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07.30.21: Mid-Summer Updates


Principal's Letter

Dear Families, 

I hope you and your children are enjoying the summer. Hopefully, your children have had time to unplug, get outside, spend time with friends, and do some reading, too. 

REPORT CARDS. For those of you who are still awaiting report card corrections, please know that I have been in constant communication with the tech team at the DOE and am working on those issues. I have not yet completed the removal of the Regents scores due to another issue with the system. Please be patient. All of these will get done.

FALL INFO. I know that many of you are waiting for news about what school will be like in the fall. So far, the DOE has issued limited guidance. We know that staff members who are not vaccinated will be required to undergo weekly testing, and we also know that masks will be required for all adults and children, even those who are vaccinated. Without any other mandates, I am moving forward and planning for a full and “normal” reopening. I have become skilled at pivoting when necessary, but for now, I will remain optimistic! 

HIRING. I spent a good part of early July interviewing and hiring staff members. Because of teacher shortages last year, I never filled all of the positions I needed. Therefore, I had double hiring to do this summer. I have hired 8 new staff members, rehired a teacher who was at Booker T. for many years, and have a few more candidates in the works. At the end of June, Scott Burrows (chorus,) Liz Goldfarb (librarian,) and Sol Eyzaguirre (paraprofessional) retired. Angela Kaon (science) moved out of state, and Maggie Weinreb (math) decided to pursue a different avenue in the field of math education. 

CLASS SCHEDULES. This week, I have been working with Erica Williams and Andrew Bergen to create the class and teacher schedules for the coming year. Next week we will tackle finalizing elective and language choices and class groupings. Students will get their class assignment no earlier than September 10th. Seventh and eighth graders will find out their language and electives on the first day of classes. 

The weekly schedule for the coming year will be as follows: School will begin at 8:40AM and end at 3:00PM each day. Early Academy (drop-in office hours and intervention) will take place for ALL teachers on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:00AM-8:40AM. The teachers will have their professional development, faculty meetings, and team meetings on Friday mornings. After-school activities will take place Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3:00PM-5:00PM. 

Orientations for all students will be built into the school day during the first week of school. We are very aware of the toll that the last year and a half has taken on many students and are planning accordingly.

PARENT ORIENTATIONS. Orientations for parents will be on Zoom on September 9th at 7:30PM and on September 13th at 7:30PM. See registration links below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

September 9, 2021 @ 7:30PM Eastern Time 
Register in advance for this meeting.

September 13, 2021 @ 7:30PM Eastern Time 
Register in advance for this meeting.

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. The first day of school for students is September 13th. While I know that many of the students have not been in the building before and would like a chance to see it before school begins, we cannot accommodate those requests as the building is closed for construction this summer. All students will get a tour of the building on their first day of school and during the first week. You can also view a tour of the building on our website. 

SUPPLY LISTS AND SUMMER ASSIGNMENTS. Supply lists are posted on the website. While I know the notebook and folder requests are very specific, please try to find these as they will help us ensure that your child remains organized. If you need help obtaining these supplies, I hope you will not hesitate to reach out to Anne McIntosh
 Pejovich, our parent coordinator, at We will be happy to help you.

Students will not need a device (laptop or iPad) in school next year. It will be helpful for them to have a device at home, but we are planning on a full return to paper and pencils. 

The Summer Assignments are also posted the website. Please check in with your child to see that they are completing the summer reading.

I will continue to keep you abreast of the plans for the coming year. 

Elana Elster 

If you like connecting with others and don't mind sending out emails, then join us on the PTA team! If you have any questions:
Please help us spread the word to have families fill out the New Student Form. This way, folks will won't miss out on MS54 news.  
August 4, 2021 @ 6:30pm
Let's meet up for some outdoor mini-golf! What better time to go out as a 54 group — all grades welcome — and play some putt-putt.
Cost: $5 for one round of golf. For financial assistance, please email:
August 7, 2021 @ 7:00pm
We'll join the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York as they lead folks through peering through telescopes to see the stars. And, we'll also make bubbles. Because, well, who doesn't love bubbles?! Please email with any questions!
Help a family in need get a great start to the school year! At least ten MS54 families have told us that their children need school supplies. Can you purchase an entire backpack of supplies for a child? We have a deluxe version and a regular version. Staples and Target have amazing summer sales on school supplies and backpacks, too!
Note: Deliveries to the school can only be accepted AFTER August 30th. The school is closed before then and your shipments will be returned. 
Save the date:  September 2, 2021
She's back! MS54 parent alum Dr. Vijayeta Sinh will share her insights into reducing anxiety with two workshops: one in the morning for students on calming practices for returning to school, and one in the evening for parents on resilience and re-evaluating what wellness and success mean in light of the pandemic.
September 21, 2021 @ 7:00pm
Please join us as we host the first PTA general meeting of the year. We'll have time after the official end time to linger and socialize, so please tell a fellow family to come, too!
September 23, 2021 @ 8am
Bring your coffee — and get your questions answered!
Ms. Bailey is going on her 9th year at MS 54.
Ms. Cohen, our 7th grade Humanities/ELA teacher, announced last month that she's now engaged. Another addition to her home is a 10-month-old golden retriever named Maya. Woof!
Ms. Perez is taking a class on autism and is going on her 12th year at the school. 
If you loved your high school prom — and you were on the prom committee or wished you had been, please email for an amazing volunteer opportunity.

How's it going, Booker T. community? You're not alone. Everyone is going through something. We care about you! The below resources are from the NYCDOE Family Healing Ambassadors training sessions.

Here are the first two video recordings of the Family Healing Ambassador training sessions offered by the NYCDOE Family and Community Wellness Collective (FCWC). These were excellent sessions.

Please contact with any thoughts or questions you may have. Come share and learn more at the first Wellness Committee meeting on Thursday, September 23, 2021 at 8:00pm by Zoom!

I'm honored to be your Family Healing Ambassador.

Alison Gardy, MS54 Wellness Lead

DOE Info & Community Updates

New items are listed below. To see previously listed but still active notices, please see the DOE Info and Community Updates page on the MS54 website.

DOE UPDATE: NYC Students can access digital books FREE
Every student in our NYC Public Schools has access to the SORA eBook platform, which has a diverse and inclusive collection of titles. The NYC Department of Library Services/NYC School Library System team has developed a student and educator facing page that provides a better overview of the collection they curated on Sora. Check out the collection at the Citywide Digital Library. There are over 19,000 unique titles with hundreds of thousands of copies and Sora can be linked directly to the public library systems.
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