09252020: In-Person Learning Begins, PTA Coffee + Back to School Night
In this issue:

Principal's Letter

Dear Parents,

I hope your children have had a good first week. I appreciate their patience and yours too as we adjusted the schedules and worked on helping students connect.

We are looking forward to welcoming the students back into the building on Thursday October 1. Moving forward, when we do have a holiday on a Monday, we will adjust our schedule for the week, so that we will follow a Monday schedule on the Friday of that week. This will not be the case for this coming week, as we do not want to add another scheduling challenge to the equation so soon. 


The Department of Education is mandating health screenings for every person entering the school building. All students and DOE employees must complete a health screening EVERY DAY before they enter the school building. This can be done by parents or students in one of two ways:
  • Option A: Use the following link to complete it online: You will get a confirmation that it has been completed. Your child must show the confirmation before entering the building.  
  • Option B: Complete the DOE health screening on paper either at home or once they arrive at school. (Copies will be available at the 108th Street entrance and at the corner of 107th and Columbus Avenue. Your child must hand in the paper and have their temperature checked before entering.
See the September 21 DOE Update Letter for Families which explains the health screenings, where to get tested for COVID-19, how to stay informed on COVID-19 cases in your school community, and what transportation to and from school looks like.


Back-to-School Night will take place remotely on Thursday, October 8th from 7:00PM-8:15PM. You will have a chance to meet all of your child’s teachers and to hear about their plans for the coming year. You will receive your individualized schedule and Zoom links via email early that week. 

We are emailing your child’s schedule of services (mandated counseling, speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy.) You will receive that by the end of the day on Tuesday, September 29. If you have any questions about the schedule, please reach out to the provider. Their names and email addresses will be on the email.

If you have a concern about your child’s work, grade, class, please reach out to the class teacher first. With two exceptions (Stefanie Cohen –  and Randee Johnson,) all teachers can be contacted by emailing their
Absent? Email
Point Person Role Email Contact 212-678-2861

Armstrong,Peter Computer Technology Coordinator
Ext 2092
Chapman Dewar, Shauna Guidance Counselor
EXT 1082
Collet-Ruberte, Darlene Guidance Counselor
EXT 1084
Elster, Elana Principal EXT 1361
Lynch Geraghty, Laura Assistant Principal  
Huggins, Patricia School Secretary EXT 1383
Mafdali, Jodi Special Needs Coordinator EXT 1051
Orcher, Deanne Dean/Safety and Mediation EXT 3451
Pejovich, Anne Parent Coordinator EXT 1441
Williams, Erica Student Coordinator EXT 2051
Aronoff, Stephanie Special Services 504s, BIP/FBA EXT 1461
Gonzalez, Tanya IEPs/IEP Teacher Support EXT 1461
Elana Elster

First Equity Team Meeting is 9/30 @ 7:00 pm

The first virtual Equity Team meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 30 from 7pm - 8:30pm, and all students, families, teachers, and staff are welcome to join. This is a time to share hopes, concerns, and ideas regarding Equity at MS54, particularly with relation to the pandemic, remote learning, and current events. 

Topic: Equity Team 9/30
Time: Sep 30, 2020 07:00 PM
Meeting ID: 960 3801 8829
Passcode: 777805

To share questions, comments, or suggestions for the Equity Team (anonymously or with contact information), please use this Google Form. Submissions in all languages are welcome.

This month is Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15 - Oct 15) and the Equity Team is preparing to share a resource list with relevant books, films, articles, art, events, and leaders. If you have resources you would like to share relating to Latinx & Hispanic Heritage, please share them via this Google Form by 10/1/2020.

Keep your eyes out for a welcome letter from the Equity Steering Team next week.

October Parent Coffee on 10/2 @ 8:00 am

Just because we can't get together in person doesn't mean we can't have coffee! Join us next Friday, October 2 at 8:00 am for the monthly PTA Coffee with Dr. Elster. Ask questions, share ideas and meet new friends!

October Coffee Chat
Time: Oct 2, 2020 08:00 AM 
Meeting ID: 960 7783 2426. Passcode: 943970
+16465588656,,96077832426#,,,,,,0#,,943970# US (New York)

Annual Appeal: Keep it Coming, Folks!

As you know, this year we need to raise more than we ever have through the Annual Appeal:  $250,000.

So far, we're at $74,000 -- 30% of our goal!

In the past, we've requested that families donate $1000 per child, however if you are able to give more, this is the year to do so! And if $1000 isn't in your budget, ANY amount you're able to give is welcome and very much appreciated! Every donation gets us closer to our goal. We're hopeful that every family will try to give this year -- it whatever capacity is possible.

Donations are 100% tax deductible and, of course, completely voluntary.

Please make your donation today to help pay for the unprecedented needs we're anticipating at the start of this very unusual year!

News from This Week's PTA Meeting 

PTA contacts, the 2020-21 Budget and a tent!

Our first PTA meeting of the year was Tuesday night. Our Executive Board All-Stars introduced themselves and encouraged families to reach out as needed. Check out the PTA page on the MS 54 website to see who's who and connect as needed. 

At the meeting we discussed the benefits of having a large, open-sided tent in the flagpole courtyard area to provide sheltered outdoor space for students on their in-person days. Meeting attendees voted to approve a three month tent rental starting from whenever students go back to school. The rental can be extended as needed if school remains open through the winter and spring. It will cost $4800 for the initial three months. 

Additionally, the PTA's 2020-21 Annual Budget was approved and has been posted to the PTA page of the website.

Last Call for PTA Executive Board or SLT Nominees!

We're looking for parents/guardians to join us on the Executive Board in the roles of:
  • Co-Treasurer 
  • Co-Assistant Treasurer (Annual Appeal)
  • Co-Corresponding Secretary
  • Co-Fundraising VP
  • 6th Grade Rep

These are all co-positions where incoming members will be paired with veterans who know the ropes. You can learn more about these roles in the MS54 PTA bylaws here (see page 3).

Additionally, we’re looking for helping hands for non-board, non-elected positions that are nonetheless essential:

  • Online Auction Chair
  • School Store Manager
Our School Leadership Team is also seeking parent nominees to help develop school-based educational policies in collaboration with the administration and teacher SLT members. Learn more about the SLT.

To express interest or nominate someone else, please email: by September 29. Elections will be held at the October 13, 2020, 7pm PTA meeting.

Last Call for Class Parents!

Booker T relies on its Class Parent network to build community, communicate, and support fundraising within each class. Each homeroom needs at least one Class Parent. Since homerooms won't physically be together this year, we are hoping to recruit enough Class Parents to represent each Class Section.  If interested, please complete this Class Parent Interest Form.

SAVE THE DATE! There will be a welcome meeting for all Class Parents on October 6 at 7:00 pm.

Auction Wrap Up
The PTA is working to wrap up loose end's from this spring's Auction. With the Auction ending just as the lockdown began some items were impossible to deliver at the time. If you haven't yet received your auction winnings, please email and we'll track them down as soon as possible!

Neighborhood Food Drives to Continue This Fall

Heartfelt thanks to the families who contributed to the food drive this week. Our neighbors are so grateful. Many are working yet in need, wearing health aide and other essential employee uniforms when they come to our Friday distributions. 

If you can — please donate food on a weekly basis. Or, when you order online, have a portion delivered to MS54.

Donations are accepted from 7:30 am to 5 pm every weekday. You can continue to send food deliveries to MS54 at the West 108th Street entrance. We have now distributed over 400 bags of groceries to the community!

If you are in need of grocery assistance, please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich at 347-563-5156 or

School Store Item Pick Up

Please email Anne McIntosh Pejovich to arrange a time to pick up your School Store Summer Sale orders next week. Your kid will thank you!

There will be additional school store sales online throughout the year so be on the lookout! (And if you'd like to help out with School Store operations, please let us know by emailing!)

DOE Info & Community Updates

The COVID-19 Report Card
On September 24, Governor Cuomo launched the COVID-19 Report Card, an online Dashboard Tracking Real-Time COVID-19 infections and testing operations of every New York School and School District.

Request a DOE Learning Device
The DOE is lending internet-enabled iPads to support remote learning for students. If your family has been sharing devices, or has unstable internet, a DOE iPad could be a big help. Here’s the link to request a device: 

Free + Low Cost Internet Options
The DOE has shared resources for accessing free or low cost internet options:

2020 Census Extended!
A federal judge has ruled that the 2020 Census count will not end early, continuing until the end of October. It is absolutely essential --for fair representation in government and funding for affordable housing, our schools, and hospitals -- that all New Yorkers participate in the Census. Go to or call 844-330-2020 to complete your Census today -- it's fast and confidential. New York City’s future depends on it.

Free Math Tutoring Program from Common Denominator
Common Denominator, formerly known as Top Honors, will offer their FREE math tutoring program virtually for the 2020-2021 school year. They are accepting applications for students who will be enrolled in the 5th-8th grades starting fall 2020.

Free Peer to Peer Tutoring with Homeroom
Homeroom is a free, nationwide, peer to peer tutoring program that began at the start of COVID-19. Since then, they have provided both one on one tutoring and small group classes (3-4 students). Their support is offered for students in grades K-12, in all subjects, and four languages (English, French, Spanish, Chinese). 

Events Calendar

September 28: Yom Kippur, schools closed

September 29: Last day to express interest in joining the PTA Executive Board or the School Leadership Team by emailing:

September 30: Equity Team Meeting @ 7:00 pm
Meeting ID: 960 3801 8829   Passcode: 777805

October 1: First Day of In-Person School

October 2: October Coffee with Dr. Elster @ 8:00 am
Meeting ID: 960 7783 2426   Passcode: 943970

October 6: Welcome meeting for all Class Parents on October 6 @ 7:00 pm

Staying In the Know

While we endeavor to keep you well informed through this newsletter each week, inevitably topics and conversations come up throughout the week.
Join our Facebook group - a private group of parents, teachers, and staff where information is shared and issues of interest to the community are discussed. Once a member of our group, anyone can post and share articles and messages with our school community. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

The website is also an important resource. You'll find calendars, directories, meeting minutes, forms, and information on topics including equity and wellness. It has a fresh new look thanks to parent Yun Joo Shin, and content updates will be rolling out as the school year gets underway.
Amazon Reminder
Before you shop on Amazon, please use this link: or click on the Amazon logo on our website. That way, MS54 gets a percentage of every dollar you spend (at no cost to you!). Thanks, everyone!!
Copyright © 2020 MS54 PTA, All rights reserved.

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