We recently had the opportunity to visit with Yoni Messing, who stopped by Parkside over the summer. We had a great conversation about his memories of Parkside, and what inspired him to become a software developer.
On Thursday, June 15, 2017, The Parkside School celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2017. Our thirteen graduates will be going on to school's including the American School of Milan, Community School, The Computer School, Lowell School, Mary McDowell Friends School, Summit School, and York Prep.
During the ceremony, which was held at the JCC on 76th and Amsterdam, Conor Devlin '06 reflected on his Parkside experience, and gave our newest class of alumni some great advice. The following is the full trascript of his speech.
In 2014, The Parkside School held a benefit at Del Posto honoring Al Roker and Deborah Roberts. It was a festive evening, featuring “A Night of Comedy” exquisitely crafted by Sherri Shepherd with comic Joy Behar, Judy Gold, Diane Neal, and Tammy Pescatelli. Leading up to the event, Parkside set the goal of creating a dedicated fund that would help our school attract, develop and retain exceptional teachers and offer outstanding professional development opportunities.
The event raised more than $3.1 million thanks to 64 donors and a generous leadership challenge from the Isenberg family. Today, the fund’s balance has grown to more than $3.5 million, and the impact of that support can be seen throughout our school. Parkside’s annual budget for professional development includes more than $65,000 specifically for teacher training, consultants, conferences and initiatives that strengthen our curriculum and allow our staff to be leaders among special education professionals in New York City.
There is exceptional work happening year round to support our teachers and therapists. The following is a representative sampling of the type of impact the Fund for Teacher Excellence has had on our school.
Occupational Therapy in an integral part of Parkside’s educational program. Our team of therapists provide treatment in the classroom and in a fully-equipped sensory gym in order to facilitate the improvement of fine motor skills, develop and refine handwriting skills, support improved sensory processing and self-regulation, and ultimately provide students with the tools they need to achieve greater independence at school and at home.
Parkside’s four Occupational Therapists – Christine Yen, Michelle Redler, Tara King and Shannon McDowell – are a close-knit team. They recently sat down together to respond to some questions about why they choose to work at Parkside. These are their responses.
Before coming to Parkside full time in the Fall of 2016, Roberta Favant worked in an inclusion program but was looking for a school whose resources were dedicated 100% to special needs students. “As a speech and language therapist, my purpose is to support special needs students, and I wanted to work is a setting designed for them. The Parkside program places a particular emphasis on language learning, and that has been the focus of my practice over the years,” she said. Ms. Favant had attended professional development workshops at Parkside, including the Constable Reading sessions as part of the Parkside Summer Institute, and a Carol Gray lecture on social stories. “The workshops were excellent, as is the reputation Parkside holds in the special education community, she recalls.
Ms. Favant took some time to share with us her unique perspective on The Parkside School, our students, and our philosophy of teaching.
From his post in Morocco, where he and his wife Kate are serving in the Peace Corps, Parkside alumnus Robert Stewart '00 took some time to reflect on what his Parkside experience meant to him. There isn’t one thing he remembers most vividly, he says, “rather, it is a mix of everything -- the tight knit social groups, the library on the first floor, the music room, the ball pit in the occupational therapy room. There are too many good memories to count.” He recalls that Parkside did a wonderful job preparing him for the future.
Every day I feel lucky that my son William goes to Parkside. William is a funny, smart, loving, happy and in many ways a complicated little boy. He needs to be at a school where the directors, teachers, therapists, and staff not only recognize, but understand his strengths and challenges, are attuned to his feelings and appreciate him for his unique self. A place where he can feel part of a community and develop an identity. Parkside gives him all of these things and more.
We are very fortunate at Parkside to benefit from a caring educational environment with an amazing student/staff ratio addressing the needs of our children. This has made for many smiles and sunny days at Parkside. In the distance, however, there are ominous storm clouds brewing. The current political environment may lead to an uncertain future for specialized programs like Parkside’s. There are proposals out there that threaten funding from the federal Department of Education. There are proposals to eliminate federal laws which guarantee IDEA funding for learning environments like the one we have at Parkside. In New York, the push towards Charter Schools has come at the expense of public programs, and support for tuition reimbursement at special education schools. Future funding levels for our school are not guaranteed.
As part of our Staff Spotlight series, we recently sat down with Audrey Eisenberg to learn about her experience at Parkside. Ms. Eisenberg is a Group Teacher in 4-1.
This post is part of a series designed to highlight the outstanding staff that support Parkside students. If you have suggestions for future articles, please contact Anthony Kapp.
The Parkside School relies on the generous financial support of our community to ensure the individualized curriculum we offer for each child while maintaining our commitment to a diverse student body. Whether you are a grateful alumnus, thankful parent, or caring friend, your support enables Parkside to meet our day-to-day operational needs while offering a thoughtfully designed, comprehensive array of academic and support services.
Mike Tramontana is Parkside's gym teacher and head of the arts and movement program.
Q: Why do you teach?
A: At first I wanted to become a teacher because I knew I wanted to have a family of my own, and I’ve seen many friends complain of “not having enough time” for their children. I thought having the same schedule as a child in school would increase my overall time with my future children, something that is very important to me. Now that my wife is pregnant with our first child, due in April, I’ll finally get to see if my plan worked.
Once I began teaching, I lost sight of that original idea. Ensuring the children in my class were always safe, smiling and having fun during gym became my priority.
On March 15, Parkside's Auction culminated with a beautiful event at Bryant Park Grill, where more than 110 members of the Parkside community came together for a live auction featuring 11 original pieces of art by Parkside students.
The auction is an annual tradition at Parkside, each year offering a unique array of silent and live auction items. This year, there were more than 360 items offered in the online silent auction - there was truly something for everyone.
All proceeds from the event, which raised nearly $110,000, support library, art, music, drama, yoga and physical education as crucial elements of a Parkside education. Support of the auction allows our students to pursue learning in their areas of strength, to acquire tools and strategies to progress in their area of challenge, and to develop respect and understanding for themselves and others.
During the event at Bryant Park Grill, many had the opportunity to see the unveiling of this year’s all-school collaborative art piece. Titled “My Favorite Part of Me,” the photo collage
featured the self portraits of every student’s favorite body part, and was accompanied by a 164 page hard cover book with each child’s photo and a quote about why they chose their favorite part. The book was so popular during the event that we spontaneously offered it for sale during the live auction paddle raise. If you did not have the opportunity to order a copy of the book during the paddle raise, but would like to have one, please download the order form and return it to Anthony Kapp no later than Wednesday, April 5.
The Parkside School extends our sincere thanks to everyone who supported the event by bidding in the auction, attending the event at Bryant Park Grill, soliciting auction items, and volunteering to ensure the auction went off without a hitch, especially auction co-chairs Bindia Malhotra and Linda Davidoff, and our sponsors, Maxwell Jacobs, Edelman Financial Services and Carnegie Framing.
Always learning and growing: That’s my motto. And, that’s why I love being an art teacher at The Parkside School. I have the freedom to create my own curriculum, and I maintain a balance of open-ended and guided projects throughout the year. I am inspired every day by my students who come up with original “WOW” art which might end up being the seed for an idea in a larger group project. I'm also inspired when children want to work together as team -- this mentality is perfect for actualizing large collaborative projects like the ones our classes have created for the upcoming “Black & White” Spring Auction.
In 2015-2016, because of generous donations to our Annual Fund, Parkside embarked on a journey to expand our Social Studies curriculum to encourage experiential learning, opportunities for students to interact with living history in their local environment. With the help of curriculum consultant Lisa Greenhut, an educator from The Museum of Natural History, a dynamic new curriculum was introduced. Topics included timelines and mapping, our American Flag, The Statue of Liberty, the history of New York City, Slavery, Founding Documents of American Democracy, Italy, and more - all with engaging classroom activities and resources, integrated technology experiences, and exciting field trips.
“There’s nothing to be scared of.” That’s the advice alumnus Armand Klisivitch ’08 would give to Parkside’s eldest students as they prepare for the next phase of their education.
“Everything I learned at Parkside prepared me for the journey ahead. We all face challenges, but the skills and independence I learned at Parkside help me overcome them without a problem.”
The perfect gift for family members and special friends, these tea towels feature the self-portraits of every Parkside student. Pick up an order form at the front desk, or download it here, and get yours while supplies last! The cost is $15 for 1 tea towel, $25 for 2 tea towels, and $12.50 for each additional towel. Questions? Contact Bindia Malhotra.
Have you placed your order yet for your Parkside apparel? We've partnered with Land's End to offer some unique apparel options for purchase. What better way to show your school spirit than to wear a Parkside sweatshirt or fleece? To learn more about the items available, download the order form.
To schedule a visit please contact: Rachel Vannucci, Director of Admissions, (212) 721-8888 x138
email at: RVannucci@parksideschool.org