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Letters from our Superintendent

May 14, 2019:

Dear Parents:

 

I wanted to make you aware of an incident that occurred today. 

 

Early this morning, a few students brought a social media post, of concern, to the attention of high school administration.  Our school administrators immediately notified the Garden City Police Department. The police department have determined that the social media post does not appear to be a threat at this time.  We will continue to work with the GCPD to monitor this situation.

 

At no time today was there an immediate danger to any student or staff member.   The procedures that we have in place allowed us to handle this situation with little disruption to the other students in the building, most of whom were unaware of the social media post. 

 

We take all threats very seriously.  Our students are to be commended for bringing this to the attention of school administrators immediately.  The importance of see something, say something is stressed with students and adults in our school community on an ongoing basis.

 

We continue to make every effort to provide students and staff with a safe and caring environment while in school.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kusum

 

Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Garden City Public Schools
Garden City, NY  11530
(516) 478-1010

 

February 28, 2019:

Dear Parents and Guardians: 

 

A recent social media challenge targeting children and young adults called the “Momo Challenge,” has created concern throughout the country due to its disturbing nature. The purpose of this letter is to make you aware of this challenge, provide you with information, and urge you to monitor your children’s use of social media and the Internet. The “Momo Challenge,” a game found on Facebook and WhatsApp (a free smartphone messaging app), features a frightening avatar making contact with a child from an unknown number or name who asks its viewers to perform various violent tasks and provide photos as proof. The "Momo" threatens those who do not perform the tasks. 

 

You can learn more about the “Momo Challenge” by visiting the links below. Please be warned that some of the images and stories may be disturbing:

 

https://wnep.com/2018/12/13/momo-challenge-a-dangerous-viral-game-prompts-warnings-to-parents/

 

https://www.wkbw.com/news/the-deadly-momo-challenge-are-your-children-playing-it

 

In addition, it has also been brought to our attention that several YouTube videos have surfaced on both YouTube and YouTube kids with explicit instructions on how to commit suicide. The videos range from cartoon-like to real life people facilitating step by step instructional content on how to end your life. The videos have been found spliced within other video content so they may not appear readily when viewing content on YouTube.

 

Our counselors and administrators are aware and will be addressing this issue and internet safety in general with our students.

 

To assist you in considering age appropriateness for children’s use of technology and time spent on social media I am also providing you with some links that offer advice and assistance:

 

https://childmind.org/article/media-guidelines-for-kids-of-all-ages/

 

https://www.safesearchkids.com/

 

https://www.parenting.com/gallery/social-media-monitoring-kids?page=2

 

 

We encourage you to remind your children not to accept any invitation to play a game from an unknown number and not to click on unidentified links. Please also remind your children to change email and social media passwords frequently and block unknown numbers inviting them to play immediately.

 

If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s principal.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kusum

 

Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

_____________________________

"Momo Challenge" UPDATE - 2-28-19 - from Nassau BOCES:

 

Determining whether the "Momo Challenge" is a real threat or more of a social media “urban legend” is difficult to discern. There are multiple postings that present both points of view which you can review below. Please feel free to use this information to make your own determination.

 

The main takeaway: Keep track of how our children/students are using the internet and social media and encourage them to report any online interaction that is scary or threatening.

 

Articles on the "Momo Challenge" and why it may be a cause for concern:

CBS News: Police issue warning to parents after “Momo Challenge” resurfaces

MSN: What You Need to Know About the “Momo Challenge”

 Articles on the "Momo Challenge" that may help you feel a bit better:

Snopes: How much of a threat is the ‘Momo Challenge’ Suicide Game?

Rolling Stone: What Is the Momo Challenge?

 _____________________________________

 

3-1-19: And here are a few more links with important Internet Safety information:

Re: the Momo hoax

The Atlantic:  

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/02/momo-challenge-hoax/583825/

 NBC News:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna977961

https://Commonsense.org

https://www.waituntil8th.org

 

____________________________

 

December 7, 2018:

Dear Parents and Guardians,


I would like to provide you with an update regarding school safety and security and our progress with the District’s current security projects.


Based on the recommendations from last year’s security audit, we have moved forward with hiring a dedicated Supervisor of Security with expertise in the area of law enforcement and security. This person will:

  • assess our current security and safety protocols and identify any gaps,
  • work closely with district and building administrators on safety and security matters,
  • assist with the implementation of recommendations from the security report,
  • train our faculty, staff, and students.

There have been a few incidents in our buildings this year. Having someone with experience and who is dedicated to school safety and security is needed.


Below is an update on additional items we have completed or are in the process of completing:

  • Installation of six door alarms on exterior doors at Stewart.
  • Installation of door alarms on exterior doors at Stratford – in process.
  • Monitoring of all exterior doors through a live video feed at Stewart and Stratford until
    the vestibule project is completed.
  • Custom doors and wall partitions have been ordered to seal the areas between the two
    sets of entry doors for the school vestibule project at Stratford School, Middle School and
    High School.
  • Outside groups (i.e. blood drive) will no longer be permitted inside our buildings during
    school hours where safety is compromised.
  • Implementation of new dismissal procedures at our primary and elementary buildings.
  • Added exterior drop-off bins at the Middle School to minimize the number of people
    entering the building during the school day.
  • A Visitor Management System has been selected.
  • Addition of GPS and cameras to our buses is in progress.
  • Access to real-time camera viewing of every building to the Garden City Police
    Department.

Our focus continues to be the safety of our staff and students. Training for both groups is an essential part of keeping our schools as safe as possible. We continue to work very closely with the Garden City Police Department to ensure the security of our buildings and explore ways to enhance school security. We greatly appreciate the support of Commissioner Jackson and his team.


Safety and security also includes the relationships we build with our children. We will continue to create schools that are safe, welcoming, and where students feel a sense of belonging. That feeling of belonging is key to academic growth, but it’s also essential in creating a safe environment.


We will do everything within our power to continually create safe and secure learning environments where our children have the opportunity to excel. Your children are our priority, and we thank you for the privilege of working with them every single day.


Sincerely,


Kusum


Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

______________________________

 

November 21, 2018:

Incident update:

Dear Parents:

 Today, at approximately 1:28 p.m., we received a call from Garden City Police that there was police activity near the Hemlock Primary School.  There were three suspects.  Two of the suspects were apprehended, and one suspect fled on foot.  This resulted in the police setting up a perimeter to contain the suspect, which no one could enter.  We then decided to place Hemlock School in a lockout.  Also, we held all buses from our other schools whose drop off was near Hemlock and only released walkers from other buildings to parents. 

 We received clearance from the police department at approximately 2:42 p.m. and resumed our dismissal process.  We were kept informed throughout the incident, and a police officer was stationed at Hemlock the entire time. 

Please know that our children were safe at all times. 

I want to thank you all for your cooperation and understanding.  I would also like to thank our police department who work so closely with us in keeping our students safe. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your building administrators or my office.  In the next two weeks, I will be updating you on our district-wide safety and security plans.

 With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I am grateful to be part of this school community whose commitment to our children is unparalleled. 

 Sincerely,

 Kusum

 Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Garden City Public Schools

56 Cathedral Avenue

Garden City, NY  11530

(516) 478-1010

_____________________________

 

November 21, 2018:

Dear Parents,

As we reflect on the many things we are thankful for this Thanksgiving, we are thankful for our students who give us all a daily reminder of what is important and why we are here in Garden City.  We are thankful to you, our parents, as you share your most valuable possession with us, your children, and partner with us in your children’s education, safety, and well-being.

We are also thankful to our PTA, SEPTA, and the numerous parent organizations who support our educational programs and contribute so much to our schools.  We thank you for all you do to support your children and our schools.

I hope you enjoy family and friends this Thanksgiving and take time to celebrate all that we have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

Kusum

Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

 _____________________________ 

November 20, 2018:

Dear Parents, 

The Garden City Police Department informed us of an incident that occurred Monday afternoon where a middle school student walking on Chestnut Street was approached by a male, approximately 25-30 years old, wearing a black baseball cap, black backpack, and riding a black and yellow bicycle.  This person followed the student and asked the student questions.  The student was able to divert the individual and get home safely.  

No one was harmed in the incident.  The Garden City Police Department is continuing its investigation.

We want to inform you of this incident as part of our continued efforts to ensure the safety of all students.  I encourage you to use this notification as an opportunity to review safety rules with your children and remind them to avoid circumstances that increase their vulnerability.  If ever you see anything suspicious you are encouraged to call the Garden City Police Department at 516-465-4100.  Please be assured that we will continue to keep you informed as warranted.

Sincerely,                                                                      

Kusum                

Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

___________________________________

November 9, 2018


Dear Parents,


In light of the recent shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Thousand Oaks, California, we are reminded of how dangerous a world this can seem to a child. It is difficult enough for us to understand as adults. We feel deeply saddened for the victims and their families. As much as we try to shield our children from these tragedies, they unfortunately can be exposed to upsetting events like these through social media and peer discussions.
As teachers, administrators, and school employees, we strive to keep our connections strong to each and every one of our students. Please engage in conversations with your child to stay connected. If you feel your child may need to talk to someone, we have counseling support available in our buildings.
Here are some resources that may be of help to you:


http://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/talking-to-children-about-violence-tips-for-parents-and-teachers


https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/16/07/coping-community-crisis


On another note, as we celebrate Veterans Day this Monday, November 12th, let us remember the men and women who are serving or who have served this country in our military. Many members of the Garden City community have served this nation. Their service has distinguished them as individuals who have made great sacrifices to protect us. They are the men and women who ensure that each and every one of us can enjoy the freedoms we do. We honor and thank our Veterans and their families.
Finally, as we approach the season of giving thanks, we encourage you to attend the various school events planned for the next few weeks to see your child(ren) in their schools and classrooms.
Enjoy the long weekend.


Sincerely,
Kusum


Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

_________________________________

 

November 1, 2018:

 

Dear Parents,

The Garden City Police Department has informed us of an incident that occurred Wednesday afternoon on Avalon Road in which a gold/beige 4-door sedan, driven by an unknown male, stopped and asked a child if he wanted some candy.  The child had just gotten off the school bus and was walking up the driveway.  The vehicle then slowly left the area south bound on Avalon.  There is no description of the driver.   

No one was harmed in the incident.  The Garden City Police Department is continuing its investigation.

We want to inform you of this incident as part of our continued efforts to ensure the safety of all students.  I encourage you to use this notification as an opportunity to review safety rules with your children and remind them to avoid circumstances that increase their vulnerability.  If ever you see anything suspicious you are encouraged to call the Garden City Police Department at 516-465-4100.  Please be assured that we will continue to keep you informed as warranted.

Sincerely,

Kusum

Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

_________________________________
October 30, 2018:
Dear Parents,

Mental health of our students is an important topic for us as a school community.  Today, we see noticeably an increase in the number of students with anxiety and depression in schools.  Just this year, New York State has identified Mental Health Education as a priority and a new mandate for schools. As we move forward to create a consistent K-12 approach to our students’ mental health, our goal is to educate our students about mental health where they will be able to effectively recognize signs and symptoms in themselves and others and will know where to turn for help.  In our schools, we address mental health through various programs, such as mindfulness, yoga, health classes, co-curricular programs, among others.  We want to create learning environments that decrease negative stigmas, and encourage students to communicate and to develop healthy, resilient behaviors.

To support this initiative, we are creating a web page as a resource for our school community. “Continuum of Well Being” will appear under “Recent News” on the District’s main page: www.gardencity.k12.ny.us. Information and links will be posted and included in upcoming District newsletters as we broaden our vision and knowledge.

We are grateful to our PTA for their support in bringing expert mental health speakers to our school community. Programs such as “Angst” remind us that our students need support to deal with the pressures of growing up in today’s society. The presentation has sparked meaningful conversations and increased awareness of the importance of helping our students to recognize and communicate when they are having difficulty coping with such stressors.     

Here are links to recent articles that focus on anxiety, social pressures, and achievement pressures of our youths that you might find helpful:

https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/17/11/resilience-anxious-students  

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/06/11/616900580/back-off-how-to-get-out-of-the-high-pressure-parenting-trap 

  

Kusum

Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

______________________________

 

September 4, 2018:

Dear Garden City Parents/Guardians, 

Opening Day is always very special as we welcome our students back!  Today, approximately 3,900 students arrived at our seven school buildings to begin the new school year.  Our students were greeted at school by their administrators, teachers, and staff.  This morning, I visited each of our schools and many classrooms where students were already happily engaged in learning, even with today’s high temperatures.  With the temperature being so elevated, please remind your children to stay hydrated and drink lots of water and know we are keeping the heat index in mind for all outside activities.  

As your children are back in school, I did want you to know our students’ safety, both physical and emotional, continues to be our top priority. We work very closely with our Police Department and had police presence at each of our buildings today.  In addition, every officer is assigned to monitor our schools on their post throughout the year. The District and the Police Department work hand in hand regarding security and traffic matters that impact our children.  We are grateful to Commissioner Jackson and his team for working so closely with us. 

Additionally, last year we underwent an extensive school security audit from hardware and software to protocols and drills; every aspect of school safety was examined. Over the summer and during the upcoming months, we are implementing many of the recommendations we received, which include a visitor management system, additional security cameras, strobes, a one button lock-down system in each of our schools, and training for our school personnel.  We will continue to keep you informed with our progress.

We want every child to feel they are an integral part of our school community – to know that our schools are safe places where they can learn, grow, and thrive.  We want each student not only to like coming to school, but to love attending school.

I look forward to meeting you in the coming months.  Until then, best wishes for a wonderful school year.

Sincerely,

Kusum                                                                                                                      

Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools                                

_______________________________________ 
August 27, 2018:
Dear Garden City Parents/Guardians,

Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year!
Since I started on July 1st, I have met with many of the dedicated faculty and staff who work for our outstanding school district, and have learned a great deal about Garden City. Together, our school district and the Village of Garden City comprise a unique and very special place; a community with a rich history, and a long tradition of family values and communal spirit. I am honored to be part of our shared vision and assure you that I will work diligently and collaboratively to advance the mission of the school district – inspiring minds, empowering achievement, building community - and uphold the values and traditions of excellence that make Garden City Public Schools great.
As we begin the school year together, I would like to share a few of the many new and exciting initiatives planned for our K-12 students in the upcoming school year. These include:
 At the primary level, we will introduce Fundations, a program designed to strengthen young learners' phonemic awareness, phonics and word study.
 At the elementary level, we are excited to welcome back Dancing Classrooms, a physical education program that focuses on students’ social-emotional growth using movement and dance.
 At the middle school, a revised and revamped study skills program will be offered to our sixth graders, and a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) Club will be introduced.
 At the high school, our award-winning college Project Lead the Way (PLTW) sequence will include civil engineering and architecture for our fourth-year engineering students.
 Several middle school teachers participated in a rigorous program on project-based learning at Harvard University, which they will incorporate in their classroom practice.
 We will also have additional classrooms with flexible furniture at Stratford and Locust that will enhance instructional practice.
In the area of Technology, the District continues with its 1:1 initiative, adding five new Chromebook carts – two at the middle school and three at the high school. Fifth-grade students will receive Chromebooks and second and third graders will receive iPads.

Over the past two months, many significant building projects have taken place in all of our school buildings. In the high school, a new air conditioning system for the auditorium has been installed; the lobby bathrooms are being upgraded with anticipated completion this fall; the art lab has been completely renovated with re-cabling for 30 new 21.5” iMac computers, plus new furniture, and flooring; the auxiliary gym floor has been refinished, and it has been fitted with new wall and floor mats. In addition, new blinds have been installed in the science and social studies wings, and the safety netting system on the turf field has been replaced, completing the field replacement project. Also, the bus circle on Rockaway has been widened with new curbing, sidewalks and asphalt; the Middle School’s auditorium stage floor was sanded and repainted, and several classrooms in Stewart received drop ceilings with LED lighting.
We hired two administrators over the summer. Eleni Chronas is our new Assistant Director of Pupil Personnel Services. She comes to us with extensive special education background as a teacher, psychologist and administrator. Keri Hand is our Interim Assistant Principal at Stewart School. She has been a teacher at Stewart School for the past 14 years. We welcome them along with many new faculty and staff to the District.
Garden City School District is a very active place, so please remember to check our website -
www.gardencity.k12.ny.us - for updates and additional information. You can also follow me on Twitter, @GCPSSupt, and also the district, @GCUFSD.
I, along with our administrators, faculty, and staff, are looking forward to welcoming your children on September 4th. Best wishes for a fulfilling school year!
Sincerely,
Kusum
Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
__________________________________
 August 17, 2018:
Dear Garden City School Community,
It is an honor and privilege to serve as Superintendent for the Garden City Schools. I look forward to working with members of the Board of Education, administrative team, faculty, staff, students, and parents.
 
Here in Garden City, we are guided by our mission statement - Inspiring Minds, Empowering Achievement, Building Community- with our goal of cultivating and instilling enthusiasm for learning to help our students reach their personal best and succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. This mission is stewarded by our dedicated faculty and staff who guide and encourage our students to reach their full potential. 
 
I am confident that by working collaboratively with the Garden City school community, we will continue to build upon Garden City’s tradition of excellence from its rich educational programs and opportunities for students to its extensive arts, athletics, and co-curricular programs. 
 
The community’s high level of investment in our school is evident from my visits to each school and through attending school events. Our schools are stronger because they are embedded in a community that takes pride in the success of its students. I am very much looking forward to being part of this school community, and look forward to meeting you and your children throughout the year!
 
Warmest Regards,
 
Kusum
 
Kusum Sinha, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Garden City Public Schools