Head of School Update

Building Culture Through Shared Experiences
Evan Glazer

Most us feel connected to groups or a sense of membership, or through special rituals and events. Maybe you think of a community block party, family reunion, friendly competition, activity to gain membership, a parade or march to celebrate a cause. Students in grades K–5 at Avenues take a language pledge in September with a song to ensure they are dedicated to speaking the target language in their classroom as a sacred space. Students in the Upper Division might regard open discussions on Awareness Day and traveling on a Global Journey as very unique attributes of the Avenues community. Parents might say Family Community Day is especially meaningful to emphasize the value of giving, as we bring together students and parents in community service in neighborhoods throughout New York City. There’s so much more I can describe to highlight the unique and connected culture at Avenues, so for now I will emphasize recent developments.

February has been a great month to highlight Avenues culture and community. Valentine’s Day was an opportunity to “share the love” through gratitude for each other. Lower Division students in assembly discussed what it meant to do something nice for others, and also what it means for others to show kindness to them. The story I read, Love, by Matt De La Pena and Loren Long, highlights how love occurs through daily joys people share as well as sacrifices they make to take care of one another. For fun, in addition to sharing Valentine’s cards with each other, students were given a break from uniform and wore pajamas in the Lower Division and were decked out in red and pink in the Upper Division. Special occasions like these contribute to our connected culture.

This month we have also been celebrating the Lunar New Year, also referred as the Spring Festival. The school has been decked out with red lanterns, artifacts shared by teachers and special messages written by students. In Upper Division classes, students explored a variety of traditions, including making dumplings, writing traditional Chinese calligraphy, composing couplets, paper cutting, learning Kung Fu, practicing dragon dance, watching Chinese New Year Gala celebrations, making red envelopes, solving lantern puzzles and much more. Teachers of Chinese language also celebrate the New Year together each year by going to a big feast one day after school.

And then of course this coming weekend is the 2nd annual Ruckus Constructus on February 25, a huge showcase of displays and activities for all grade levels throughout the school. You don’t want to miss out on this special event as students are invited to celebrate innovation and explore, invent, create, learn and play in a mesmerizing assortment of activities. The theme this year is on global climate change, where many exhibits have been developed to showcase essential questions that students have been studying in their classrooms. ELC students have been thinking about their classroom animal habitats, Lower Division students have been thinking classroom name as it interacts with its ecosystem, and Upper Division students have designed activities that directly reflect their club and innovation activities. Ruckus is a great way to not only see what students have been working on this year, but a chance to notice how we support opportunities to connect our school community through learning. Come experience as experts, scientists and makers share their expertise, see the latest in AR, VR & X-box gaming, human movement optimization and sensory activities, and add your mark to climate-themed collaborative artwork.

In order to make this day as special as possible, we encourage you to volunteer your time, even if it's just for an hour – the more the merrier!

As a school only in its sixth year, I’m so pleased we have quite a few activities and events that highlight our sense of community. These activities give students a sense of anticipation, excitement, and pride about what Avenues values, recognizes and celebrates. While we are flexible to various ideas to engrain culture, most importantly, we are vested to make them better. Please don’t hesitate to connect with me to discuss any ideas you have to improve our practices and help us feel more connected, more appreciative, and more supported at Avenues. It is through our uniquely developed and shared experiences we will foster the Avenues DNA and strengthen the commitment we have made to each other and improving our school. Thank you for contributing to our connected culture.

Fly Aviators!