Dear P.S. 183 Families,

It always amazes me how fast the year is going when another month ends and a new one begins, yet, here we are, welcoming December.


This past week, I attended the December Principal’s conference at Teachers College, Columbia. The key note speaker, Lisa Damour, author of the book, Untangled:  Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, shared some of her latest research on helping children build resiliency and deal with stress and anxiety.  I thought it was a poignant topic as students build up a lot of stress around holidays and of course, the upcoming test prep season (starting around February).  She offered some ways for students to deal with and recover from stressful situations.  The first is for students to have a growth mindset – being able to see difficult situations as ways to learn and grow.  Situations CAN change.  They are not fixed.  The second is peer relationships.  Students need positive peer groups as a source of support during trouble.  Playdates and participation in outside groups helps children form bonds with classmates. Third, students need 9-11 hours of sleep a night.  Sleep is the best way for your body to reset after stressful situations.  Additionally, students need coping strategies.  What does one do when faced with a stressful day?  How does one wind down?  Ms. Damour asked us the question, what would you do for three hours if you didn’t have a care or worry in the world.  That’s an interesting question to pose to our students.


Here at 183, our staff is working on building mindfulness into our curriculum.  On December 18th, we have the group, Quiet the Noise coming to work with our staff on how to incorporate different techniques into the classroom, throughout the regular school day to help children stop and take stock of their day.  In addition, we have two speakers coming to our PTA meeting to provide you, our families, with information about helping children cope with stress and anxiety as well as share insights on helping children develop mindful habits with regards to technology.  On January 18th, Dr. Mike Fraser will speak about helping children navigate the world of technology.  On March 15th, Dr. Michelle Gallietta will present at the PTA meeting on how to help children deal with stress when it comes to state testing.   


For December, our book of the month is What Do You Do with a Problem? This lovely book, written by Kobi Yamada, not only has a valuable lesson for children on resiliency, but offers timeless and ageless advice, “My problem held an opportunity!  It was an opportunity for me to learn and to grow.  To be brave.  To do something.”  The book offers wonderful opportunities to share with your child how you handle problems, and reinforce the message that problems are chances to learn and grow.  If you get a chance to read the book with your child, I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.  


In construction news, the latest report I have to share is that the actual physical work on the building’s façade is expected to be complete by the end of December.  However, once the physical work is complete, we will still need to make sure the building passes all of the post-construction inspections before any scaffolding can be removed from the building.  While I know this is a stressful issue for our community, it is important to make sure all the construction work is complete and done safely, with respect to building code, before the scaffolding is removed.


On a more positive note, our school was nominated by the New York State Department of Education, to apply for the United States Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon School honor.  Each year, the US Department of Education recognizes and honors a small number of schools across the entire United States for their work in helping students achieve proficiency in ELA and Math.  This is an honor for our staff and school community.  Starting in January, we will begin to complete the application in anticipation of the March deadline.  Last year, 342 schools across the US were recognized.  I will keep you posted on our application status.  


The next letter from me will come in the New Year.  Here’s wishing you and your family a joyous holiday season and a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.  





December, 2017 – Martin Woodard