Elysian Charter School of Hoboken
Elysian Charter School of Hoboken
www.ecsnj.org friendsofelysian.org
Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director
Elysian Charter School
Weekly Newsletter

A Positively Different Public School

September 28, 2015         Vol. 11  Issue 3
Please note that the school newsletter is sent out on Mondays.  When there is a holiday, the newsletter is sent the following day.  Please send news to lynne.shapiro@ecsnj.org by 1:00 PM on Mondays.

The weekly newsletter is archived on Elysian's website, www.ecsnj.org, so that you can always access both the most recent newsletter as well as all previous ones.
Harry's Corner
This week’s column is written by Pamela Strell.  Pamela is a long time Elysian parent and currently a member of the Elysian Board of Trustees.
If you as a parent had the freedom to select the type of school you would want your child to attend, instead of going where the lottery got you, would you select a school with a progressive style of education like Elysian Charter School?  Do you know what progressive education is and why this model differs from others?
Having been a parent at Elysian Charter School since 2005, I thought I actually knew.  In my mind, Elysian focused on a whole learning approach where all of the subjects being taught overlapped. I used to try to explain to my “progressive skeptical” family members with an example-if the class were studying architecture, all lessons related to architecture.  Many times that was, in fact, true.  In second grade, my oldest son would walk weekly with his teacher Catlin along with his eager classmates to meet with the construction manager at the W Hotel and learn of the weekly progress in construction. They followed it from the ground to completion.  The architecture theme brought them to The Empire State Building and had them sketching the skyline.  Lego building in class would also be tied in, as would math and science. (I wasn’t always sure that was true but it sounded good and it quieted my family down)!
Not until August 26th, 2015 did I actually have a clue what “progressive” actually means!
An alliance was formed among the charter schools of Hoboken and Jersey City and their first event took place last month at St. Peter’s University.  Alfie Kohn, one of the most outspoken and passionate educators of the progressive movement was the speaker.  Many teachers from our school, as well as others in the alliance, attended.  Harry invited 2 board members to attend and Ashley Depascale-Lore and I were fortunate enough to have had the opportunity.
Please allow me a shot at compiling a list with some of what we learned. It was inspiring and confirming and made me so grateful to have my children enrolled at Elysian Charter School. 
Progressive education nourishes in kids a desire to learn.
Progressive education is generally against the use of grades to measure performance because there are more meaningful ways to communicate (as you have experienced when you have read the narratives written by your children’s’ teachers at Elysian—Kindergarten parents, stay tuned-you will see)!
Progressive education’s main focus is on deep understanding—in a context and for a purpose.  Children learn things by doing interesting things, not by learning skills and then doing activities.
Progressive education believes there is a difference between right answers and helping kids to learn ways of finding answers. 
The Progressive model believes that humans are not computers to be programmed.  We start life developing theories about how the world works. Constructing meaning around concepts is learning.  Creating meaning is a core concept of the progressive model.
Progressive education believes that community building, collaboration and multi-age interaction is vital. Teachers in progressive schools cultivate an environment where they feel like every kid is their kid.
A truly progressive curriculum is organized around problems, projects and questions.  A well known educator, James Beane devised- “what questions do I have about the world? What questions do I have about myself?”  When all the kids offer their answer, a theme emerges.  This becomes the curriculum. It is interdisciplinary.
Progressive education believes that silent and orderly environments and mindless obedience do not make independent decision makers.  The opportunity to make decisions is vital to children.  A top-down approach where the teacher is “running the show” is not progressive.
Progressive education believes in self-evaluation over grading individual assignments.
Progressive education believes text books should only be used for reference and not to determine curriculum. Mr. Kohn joked “Pearson Publishing never met your kids!”
Alfie Kohn asserts that no research has ever found a benefit of homework before high school and feels it is the “greatest extinguisher of children’s curiosity.”  He believes homework causes frustration, exhaustion, nagging and a lack of time for other things and that family activity time should be determined by families. He asks why children should have a 2nd shift of school each day.
He claims that standardized testing is a political decision that needs to be challenged.  Alfie Kohn encouraged us to forget data because measurable outcomes may be the least significant results of learning.  He quoted a well-known national educator and author on literacy education named Smokey Daniels who claims that spelling is not important, but editing is.  He claims that explicit instruction in grammar is useless and we need to put skills in their proper place.
I have just given you a ton of information.  You may feel inspired to challenge much of it.  Mr. Kohn’s presentation represented, in my opinion, the most extreme side of progressive education. I believe that Elysian embraces a good deal of it but with more balance.  I also believe that Harry encourages our teachers to teach in their own styles within the progressive philosophy.  I would argue that a child with a purely progressive education as Mr. Kohn describes, might be lacking in skills s/he might need in high school or university such as the ability to do homework, manage time and take the entrance exams that society requires.  I don’t know. It is really an opportunity for conversation.
Journalists claim that the training and skills needed for the future careers of the world are still unknown because technology is developing so rapidly.
 Our children may not know what to study in college to be prepared for these future careers.  BUT, if they learn to be critical thinkers and have a love of learning, they will succeed. This is the emphasis of the progressive model that Elysian Charter School places in very high priority and children thrive in this environment.
Elysian Rugby Club Registration, Grades 4 - 8
The Elysian Charter School Rugby Club is accepting registration forms for the fall 2015 season.  Registration is open to all Elysian students, grades 4 - 8.  Coach John Rutledge will once again be leading the Club!
The Club will meet for weekly practice on Thursdays from 3:00-4:00pm at 1600 Park.  Practice will begin on Thursday, October 8th and run the following dates (weather permitting) – 10/8, 10/15, 10/22, 10/29, 11/5 and 11/12.  Please have students dress appropriately for outdoor practices and bring a water bottle.  With the field so close, I am able to walk the Club members to practice.  We’ll meet outside at dismissal. 
The fall season will focus on the fundamentals of flag rugby.  We’ll review rules, participate in drills and have practice scrimmages.  The fall season will also serve as a try-out for the upcoming spring season.  Once the spring season rolls around, we will field two teams with a total of 24 players.  There will be an elementary team (grades 4-5) and a middle school team (grades 6-8) each with only 12 players.  We’ll have weekly practices, participate in scrimmages with other clubs and take part in the NYC Ruby Cup tournament in June to defend our title!
Be on the look-out for registration forms coming home with your child today.
For Parents of 6th Graders, From the Music Room
Dear Parents of Sixth Graders,

Most of you know already that all Sixth Grade students, as part of the Middle School, will now be receiving letter grades from all specialist teachers.  In the sixth grade music program, all students have weekly music homework assignments.  Part of the homework is daily practice on their instrument, including work on playing pieces, improvisation, and  music reading  and writing skills. Once or twice a month I assign a short music history reading and writing assignment.   It is very important that the children do their work on a regular basis so that they do not fall behind in their class work. Making music in class is a wonderful experience when children come to class prepared.  However it can become painful and embarrassing when children fall far behind in their work.

I will be sending notes home to you from time to time, if I find that your child is falling behind due to lack of practice at home or has not turned in written assignments.   

You can help you children to remember to do their homework by asking them what their homework assignments are and when they are due.  All homework is due one week after it is assigned.  

Mary Guthrie
Music Teacher
Volunteers Still Needed for HFA Open House Event
Thursday, October 8, 5:00 - 8:00 PM, Hoboken High School
Please help out at Elysian's information table at the 11th Annual Hoboken Family Alliance School Fair.  This is an opportunity for Elysian to tell potential applicants about our school, our open houses and lottery deadlines.  This is a very busy event that launches Elysian's Enrollment season; we need several volunteers.  Help out for an hour or two!  Please contact Susan Gilbertson, susan.gilbertson@ecsnj.org.
PARENT WORKSHOP:  Suicide Prevention Awareness
Presented by the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide

Hosted by Stevens Cooperative School in collaboration with The Hudson School, Hoboken Charter School and Elysian Charter School.

Tuesday, October 13th,  6:30-7:30, 301 Garden Street.
Please enter the building through the black gates on Garden Street, between 3rd & 4th Street.

RSVP to Elysian Main Office by Friday, October 2nd

KidStuff Coupon Book Fundraiser has begun!  Please look for the yellow bag in your child’s backpack.  The coupon book sent home can be yours for $25 – if you do not want it, please simply return the book to your classroom teacher.  If you would like to sell some to your friends and family, you can receive one FREE book for EVERY 5 you sell!  There will be a prize for the classroom that sells the most books (one winner for each of K-2nd, 3rd-5th and 6th-8th)
Friends of Elysian's Annual Meeting is Thursday, October 15, 6:30 PM

The Friends of Elysian will host its 2015 Annual Meeting on Thursday, October 15th, 2015 at 6:30PM at our building at 1460 Garden Street.   We will be discussing/planning our fundraising initiatives for the 2015-2016 school year and also will be accepting nominations for Friends of Elysian's 2015-2016 board of trustees.  Please consider joining the Friends of Elysian and showing your support for Elysian through fundraising!   

All Elysian community members (e.g. parents, teachers, staff, relatives, Hoboken residents) are welcome to join the Friends by attending the annual meeting or by contacting Friends of Elysian co-chairs: Kim Demopoulos (kim.demopoulos@ubs.com) or Eileen O’Brien (scotchies@aol.com).  Individuals who currently hold positions on the ECS board or any other elected position within Hoboken or Hudson county are not eligible for voting member or board of trustee or officer positions. 

We hope to see you on the 15th! 

Elysian Collects Box Tops and LABELS for Education:  Look for the container near Deb's desk in the office!  Thank you!
September Calendar
Monday, September 28
  • Board of Trustees Meeting, 7:00 PM
Tuesday, September 29
  • Rock Band Auditions, 3:00 - 4:30 PM, 7th and 8th graders only.
  • LOTS - bring a lunch for the Hoboken Shelter!
Wednesday, September 30
  • Please note, NO PTSO Meeting today
October Calendar
Friday, October 2
  • Deadline to rsvp (to Elysian's main office) for Parent Workshop: Suicide Prevention Awareness (see above)
Tuesday, October 6
  • Book Fair, 3rd Floor Lobby
  • LOTS - bring a lunch for the Hoboken Shelter (collection box is located on street level in the stairway entrance)!
Wednesday, October 7
  • Back to School Night, 6:00 PM
  • 4th Grade Trip
  • Book Fair, Third Floor Lobby
Thursday, October 8
  • New Victory Theater visits the 4th grade
  • Book Fair, 3rd Floor Lobby
  • Rugby Club practice, 3:00 - 4:00 PM
Monday, October 12
  • Elysian Closed for Columbus Day
Tuesday, October 13
  • 6:30 - 7:30 PM, Stevens Coop, Parent Workshop: Suicide Prevention Awareness  (See above)
  • LOTS - bring a lunch for the Hoboken Shelter!
Thursday, October 15 
  • 2nd grade trip 
  • 5th grade trip
  • Rugby Club practice, 3:00 - 4:00 PM
  • Friends of Elysian Annual Meeting (see above), 6:30 PM
Friday, October 16
  • Photo Day
Tuesday, October 20
  • LOTS - bring a lunch for the Hoboken Shelter!
Wednesday, October 21
  • Half Day of School, 12:30 dismissal for Staff Development, After School Program available
  • 7th and 8th grade overnight trip
  • PTSO Meeting, 6:30 PM, Pizza and childcare available
Thursday, October 22
  • 2nd grade trip
  • Rugby Club practice, 3:00 - 4:00 PM
Friday, October 23
  • 7th and 8th graders return from overnight trip
Saturday, October 24
  • Halloween Party,   1:00 – 3:00 PM
Monday, October 26
  • High School Night 5:30 p.m.
  • Board of Trustees Meeting, 7:00 PM
Tuesday, October 27
  • LOTS - bring a lunch for the Hoboken Shelter!
Thursday, October 29
  • 8th grade trip
  • Rugby Club practice, 3:00 - 4:00 PM

1460 Garden Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director | harry.laub@ecsnj.org | Phone:201.876.0102 | Fax:201.876.9576
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