By: Sarabeth Weszely, Senior Writer
September 28, 2020
“I am so proud of our teachers for the tremendous amount of work they have put into planning and executing this very different school year, from leading Professional Development sessions to hosting one-on-one office hours with students. Thank you for dedicating your time and energy to make this the best remote experience possible.”
-Christina Reyes, Founder and CEO
Our tenth anniversary year did not end the way we imagined, but despite the many disruptions COVID-19 has brought to our world, Inwood Academy’s mission of providing equitable education for students in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx is alive and well. As we begin our eleventh year in the midst of unprecedented circumstances, we want to give you a glimpse of the ways that mission is playing out in our school.
Inwood Academy’s Leadership Team has been working since the Spring to form multiple re-entry plans in accordance with the CDC and Governor Cuomo’s guidelines for school re-opening. With this guidance, we decided to begin our 2020-21 school year in a remote context, continuing to supply all students with personal Chromebooks and tech support, and offering socially distanced in-school services to a limited number of students through our Family Support Center.
With the health of all students and staff in mind, the Family Support Center has limited space and grants priority seating to students whose growth depends most-heavily on in-person instruction, including English Language Learners, students with Individualized Education Plans, and students in families that depend on childcare to work. Students who participate in the Family Support Center are able to work collaboratively in small advisory groups with the support of a staff member five days a week.
Students in the Family Support Center remain in the same classroom for the duration of their classes to limit contact, and each day school lunches are delivered to their desks. They have daily opportunities for outdoor recreation, and supports such as speech therapy and counseling are continuing in a remote format.
Students who participate in remote learning from home are able to receive ten Grab N’ Go school meals per week. These pre-made breakfast and lunch packages can be picked up cold (not frozen) and ready to heat each Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon.
This summer and early fall, we were able to host seven successful Food & Essential Supplies Distributions outside of our middle school campus, in partnership with World Vision, Community Financial Service Centers, Children’s Aid, Manhattan Christian Academy, and the Love Kitchen.
Inwood Academy families were able to pick up grocery bags filled with nonperishable foods, household maintenance items, school supplies, backpacks, and age appropriate toys, books and tablemates. Our final distribution took place on Monday, September 28th, and we were able to serve more than 600 Inwood Academy family members over the course of our seven distributions.
We are ever-grateful for the volunteers, donations and partnerships that allow us to support our families in this way, and want to give a special shout out to the many parent volunteers who generously volunteered their time to serve other Inwood Academy parents and students at these events. It is such a joy to watch our Inwood Academy family take care of each other through these challenging times.
“These partnerships made it possible for us to collaboratively respond to the immediate needs of families that have been disproportionately affected by COVID within our school community. It’s an honor and privilege to be a part of this work.”
-Jeannie Infante, Distribution Lead Coordinator
September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month! As a school, we take great pride in our community’s Hispanic roots, and over the years, we have found many creative ways to celebrate with our students and prompt thoughtful reflection. Last year we hosted our first Culture Night, where students teamed up with family members to cook and present food that represented their heritage.
Remote learning restrictions have forced us to stretch our creativity even more this fall, and so we are taking Hispanic Heritage Month to our homes and Chromebooks. Students are writing reflections in their classes on this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme: Be proud of your past and embrace the future. Students and staff are working together to prepare a Virtual Cookbook where favorite family recipes will be shared and prepared.
Inwood Academy is also hosting a Virtual Talent Show across all grades on October 14th where students and their families will be able to submit videos of cultural dish preparations, dances, songs, or other creative expressions. Videos will be posted on our Instagram story and one winner will be chosen from each school. Though we wish we could taste each other’s dishes and hear each other’s songs in person, we are grateful that this virtual setting allows us to share the joy a little more broadly, and we invite you to watch the video submissions with us October 14th!