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Staying Connected: Your Stories - May 8, 2020

Connections in Education during the Coronavirus Crisis

As educators navigate unprecedented obstacles with limited resources and guaranteed uncertainty, New York State educators lead the nation in their acceptance of this challenge. Throughout our state, administrators, teachers, and school personnel have demonstrated their extraordinary dedication, support, and commitment to their students and our children. From teacher parades for students to food and technology deliveries for families, New York’s educators have risen to this challenge! The New York State Education Department wishes to highlight the exceptional dedication of our educators with examples of emotional support, equitable solutions, and instructional practices utilized to stay connected with the students of New York State during this period of building closures. Read more below for stories that have been shared with us recently, or, if you have your own stories to share, please visit our Submit Your Stories page for additional information. 

The Dyker Family: When Can I See You Again?

Dyker Heights Intermediate School 201, Brooklyn

March 15th, 2020 should have been just another day.  Instead, it was a day of shock and a day of anguish. What exactly did a shutdown mean? How would we continue to teach our students, our children, at home? Now, here we are weeks in, and I could not be prouder to be part of The Dyker Family, a title we have always used when referring to our staff. We were able to contact students about their academics, but we noticed we were missing a key piece of emotional connectivity. Human interaction is what we miss most. What better way to do that than with a Dyker Staff Spirit Day Video? The Dyker Family more than happily obliged. Each picture and message sent from the staff displays the care and love that we have for our students.  What started as a simple “We miss you!” video has spiraled into a weekly spirit day, each with a different theme.  

-Christina DeClara, Teacher, Dyker Heights Intermediate School 



Elementary School Visits Brazilian Rain Forest!

Lakewood Elementary School, Congers

“Bem-vindo à floresta tropical!” That means “Welcome to the rainforest” in Portuguese, the native language of Brazil. As they immersed themselves in a study of Brazil, Lakewood Elementary’s  “tour guides” took their classes on a virtual field trip through the Amazon Rainforest. This is one of the many ways that the staff at Lakewood has been able to engage and connect with their students while participating in remote learning. A team of third grade teachers, their teaching assistants, the special education teacher, the music teacher, the library-media specialist, the ELL teacher, and even the math specialist all collaborated to bring their students together to share in this unique experience. 

While remote learning may turn things upside down, there is still joy in all that we do!
Lakewood Elementary Heroes

Permission slips were sent, “class trip behaviors” were reviewed for the online environment, and students lined up with excitement in the waiting room for their class trip on Zoom. Once everyone was present, and after a few moments to catch up, the tour guide shared the screen so everyone was watching the same video. In the background, additional staff members, the “chaperones,” were making sure that all students connected and that everyone was following the online rules already established. Together everyone encountered poisonous dart frogs, colorful birds both large and small, howler monkeys that screeched, and even tarantulas! Ewww! We discussed why some animals were brightly colored and why some could camouflage. We covered the four different layers of the rainforest and the types of animals in each, and they even incorporated math while discussing that ⅔ of the animals in the rainforest actually live in the canopy layer! Who knew that sharing a video together could be so much fun!

Students were full of wonder and awe, and they left with a natural urge to investigate well beyond this adventure. They also had a chance to chat and visit with each other before signing off, making sure that each student knew that he/she is loved and missed! Tour guides said their goodbyes for the day and sent their kids off for some “extra recess.” While remote learning may turn things upside down, there is still joy in all that we do!

High School Band Won’t Let Pandemic Stop the Music

Syracuse Academy of Science Charter School 

When the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to in-person band practice, music teacher Lexi Carlson and her band students knew they had to keep the music going.

After trial, error, and six weeks of hard work, the Syracuse Academy of Science High School Band is releasing their first ever recording, “Ode to Joy,” the theme from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that for centuries has been a symbol of hope and the resilience of the human spirit.

Many of the band members began playing their instruments just this school year.  They started practicing "Ode to Joy" at school in February and continued to learn it remotely through one-on-one sessions over Zoom in order to put together the recording. It is the first time the students have ever practiced and recorded music on their own. Lexi Carlson, the Syracuse Academy of Science High School band teacher, put together the students’ individual recordings with the support of the Science Academies of New York multimedia department to create the released video recording.

“’Ode to Joy’ has been used across cultures throughout the world to bring hope and joy during difficult times,” Carlson says. “We hope that our performance brings some hope and joy to families in Syracuse today. We're excited that we’ve found a way to still make music together, now and in the weeks to come.”

Submit Your Own Stories

We encourage you to share your story. Your story might be a one-page account, a video, or even pictures showing us how your school, your students, and your community are staying connected. Please visit our Submit Your Story page for additional information.