November 1, 2016

Dear Parent/Guardian and Student,

As we head into the holidays and the gift of giving is upon us, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to take part in supporting our local food pantry.  The holidays are a challenging time for many households in New York City, and many of our neighbors will turn to food pantries and soup kitchens in search of a helping hand in the coming months.  Supporting the New Utrecht Food Pantry will be vital to ensuring that our neighbors are able to eat each week.

We will be joining in with other schools and community organizations around the city to reach the goal of collecting food.  Items collected will help shelve our local food pantry for the holidays this year, and help feed our local New Yorkers facing hunger.  We will be collecting donations of non-perishable foods (i.e., pasta, cereal, canned goods, etc.) and will run our Food Drive from November 7, 2016 to November 23, 2016. 

In addition, donations of non-perishables will be collected upon entry to our Fall Ball dance to be held on November 17, 2016 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Your generosity and support are greatly appreciated as we celebrate the gift of giving as a school community. 

Respectfully yours,                                                                                                   

Maria Bender

Principal

 

October 24, 2016

 

 

Dear Parents and Students,

 

            As you know, one star student from each class is selected by our staff as the Student of the Month.  This process is based upon how well those students perform, either academically or socially, within the halls of Cavallaro.  We would like to extend this monthly honor to our staff members as well in recognition of their contributions.  Therefore, we would like to institute a “VIP of the Month.”    Our students will have the opportunity to nominate a Cavallaro staff member who has made a positive impact on them that month. 

 

            The nominee should be someone who made you feel special, guided you in the right direction or supported you in a difficult situation (i.e. Teacher/Paraprofessional, Administrator Staff, Support Staff, Cafeteria Staff or Security). 

 

            Any student or parent who feels inclined to nominate an adult in the building should fill out the form located on the back of this letter.  The nomination form should then be submitted to your grade Assistant Principal by the end of each month.  The administrative cabinet will meet to read through the nomination letters and select that month’s VIP, one from each grade.  Once chosen, our VIP of the Month will be honored during our Student of the Month breakfast. 

 

            Please keep in mind the written statement that you provide in the nomination should explain the positive impact that particular staff member had on you, and why you feel they should be chosen as VIP of the Month.  This serves as a beautiful way to highlight the tremendous impact staff members have on the children of Cavallaro each and every day.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Maria Bender

Principal

 

 
September 14, 2016

Dear Parents/Guardians,

            This school year, the staff of I.S. 281 are proud to extend a very special invitation to all of our Cavallaro families.  On Thursday, September 15, 2016, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, we welcome you to join us for a Parent Meet and Greet.  The administrators and teaching staff of Cavallaro will present an informative evening to the families of our students, where they will introduce themselves and give you an overview of the expectations of the 2016-2017 school year. We are very excited to have the chance to meet our incoming 6th grade families and welcome back our 7th and 8th grade families.  We will offer you the opportunity to visit the classroom that your children will be learning in each day and have some one-on-one time with their teachers. 

 

            The schedule for the evening will run in 20 minute intervals.  You have the opportunity to sit and visit with each of your child’s subject teachers after a brief presentation.  Please see the outline below.

 

Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

English:                  Room 334

Mathematics:          Room 328

Social Studies:        Room 323

Science:                  Room 309

English:                  Room 234

Mathematics:          Room 227

Social Studies:        Room 212

Science:                  Room 214

English:                  Room 212

Mathematics:          Room 206

Social Studies:        Room 208

Science:                  Room 209

 

Talent

Physical Education

Dual Language

Art                           Room 108

Dance                      Room B22

Vocal Music            Room 407

Instrumental Music Room 409

S.T.E.M. Math        Room 339

S.T.E.M. Tech         Room 346

S.T.E.M. Science    Room 112

Grade 6:       Room 154 & 156

 

Grade 7:       Room 154 & 156

 

Grade 8:       Room 154 & 156

DL Spanish:            Room 113

 

DL Mandarin:         Room 123

 

            You may visit subject, talent, physical education and dual language teachers.  If you see that a room is too crowded for the first session, move on to a different room.  An announcement will be made in 20 minute intervals to make your way to the next group.

 

            In addition, our Parent Coordinator, PTA, Guidance Department, School Assessment Team and Health Clinic will be set up in the auditorium for questions.

 

            I encourage you to take the time to come out tomorrow evening to join us in our “Welcome Back” evening.  We look forward to seeing you.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Maria Bender

Principal

September 8, 2016

Dear Parents and Students,

Welcome to a new school year! It is with great pride and pleasure that I welcome back our 7th and 8th grade students, as well as open our doors to this year’s incoming 6th grade students.  As Principal of Joseph B. Cavallaro I.S. 281, it is my hope that together we will provide each student with a nurturing and educationally challenging school year.  Please join us in setting high standards of excellence and expectations for each and every child aligned to the Chancellor’s Framework for Great Schools, with an emphasis on College and Career Readiness. 

Our mission statement reads, “As the magnet school for STEAM, we at Joseph B. Cavallaro will provide every child with the support to grow intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally. In an advanced inquiry based learning environment, we will serve as leaders for the 21st Century, in both technology and the arts.”  As a school that prides itself on offering their student’s an educationally and culturally rich environment, it will be our goal to continue forward in that direction.  This year’s Instructional Focus reads, “Students will be provided with classroom instruction that meets the needs of the individual learner through tiered differentiation and scaffolding, as determined by formative and summative assessments.”    

In partnership with the entire school community, it is my vision to provide every child with a safe, nurturing and educationally equitable learning environment complete with a rigorously challenging curriculum setting all students on the road to college and career readiness.  If together we hold true to the values of equity, integrity, communication, perseverance and trust, it will ultimately permeate into the hearts and minds of our students through our example.  Please feel free to join us in the many events we hold throughout the year.  Thus, our mission of preparing each and every child on a successful path will be attained with your involvement.  I look forward to a promising school year.

Sincerely,

 

 

Maria Bender

 
 
June 28, 2016

Dearest Teachers, Parents and Students,

            As the school year comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on all that we have accomplished as a school community since September.  We began the 2015-16 school year together with a feeling of excitement.  Our school wide Instructional Focus was posted around the building reading, “Students will be provided with planned coherent instruction that is data driven and differentiated, resulting in increased academic vocabulary and student engagement in learning.”  I thought to myself, this is a very challenging goal because it takes the cooperation of both…the teacher in planning inquiry-based differentiated lessons and the student in having enough self-confidence to come out of one’s own comfort zone and engage oneself in learning.

            With the use of last year’s “sentence starters” in many of your classes, providing each of you with a way to engage in meaningful discussion, the individual analysis using the I-ready program was the next step. As the year progressed, a transformation of learning was taking place in Cavallaro.  I walked into classrooms where your lessons were formulating based upon I-ready data pertaining to individual student skills. You were then able to make your learning visible by sharing your own opinions about topics pertaining to democratic societies, mathematical engineering and scientific predictions, and backing them up with facts.  I listened as you described an author’s purpose in writing a specific piece, as well as the strategy they used to get that message across.  I admired the fact that our teachers guided you to ask one another questions, lean on each other for information and support one another’s learning.  It became evident that you were taking individual ownership of your learning through expression, and as a result, you were becoming each other’s educators with the support of your teachers. You advanced yourself through the I-ready program, increasing your skill-base along the way.

             The development of your writing continued to radiate using the assessment of your peers. Whether through the precise framework of argumentative or informative essay writing, or the free expression within your reflections, I saw written pieces exhibiting purpose, clarity and rigor; expressing thoughts, ideas and beliefs and backing those thoughts up with clear evidence of support.  I walked through the halls beaming at the awareness of how far you have come in one short year, and where this will take you in the years to come.  I believe you are on a clear path towards college and careers.

            I credit this awareness to your dedicated hardworking teachers, as well as the support staff here at Cavallaro, each working towards the same goal; to ensure that our entire student population of 1,172 was successfully learning in a safe and healthy environment.  But the transformation of learning would never have been possible without each of you and the support of your parents.  I had the rare privilege of leading a school of students who were willing to open their minds and trust their peers creating a true learning environment; whose unique qualities and determined voices flourished throughout the year.

            In closing, I can confidently attest that we achieved our Instructional Goal as a school community, and will continue on the path of increasing academic vocabulary.  I would like to thank everyone for making this a successful year at Cavallaro.  I will miss our outgoing 8th graders, whose genuine ability to support one another and laugh was an inspiration.  I look forward to the future, where our focus is not only on the education of the mind – but of the entire body.  I consistently say this throughout the year, but it truly does come from my heart - I am so proud to be your Principal. Thank you and have a safe and relaxing summer.

Educationally yours,

Ms. Maria Bender

Principal, Joseph B. Cavallaro I.S. 281

 

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the

highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

John F. Kennedy

 
 
 
February 29, 2016
Dear Parents and Guardians,

We are moving into March, which is Women's History Month and National Reading Awareness Month.  To celebrate as a school, we are going to ask each student to complete a special project.  Through our talent classes, this assignment will require your child to research a woman who made a historical impact in the area of mathematics, science/engineering, computer technology, dance, art, instrumental music or vocal music.  Your child's talent teacher will provide more information regarding this project, which will be reflected on their 3rd marking period talent grade.
 
Literacy through the arts is an important ideal; what better way to acknowledge this then by highlighting the achievements of women throughout history.  If you have any questions please contact your child's Assistant Principal.
 

Sincerely,
 
Maria Bender, Principal
 
 
 
February 22, 2016

On Thursday, February 11, 2016, we had the pleasure of participating in an inspirational assembly facilitated by Richard Specht.  Mr. Specht shared the dreadful story of how his 22 month old son, Rees, passed away during Hurricane Sandy.  This tragic loss led to the creation of The Rees - Specht LIFE Foundation: Cultivating Kindness One Piece At A Time.  This foundation is dedicated to cultivating kindness and teaching both children and adults how important community, kindness, and respect are.

Richard Specht’s powerful presentation challenged our students to think a little bit about how they see the world and what their part is in the grand scheme of things.  He demonstrated to all participants that their actions, either good or bad, can have powerful consequences on the lives of others.  He amazed our students with how a simple change in their point of view or a humble act of kindness can create a chain reaction to change the world one person at a time.  Our staff and students were each given a “Pay it Forward” card to cultivate kindness and promise to perform a random act of kindness and be one of Ress’ pieces.

 

Click to view comments posted by Richard Specht:  Comment 1 Comment 2

Click to view pictures from the presentation:  Picture 1  Picture 2  Picture 3  Picture 4
 
Click to view the brochure:  Page 1 Page 2

 

 
 
January 19, 2016

To Parents and Guardians:

I am pleased to announce that we were awarded $15,000 from Senator Diane Savino in partnership with Project Boost.  The money will be used as an incentive program to reward outstanding student performance in various areas of their daily school lives.  Senator Savino’s goal is to engage students, staff and parents in enriching activities and cultural events to raise awareness and celebrate our school community.

We will begin by rewarding those students who have maintained 100% attendance throughout the first half of the school year.  Five students from each grade will be chosen through a lottery process to attend a 2:00 p.m. viewing of the Broadway Musical “Aladdin” on Saturday, February 6, 2016 with one family member.  In addition, five staff members with perfect attendance will also be chosen via lottery to attend with those families.

Secondly, we will be rewarding a full class of students who have achieved 100% Pupilpath registration.  By February 10, 2016, each class that has 100% of their students and parents registered for Pupilpath will be put into a lottery.  One class will be chosen to go on a class trip to attend a 2:00 p.m. viewing of the Broadway Musical, “The Lion King” on Saturday,     March 5, 2016.

Thirdly, we will be rewarding our students who made Platinum Honor Roll in the third making period.  Their names will go into a lottery and ten students will be chosen to attend a 3:00 p.m. viewing of the Broadway Musical “Wicked” on Sunday, April 10, 2016 with a parent/guardian.

Finally, we will be rewarding students who made significant gains from the second marking period to the third marking period.  Any student who increases their cumulative grade point average 5 or more points will have their names placed in a lottery to be chosen to see a Mets or Yankee’s game. (total number and date to be announced).

As a school community, we must thank Senator Savino for this wonderful opportunity to enrich the lives of our Cavallaro families and celebrate the values we hold true in education.  

 

Sincerely,

Maria Bender, Principal

 

January 19, 2016

Dear Parent/Guardian,

 

I hope the New Year finds you and your loved ones in good health and happiness.  As we move into the third marking period, I wanted to bring to your attention a slight change in our grading policy.  As you know, student assessments are worth 60%, student homework is worth 20% and student engagement is also worth 20%.  That part of the grading policy remains the same.  However, in an effort to instill in our students the importance of homework, each graded homework will be worth more.  In addition, late homework’s will only be accepted up to a week after their assigned date and 10 points will be deducted for each day late.  Homework is such a valuable learning tool, because it reinforces the day’s work.  When it is not done timely and consistently, it loses its positive effects on a child’s knowledge base.

We have also decided to slightly change our Principal’s Honor Roll criteria.  For the third marking period, we will be acknowledging the following:

     Platinum Honor Roll -  cumulative average 95-100.00

                                           minimum grade 90

     Gold Honor Roll       -  cumulative average 90-94.99

                                           minimum grade 85

     Silver Honor Roll      -  cumulative average 85-89.99

                                           minimum grade 80

Of course, there can be no conduct grades of N or U for each of these awards.  A special certificate will be given to each child who attains Principal’s Honor Roll.  We look forward to recognizing your child’s academic achievements.

 

Sincerely,

Maria Bender, Principal

 

November 2015

Dear Parents,

As educators we are all aware of the importance and benefits of reading in general.  Many studies show that students who read consistently are more likely to do well in school.  Reading affects all other subjects.  If a student struggles to read, they will have difficulty grasping the math, science, and social studies concepts.  Reading well and often enriches students’ speech and communication skills, vocabulary, general knowledge, logical thinking, understanding of abstract concepts and enhances concentration and memory as well as provides a rich avenue for cultural life and leisure.

This is why the Chancellor is excited to launch her NYC Reads 365 initiative, a citywide initiative to promote reading every day – in school and out.  All of us, administrators, educators and families can play an important role in helping our students become and stay interested in books and reading.

We want more than anything for our students to see reading as vital to their day-to-day lives.  We want them to experience reading as positive, fun and key to their independence as learners.  For these reasons, this initiative includes:

  • Design and distribution of motivating posters, personalized for each borough, to encourage all NYC students to read 365 days a year (these are enclosed)

  • PK-12 grade level annotated reading lists

  • PK-12 bookmarks for students

  • Pamphlets and resources for schools and families

  • Social media campaign (#NYCReads365)

Let’s all do our part to make sure that our children are exposed to reading every day and that we give them daily opportunity to choose the books they want to read.

Focus your work at home to develop your child as a reader at home.  A strong family-school partnership for reading will send our students a strong message.

Books have the power to support learning and development in a myriad of ways.  Reading is one of the most important things we can do to build and nurture a foundation for academic excellence and civic responsibility.  Attached is a bookmark provided by Chancellor Fariña’s office with a list of recommended reading.  Please take the time to review this with your child.

Sincerely,

Ms. Bender, Principal

 
 
 
September 18, 2015

Dear Parent or Guardian,

We are pleased to announce our school is launching a groundbreaking digital communication and well-being system to ensure a safe learning environment for all students. The Bridg-it School system is a user-friendly program that allows students, school staff and parents/guardians to report and resolve any instances of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, violence and/or inappropriate behavior to school administration using any web-enabled device. You will still be able to make reports to your school by phone, email, or in person.

Bridg-it follows a comprehensive Report, Review, and Resolve process to address community conflict. The result is more positive communication, more effective responses and safer communities.

Bridg-it keeps all reports confidential. Only certain designated school administrators (referred to as Moderators) will know the identities of those submitting incident reports and may not share that information with other students or parents. This system improves communication and gets help to those who need it quickly – reducing harm and notifying those who can help.

We encourage parents and guardians to create accounts and use Bridg-it School to notify the school of any harassment or harmful behavior. By creating an account you will also be able to receive notifications from school via email and/or text message. To create your account, go to this link, https://goo.gl/Pu71Lq  and complete the form. Soon after you will receive an activation email prompting you to create a password and log in. Your username is your email address. If you do not have an email address, you can create one for free at Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, or Yahoo.

As parents and guardians, you play a large role in helping us guide students in appropriate behavior and how to relate with others. We need your help to understand any difficulties that your child and others may have at school. Please take a few minutes to complete this Parent Survey at [LINK] so that we can benefit from your feedback and make the necessary changes to increase school safety and student well-being.  

We believe the Bridg-it School system will discourage unwelcome behavior in school, teach students healthy ways to resolve conflicts, encourage students and staff to help and support classmates who may be targeted, keep parents informed and assist in creating a safe and pleasant learning environment for all students.

 Sincerely,

 Maria Bender, Principal


September 18, 2015

Dear Parent or Guardian,

The Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) were approved by the New York State Board of Regents in January 2011 for all schools and districts that serve students enrolled in Grades K–12. The adoption of the CCLS stressed the need for us to shift instruction to prepare your child in accordance with these new, rigorous standards. In order to best assess student learning of the CCLS, the Department of Education developed new Common Core English Language Arts and Mathematics State Tests.
One of the mandates of the Math State Test is that all students in grades 6-8 are required to use a scientific calculator in Books 2 and 3 of the Exam.   In an effort to provide your child with high quality instruction of these rigorous learning standards, it is necessary to utilize a scientific calculator in daily lessons throughout the school year. 

Keeping this in mind, we are requiring that all students purchase or rent a scientific calculator for daily use in their math class, as well as use at home for daily homework and assignments.  TI-34 Multi-view Scientific calculators can be purchased from any store such as Staples, Best Buy or the like for approximately $20-$30.  If you would like the school to provide your child with a calculator to utilize, they will have to fill out a calculator receipt and be responsible for safe keeping and return at the end of the school year.  Please be advised, the fee to replace a lost or damaged school supplied calculator is $20, as we are treating it just as we would a textbook.

The more familiar your child becomes with using a calculator, the easier it will be to complete tasks and assessments that reflect the rigors of the CCLS.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the school.  Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

 Maria Bender, Principal


September 11, 2015        

Dear Parents/Guardians,

This school year, the staff of I.S. 281 are proud to extend a very special invitation to all of our Cavallaro families.  On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, we welcome you to join us for a Parent Meet and Greet.  The administrators and teaching staff of Cavallaro will present a very informative evening to the families of our students, where they will introduce themselves and give you an overview of the expectations of the 2015-2016 school year. We will offer you the opportunity to visit the classrooms that your children will be learning in each day and have some one-on-one time with their teachers. 

We are very excited to have the chance to meet our incoming 6th grade families and welcome back our 7th and 8th grade families.  You will also have the opportunity to purchase school uniforms and attend a Bridgit Workshop.  Bridgit is our new online anti-bullying reporting system.  The training will be held during 3 half hour sessions in room 339.

I encourage you to take the time to come out Wednesday evening to join us in our "Welcome Back" evening.  We look forward to seeing you.

Sincerely,

Maria Bender

Principal

June 26, 2015

Dearest Teachers, Parents and Students,

            As the school year comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on all that we have accomplished as a school community since September.  We began the 2014-15 school year together with a feeling of excitement and a little anxiety in looking at all that lie ahead.  Our new school wide Instructional Focus was posted around the building reading, “Students will engage in productive discussions through the use of core knowledge, quality questioning and the utilization of peer assessment as they progress towards meeting the benchmarks for college and career readiness.”  I thought to myself, this is a very challenging goal because it takes the cooperation of both…the teacher in planning inquiry-based questions and the student in having enough self-confidence to come out of one’s own comfort zone and engage oneself in learning.

            This new focus led to the inception of “sentence starters” in many of your classes, providing each of you with a way to engage in meaningful discussion. As the year progressed, a transformation of learning was taking place in Cavallaro, and that transformation was happening right before my eyes.  I walked into classrooms where you were formulating your own opinions about topics pertaining to democratic societies, mathematical engineering and scientific predictions, and backing them up with facts.  I listened as you described an author’s purpose in writing a specific piece, as well as the strategy they used to get that message across.  I heard you saying, “I would like to add to…I disagree/agree because…I believe…”  I admired the fact that our teachers guided you to ask one another questions, lean on each other for information and support one another’s learning.  It became evident that you were each beginning to take ownership of your learning through expression…you found your voice…you were becoming each other’s educators with the support of your teachers.

             Then the development of your writing began to radiate using the assessment of your peers. Whether through the precise framework of argumentative or informative essay writing, or the free expression within your reflection journals, I began seeing written pieces exhibiting purpose, clarity and rigor; expressing thoughts, ideas and beliefs and backing those thoughts up with clear evidence of support.  I walked through the halls beaming at the awareness of how far you have come in one short year, and where this will take you in the years to come.  I believe you are on a clear path towards college and careers. 

            I credit this awareness to your dedicated hardworking teachers, as well as the support staff here at Cavallaro, each working towards the same goal; to ensure that our entire student population of 1,186 was successfully learning in a safe and healthy environment.  But the transformation of learning would never have been possible without each of you and the support of your parents.  I had the rare privilege of leading a school of students who were willing to open their minds and trust their peers creating a true learning environment; whose unique qualities and determined voices flourished throughout the year.

            In closing, I can confidently attest that we achieved our Instructional Goal as a school community.  I would like to thank everyone for making this a successful year at Cavallaro.  I will miss our outgoing 8th graders, whose genuine ability to support one another and laugh was an inspiration.  I look forward to the future, where our focus is not only on the education of the mind – but of the entire body.  I consistently say this throughout the year, but it truly does come from my heart - I am so proud to be your Principal. Thank you and have a safe and relaxing summer.

Educationally yours,

Ms. Maria Bender

Principal, Joseph B. Cavallaro I.S. 281

 

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them”

John F. Kennedy

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