talent but from relentlessness. This quality of my character is as true today as it was in Middle School. However, what’s different now is that I know this about myself, and I put myself in situations that suit my relentlessness. That makes me happy and successful.

As you graduate from Hyde, I implore you to take some rocks of your own. What self-knowledge will you take with you that makes you successful and is essential to your purpose? Perhaps you will take a concern rock that you picked up when you heard your friend’s story of being afraid. Perhaps you will bring that integrity Rock you picked up in Ms. Mgbada’s basketball huddle. Maybe the curiosity rocks you collected making films are already in your pockets. I bet you will carry a handful of smooth, black feedback rocks you collected over the years in Discovery Group. Definitely take that big one that is all courage that you lugged home from the senior retreat. Maybe you haven’t yet found a leadership rock, but you will in time as you pursue your dreams and your vision for your life.

It would be easy to see college as a fresh start, a place where nobody knows your past, a place where you might become someone completely new. But that’s not how it works. You show up as you, and you stay you while trying to figure out how you will chart a course to a future you that is entirely up to you. Here’s where the rocks you bring come in. These “rocks” are really your truth, and you already know that “truth is your guide,” especially as you seek to understand your place in the world. That you know so much about your character, your strengths, what gets in your way, what it takes to stand in someone else’s shoes or to be a brother’s keeper… because you know as much about yourself and others, you have an important leadership capacity that your new peers will perceive and appreciate.

Here’s an imaginary example. Picture Lazje Sanchez at her college orientation. She is going to participate like everyone else and hear about all these amazingly talented and diversely oriented people who will be her college classmates at SUNY Delhi. As these new classmates introduce themselves during orientation, Lazje might be impressed: “That one played a concert at Carnegie Hall; this one wrote a children’s book; the person over there started a business; she is from Brazil and has designer clothes that she models professionally; he makes money on YouTube….” After the orientation get-to-know-you icebreakers, her thoughts might go something like this: “I am so ordinary compared to all these very cool and successful people. I wonder if I’ll ever stand out or become as accomplished as they are. What am I doing here? Do I belong?” Meanwhile other students are going to be thinking, “I couldn’t believe how confidently that woman Lazje talked about herself and how honestly she shared her strengths, weaknesses, and goals. How does she know so well what is important to her? I can trust her; I hope she will be my friend.” What happens next? Lazje reminds herself that she is in college to become a lawyer, not to compare herself to a bunch of people she doesn’t know yet. So she sticks to her plan and naturally makes friends who have the intelligence and sensitivity to appreciate her for who she is.

Class of 2019: You are among the most promising graduating HS students in the country because you understand that your success and happiness are rooted in your character and in your capacity to actively come up with, pursue, and realize your dreams.

When you go to college, you are going to encounter many differently advantaged students, some students who seem like they have everything already, some students who seem to already know how everything works at college and with getting jobs. It’s true; a lot of college students already have many social and economic advantages from the day they were born. That’s a fact; however, it’s also a fact that happiness and success are mostly determined by how well you align your dreams and values with the life you lead and your commitments. It’s not about where you start; it’s about where you are aimed— where you take yourself with intention. It’s not about luckiness nor about having many things go your way; happiness derives from making commitments, making good choices, and building relationships that call for your best and engage your special strengths and interests.

The Hyde character programs teach you to look back at your experiences with a wide-angle, summing up who you are deep down, by how you have grown and evolved as a person. You really know YOUR story and where it is leading you. This foundation of character is essential to your future success and happiness; you DO know your strengths and what sometimes gets in your way. You DO know what makes you special and how to help others be their best.

In your next phase of life, you are bound to encounter exciting opportunities and unexpected setbacks, and when you do, you will be prepared to make the most of both the good fortune or the bad luck by engaging your character as you have learned at Hyde.

One of the priorities of college communities is to create “safe spaces” for open dialog and critical examination of contemporary issues and beliefs. The world badly needs fresh leadership and new ideas, and no doubt colleges are essential institutions to addressing the challenge of imagining a sustainable and equitable future for our planet. As you participate in civil discussions about our future, bring your rocks; speak your truth and listen with concern for what others believe or have experienced; stand up for those threatened by bullies; be a skeptic of partisan thinking and self-serving agendas; get curious about what others find important… why do they love, hate, hurt, or heal? Seek significant truths in your inquiries, even if these truths are disruptive.

In a world that does not have guarantees about safety, a safe space is where people live with character; are curious about others; are courageous about saying the truth and facing conflicts and challenges; where people work from a place of concern and try to stand in other people’s shoes, even people who seem to hate you. A safe space is where bystanders stand up for the persecuted. A safe space is where you never give up, never go for blanket statements, never shut down dialogue, especially when it might be difficult or contentious. You make safe spaces by how you occupy them— with curiosity, concern, integrity, courage, and leadership.

Class of 2019, I am so eager for you to go forth as leaders, with some serious rocks in your pockets, ready to bring your best and to call for everyone’s best as we take responsibility for a sustainable and just society

Teaching to Conscience: The Bronx River Project Freshmen Symposium Showcases Interdisciplinary Activism

Students shared their research with their peers and teachers for the Bronx River Project Freshmen Symposium

Students shared their research with their peers and teachers for the Bronx River Project Freshmen Symposium

 At the beginning of the school year teachers across many disciplines discussed doing an interdisciplinary project with the freshmen. Science department chair, Colleen Brosnan took the lead in the project. Ms. Brosnan and other teachers including history teacher, Grace Mason decided to do the project on the Bronx River to bring a community aspect to the showcase. Celia Sosa, our High School Director remarked on how The Bronx River Project showed the impact of community partnerships and how the showcase made students grapple with and apply relevant concepts to their studies. She added: “Our students produced excellent work as a result.” Joe Appel, our High School Director of Academic Programs also added that the symposium set a tremendous precedent for what rigorous interdisciplinary learning can look like at Hyde. He said: “I was most impressed by how the students were able to discuss environmental issues through the lenses of science, history, and English.” 

Colleen Brosnan: 

One of my goals for earth science this year was to try to bring learning outside of the classroom and to show how everything students are learning is interconnected. 

Colleen Brosnan chats with students over Goldfish.

Colleen Brosnan chats with students over Goldfish.

 

Each floor of the school featured projects from different disciplines. On one floor we had History projects that featured the history of the Bronx River and how its resources have been used. For the Science project floor, we showcased how data was collected from the Bronx River to determine its water quality over time.  We went to the river four different times and partnered with Rocking the Boat, a nonprofit that encourages youth development through environmental science, to get the most accurate quality testing results we could. The English floor consisted of projects that explored what would happen if the full effects of climate change are realized. They read dystopian literature on the subject and combined that to their research. Students also coordinated a carnival in the gym! My favorite projects were the ones where students actually made recommendations on how they could improve the quality of the Bronx River. I was particularly impressed by Oslisa Encarnacion and Henderlis Feliz’s project. They didn’t just collect data; rather they collected data, analyzed it, thought carefully about what it meant, and then generated recommendations based on that data for their community. Oslisa and Henderlis even brought in a sample of permeable concrete and explained how it works and how we could use it at Hyde.

I think the Freshmen Symposium project pushes freshmen to be better public speakers and to be more invested in their work. The interdisciplinary aspect was also really special because it shows students the commonality in all that they are learning.