Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Equality's Adult Programming - ZUMBA TIP OF THE WEEK

In 2015 Equality Charter School launched our Adult Programming classes to support our parents and community members' educational needs. We offer classes in three areas: parenting, wellness, and career readiness.

Our current wellness class, which is offered free to all adults from our community, is ZUMBA. Approximately 25 people attend this weekly class taught by our YMCA instructor Eleanor Moody.....


Executive Director & Founder
Equality Charter School

Monday, December 19, 2016

Girls to Women Holiday Giving

Equality Charter High School Girls to Women group volunteered at Mount Sinai Hospital Rehabilitation Center on Friday, December 16, 2016. The scholars spent time greeting patients and give each patient with a personalized get well card.  We are very proud and honored to have an amazing, loving and compassionate scholars at Equality Charter School.

Caitlin Franco
Executive Director & Founder

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Equality vs. Equity?

Recently I came across this comic, and I found it to be really helpful... 
until it led to me wonder if our school had been named after the wrong word.

Image result for equality equity comic

Our school was named Equality Charter School after we coined the phrase, "We provide equal access to high quality education for all scholars." I did not choose the name myself, but I endorsed it without question. And I did not evaluate it as closely as I should have at that time. The definitions of the words EQUALITY and EQUITY above make it seem that EQUALITY prevents scholars from reaching the same outcomes, and I do not agree.

I believe in SAMENESS in regards to giving all of our scholars the same opportunities. It is not for me, or any other educator in our building, to limit a child from opportunities. It is not for me to decide that the scholar needs a different sized box just because, from my perspective, he/she seems to need a taller box. Who am I to decide? Instead, I hope we can teach scholars to learn about themselves and learn to advocate for what they need and not look to others to judge and decide for them. 

In the comic above, is it for me to decide that the shortest child needs a taller box to stand on? By doing that, I have already decided that there is no way he will accomplish the feat of looking over the fence unless I provide something to him. Maybe he will surprise us all and build a step stool to reach that goal himself. I have been surprised by our scholars time and time again, and those are always the most rewarding times as an educator.

And I also believe in FAIRNESS in that we give each scholar what he/she needs to reach the same outcomes. So maybe both words are appropriate in their own way, and without one, the other would not be as effective. 

So both words are appropriate and important to our school's philosophy, but after further evaluation I can sleep soundly with the name EQUALITY (Phew!)...

Caitlin Franco
Executive Director & Founder

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Special Thank You to Highline Stages

Equality Charter School would like to thank you Highline Stages for providing a perfect setting for our Spring Reception! Your generosity will help us build our Career Center and provide educational programs for our scholars. Shout out to Host Committee member Noel Luria for this connection!

Caitlin Franco
Founder & Executive Director
Equality Charter School

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Inclusion... What Do We Mean?

At Equality, we pride ourselves on being a fully inclusive environment and we tout this fact quite often from the tops of our lungs.

But just as much as we talk about it, people ask us what we mean by the term "inclusive environment." The simplest answer is that we educate all scholars together, in one setting, without separating them based on labels they have been assigned. Most often, students are given the labels of GenEd for General Education scholars and SpEd for Special Education scholars. The very fact that labeling kids is a regular practice in most schools is what separates kids, not includes them in one common environment. We believe that, as a public school, it is our responsibility to educate all scholars who come to our school and to adapt our model, ourselves, and our teaching to meet their needs (not the other way around).

At Equality, we give all scholars "equal access to high quality education," which is actually where we got our name Equality Charter School. They are in classes all together, which gives the responsibility to the teacher(s) to meet all scholars needs in that one setting regardless of any labels. We look at each scholar individually to figure out how we can meet their needs. While "educating all scholars together, in one setting" may be the simplest of answers, it does not really even begin to address what it means. 

The other day I read an article, WHEN WE SAY, “WE DO INCLUSION,” WHAT DO WE MEAN? by  Megan Davis-Hitchens. This past summer, Ms. Davis-Hitchens came to Equality to train our staff on inclusive practices and we will continue to work with her throughout the course of the year.

In her first paragraph she states, "it becomes clear that behind their inclusive systems are highly passionate and committed educators - educators who believe, whole-heartedly, that all students can be successful and truly belong in their school community. They continuously adapt, modify, shift, and learn, in order to ensure that all students are included." And that is where all the work occurs. It is not simply in scheduling the scholars together in one setting, it is the challenging work our teachers take part in to ensure all of their needs are being met. 

We are grateful for all of the supports we get, such as from the NYC Charter School Center, to help us figure out how to best educate our scholars. Being a school that touts our inclusive environment, means we are a school that is constantly learning, growing, and evolving. Challenging work it is!

Caitlin Franco
Founder & Executive Director

Monday, December 12, 2016

Thank you to John Mongello from The Durst Organization

Equality Charter School would like to thank Host Committee member @John Mongello from The Durst Organization for getting our first sponsor!

We are currently seeking sponsors for our Spring Reception, please visit our event’s page to find out more about sponsorship opportunities: http://www.equalitycharterschool.org/events/spring-reception/

Caitlin Franco
Founder & Executive Director
Equality Charter School

Friday, December 9, 2016

Equality High School Interns Working towards Their Future!

Equality Charter High School's scholars are doing an awesome job at their Internships. We are so proud of their work. Thank you to our 2016-17 Internship sites! 

Check it out here: Equality High School Interns


Advanced Solutions
Apollo Medical Clinic
Assembly member Luis Sepulveda's office
BronxNet Television
Fordham University
Isabel's Empowering Queens
Jacobi Hospital
Robyn Burchman, DMD

Caitlin Franco
Founder & Executive Director
Equality Charter School

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Inside Schools Visit

Thank you so much to Inside Schools for coming out to visit us yesterday. It was such an honor to spend the day touring Lydie around our Middle School and High School buildings for the day. She visited classrooms, chatted with teachers, spoke with some scholars, and interviewed school leadership. We always appreciate having visitors take the time to travel to us and get to know us. 

We look forward to seeing what she has to say about our school when they publish their updates in the next few weeks!

Caitlin Franco
Founder & Executive Director
Equality Charter School

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Our Commitments

Image result for rumi quotes
This work is difficult.

This work is exhausting.

This work is challenging.

Because of all of these attributes of the work that educators partake in, by December we are drained.

It becomes even more important at this time to keep centered and focused.

At Equality, we have a Steering Committee. This committee is comprised of all leadership staff (anyone who supervises other staff) and representatives from other areas of the organization (such as teachers and a social worker). 

Each year the committee takes a different focus. This year, the objective for our Steering Committee meetings is to keep our spirits alive and healthy, to have deep conversations about what it takes to achieve our mission, to learn how to explore and think slowly about important issues, and to provide a safe space to hold discussions that we normally do not have on a regular basis.

We hold a monthly meeting where we reflect on the questions posed to us and delve into why something is occurring or how we got to where we are. This is opposed to searching for a solution, how to fix a problem, how to react, or how to bandage it - there is no action planning. For action-oriented staff members, this is challenging. It is difficult to just talk in depth about a topic.

We had our first of two retreats in August (the second is in January). At this retreat, we made commitments to each other and to ourselves...

  • Make space in the fire for the wild and the weak
  • Suspend judgments... or at least notice when we don’t
  • Ask for help
  • Candidly probe if we feel others may need support but are not asking for it
  • Learn about and practice being messy and/or emotional and meeting others when they are
  • Give each other the benefit of the doubt
  • Come back home to who we are and allow ourselves to be fully human without compromising mission

At each meeting, we focus on these commitments. Sometimes we zone in on one commitment. Sometimes we talk about several of them. During many other times I have found myself using the language of these commitments in conversations, usually difficult ones at that, to help guide someone. These commitments have become the guide for this year's challenges.

When someone is frustrated with a co-worker, it's helpful to remind them to "give each other the benefit of the doubt" or "make space in the fire for the wild and the weak." With this common language, which we created together, we are able to speak to each other in our own "language" and find common ground.

During this difficult, exhausting, challenging work that is education... in the month of December... it is important to have uplifting language that is common among school leaders to navigate through this time. Feel free to try out some of our commitments yourself.

Caitlin Franco
Founder & Executive Director
Equality Charter School

Monday, December 5, 2016

Equality's Spring Reception - Rose Manco

Equality Charter School would like to thank Host Committee member, Rose Manco from The Durst Organization, for securing 20 bottles of wine already! We will be having a Wine Pull at our Spring Reception.

Caitlin Franco
Founder & Executive Director
Equality Charter School

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Scholars Volunteering

Equality Charter High School's Girls to Women Club volunteered at the St. Peter's Episcopal Love Kitchen for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Over 20 scholars helped to prepare and serve Thanksgiving meals to families. Equality Charter School is so fortunate to have scholars who are willing to help the community. 

Thank you, Girl's to Women!

Caitlin Franco
Founder & Executive Director
Equality Charter School