Welcome, February! We look forward to two uninterrupted weeks of instruction before the February break. This week’s newsletter contains a lot of important information. Thank you for taking the time to read thoroughly; the next paragraph of my letter includes a high level summary of the content.
This week’s newsletter contains information on how we are celebrating Black History month at Janney; updated information on our upcoming Community Night inFebruary which will focus on security at Janney with an included link to JAC sign-up; a column about upcoming student personal safety lessons from Cydney Lewis, school Counselor, who will be writing the Student Support Services columns for the month of February; an announcement from the student council about an upcoming fundraiser; and finally, an announcement from DCPS regarding Head Start funding for Early Childhood Education – please note that this will not impact Janney.
Black History Month @ Janney
February is Black History Month and we want to share the ways that our community is honoring black history and celebrating this month. To kick off the month, we will join other schools across the city and the nation in celebrating Black Lives Matter at School week from February 3-7. The goal of the Black Lives Matter Week of Action at Schools is to spark an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversations in school communities for people of all ages to engage with critical issues of social justice. It is our duty as educators and community members to civically engage students and build their empathy, collaboration, and agency so they are able to thrive. Students must learn to examine, address, and grapple with issues of racism and discrimination that persist in their lives and communities. At Janney Elementary School, we have embraced this opportunity and have worked together to ensure that the experiences we provide our students are developmentally appropriate and considerate of the complexity of the issues.
We want every child to know that they are valued and important in our world despite messages, bold and subtle, to the contrary. Our staff works thoughtfully to strengthen each student’s sense of belonging to their classroom and our school community. Through this work we are honoring our values, ensuring that a diverse group of students achieve their potential as accomplished learners and respectful, thoughtful citizens. More information on how your child’s class and grade level is celebrating this week is included in their class newsletters. You will see a large banner displayed in the atrium that will serve as a visual representation of our students’ learning and as a reminder of the importance of this work. Stop by the atrium this week to see our learning and sharing grow!
We will host our annual Read-In during the week of February 10-14 and celebrate black authors by hosting guest readers throughout the week. Your child’s teacher should have sent out a sign-up to schedule these opportunities and should have also provided some guidance on topic and book selection. This year, we are making an effort to choose authors or topics that align to a grade-level content or unit of study. To kick off our Read-In week, we will host the Go-Go Band, L.I.T. (Live in Treble) on Monday, February 10. L.I.T will kick off our morning by playing in the atrium during arrival and then will perform for our students during a morning assembly. Students will learn about the history of Go-Go music and be treated to more live music.
We look forward to an exciting month of learning, celebrating, and reflecting!
Update: Community Night: February 5th @ 6pm
Our February Community Night will focus on the broader theme of security and how we work together to ensure that all adults and children feel safe at Janney while also ensuring that everyone feels welcome. We will begin the evening with a presentation from Denise Lisi DeRosa on Parenting Advice in the Digital Age. Please see the previous newsletters for more information. If you have specific questions or issues that you’d like Denise to address, please complete this short form. The second portion of the evening will be facilitated by Janney administrators and will dive deeper into how we work to create a safe physical space for all adults and children while also ensuring that everyone feels welcome. We will discuss arrival/dismissal procedures, monthly safety drills, opportunities for adult training, communication with families, and instances of racial profiling that have occurred at Janney. I will share all presented materials with families following the event, but we strongly encourage adults to attend this evening. Update: Please note that we will not discuss JAC arrival or dismissal procedures, student discipline, or other neighborhood safety issues such as cross walks outside of the Janney block. JAC will provide childcare; please ensure that you have signed-up for JAC prior to the event by completing this form.
Student Support Services Column
We are launching a Personal Safety initiative in grades K-5 wherein each grade will participate in lessons covering 17 standards; these lessons will take place between winter and spring breaks. Topics to be addressed include: stranger safety/internet safety, unsafe requests, safe touch and harassment.
Mostly, the material is presented through storybooks and class discussions. Lessons will look a little different in each grade, but all standards will be covered.
Following is the list of standards:
Who is a stranger?
Understand that a stranger is someone you don’t know
Identify safe adults in unfamiliar or unsafe situations
Recognize that internet access should include adult supervision/ everyone online is a stranger
Acknowledge that personal information should not be given out (online)
Know that strangers should ask adults for help (not children)
Understand that adults should never ask children to keep secrets from parents
Learn that family emergencies should be verified
Recognize that adults orchildren can ask children to participate in unsafe/ unwanted activities (we teach the students to handle both situations)
Acknowledge that safe adults never mind if you say NO
Safe/ unsafe touch
Distinguish appropriate and inappropriate affection
Recognize that only people whose job it is to keep you clean and healthy should touch you in your bathing suit area (parent/ guardian, doctor)
Understand that you have a right to privacy and respect when it comes to your body
Recognize the difference between safe/ unsafe touch
Understand you have the right to say NO
Acknowledge that you have the right to assert yourself with authority figures who are trying to hurt you
Learn to trust your instincts
Understand that unwelcome comments about your body or ability are never okay.
Who is a stranger? With the older students when we ask the question, “who is a stranger?” the response is very often: “a stranger is a man in a van.” But simply: a stranger is someone we don’t know. Online, this means everyone is a stranger! Personal information such as name, age and address should never be given out online without parent supervision.
When is it okay to speak with a stranger? It’s okay to speak to a stranger when you feel unsafe and need the help of an adult. Who is a safe, unknown adult? We teach students that safe adults are people who are behind a counter in stores or museums, usually in a uniform and often with a nametag. Much of the published literature about stranger safety teaches that mothers with children are safe adults; we tell the students that parents with children are safe adults.
In next week’s newsletter we’ll preview some of the ways we teach the students to recognize and handle unsafe requests. In the meantime, please set aside some time to speak with your children at home about these topics. The research shows that when parents and caregivers have communicated safety rules and expectations clearly, instances of abuse decline.
Janney Student Council
Student Council News: Bake Sale for Australian Animals Next Week!
Thanks so much to the families that have donated to the JUST TRYAN IT fundraiser. We are currently at almost $3,000 counting all but a few classes!
The Student Council is having a bake sale to help support the people and wildlife affected by the Australian wildfires. Any family may donate baked goods, but we are hoping many students in grades 4-5 will donate a homemade treat for the sale. This fundraiser will take place after school on Thursday and Friday, February 13-14, either outside or in the atrium. The table will be run by the student council officers, class representatives, and alternates.
Thanks for your support and hope to see you there!
Luke Voss, Student Council Secretary
Head Start Funding Update
I have attached a message from DC Public Schools Deputy Chancellor Dr. Melissa Kim providing an important update for the district’s early childhood education. Please note that Janney Elementary School/Education Campus is not a recipient of Head Start funding, so our early learning programming will not be impacted by any changes to the grant award. The number of Pre-K classrooms we offer will remain the same.
Fridays – 5th grade