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BY DR. ALLEN FRANCES AND TYLER FRANCES

At age 74, I have already experienced many of the indignities of aging and before very long will also confront the inevitability of death. Although neither prospect is particularly pleasant, I strongly believe in the normality and necessity of both. Claims that science will soon prevent aging and dramatically prolong life strike me as irresponsible hype and false hope. I am all for efforts to expand our healthspan, but see little value in prolonging our lifespan, and little possibility that we will soon discover a fountain of youth.

My grandson, home from college for Christmas break, disagrees with what he regards as my sentimental and regressive attachment to the status quo. Tyler is participating in stem cell and genetics research and believes that it is feasible and desirable to double the human lifespan and make aging just another curable disease. Tyler has no qualms about this research and regards my doubts as technically naive and ethically unnecessary.

Here is a very brief point by point summary of our ongoing debate.

Me: Evolution requires aging and death to make room for each new generation and also favors a fairly rapid succession of generations. Both are necessary to provide raw material for the variability and beneficial mutations essential to natural selection. 

Tyler: Evolution has little interest in aging and death. Natural selection focuses its selective pressure on producing optimal reproductive fitness in the mating members of any species. Once the period of reproduction and weaning have passed, natural selection applies much less pressure on how the rest of the lifespan plays out. There is thus no inherent evolutionary reason to prohibit research that would prevent aging and prolong life. And there are excellent reasons to pursue it- although evolution does a remarkable job when given enough time, it works far too slowly and imperfectly to help us solve our current problems. Whenever, in the past, it has served our interests, humans have always felt free to speed up natural selection. We would still be hunters and gatherers were it not for the artificial selection of domesticated plants and animals that constituted the agricultural and pastoral revolutions. If we have the genetic tools to promote human health, longevity, and happiness, why not use them.

Me: But the world is already terribly over-populated and is rapidly becoming even more over-populated. Extending the lifespan will mean more crowding, more mouths to feed, more environmental degradation, and more resource depletion. Malthusian dynamics ensure that providing a longer life for some must be purchased at the high cost of a more brutal life for the many- a life threatened by even more wars, migrations, famines, and epidemics.

Tyler: Overpopulation is best solved by reducing birthrates. This has already been done with great success almost everywhere in the world except Africa and the Middle East. It will be a better, more mature, and healthier world if people live longer and have fewer diseases and fewer children. A longer lifespan will make people wiser, more future oriented, and less willing to take foolish risks in the present. This could lead to more rational decisions on how best to preserve our planet as a decent place to live. Me: Only the rich will be able to afford new products that prevent aging and promote longevity. The resulting caste system based on lifespan will be even more unfair than our current divisions based on wealth and power.

Tyler: The distribution of benefits that will accrue from aging research is a political, economic, and ethical question, not a scientific one. Given human nature and existing institutional structures, the benefits will almost certainly be enjoyed in a markedly unequal and unfair fashion- greatly favoring the rich and powerful, with only a very slow trickle down to the population at large. This inequity has accompanied every previous technological advance in the long march of human progress and is not specifically disqualifying to progress in slowing aging and death.

Me: Every scientific advance can, and usually does, have harmful, unintended consequences (medical, social, political, economic) that cannot possibly be predicted in advance. Scientists always have intellectual and financial conflicts of interest that bias them to exaggerate the potential benefits to be derived from their discoveries and to minimize the potential risks.

Tyler: Surely, aging research will have its hype, blind alleys, and unexpected complications- these are an unavoidable risk in all scientific advances. But the risks and difficulties should not paralyze efforts to make the advance or call into question whether it should be made; instead, they should increase caution and vigilance in how it is done. And we must remember the context. Our world is already going to hell in a handbasket- the risks of advancing science are real, but the potential benefits may be all that stand between us and disaster. Science is necessarily disruptive, but may offer our only road to salvation. To quote Mark Watney in the movie 'The Martian': "In the face of overwhelming odds, I'm left with only one option, I'm gonna have to science the shit out of this."

Me: There is something arrogant and unseemly about tampering with anything so fundamental to life as aging and death. Their inevitability has always been an essential element governing the ebb and flow of all the species and all the individual organisms that have ever lived on our planet. Why assume that we have the right, or the need, to tamper with such a basic aspect of nature?

Tyler: Scientific progress has always challenged conservative values based on a sentimental attachment to the past. My grandfather would probably have worked hard to convince the first agriculturalists that they were breaking some sacred and natural code when they chose to settle down in one place rather than continue following the hunt. There is no inevitable, inexorable, over-riding, and natural law defining and governing one correct path of human destiny.

 

 

By Dr. Blake Spahn, Vice Chancellor of Dwight School

DwightSchoolViceChancellorBlakeSpahn.jpgThe philosophical underpinnings of the International Baccalaureate trace back to Kurt Hahn, a British educator of German origin who worked for a negotiated peace after World War I. He believed that implementing an international curriculum around the world could abolish national and racial prejudices, thereby wiping out the main cause of war. His thinking influenced Alec Peterson, Director of the University of Oxford's Department of Educational Studies, who aimed to broaden the British A level curriculum, enabling children to develop to their fullest potential. His work to reform the A levels ultimately took shape in the late 1960s as the universal IB curriculum, independent of any government and national biases and systems.

I took an initial interest in the IB when my own high school, Dwight School, adopted the curriculum. I saw first-hand how the IB impacted our school and its culture, and was struck by the transformation in such a short period of time. I later delved deeper while pursuing my DPhil in comparative international education at Oxford. My doctoral thesis focused on the development of the IB in the U.S., through the lens of four case-study schools. My goal was to answer the following questions through extensive research:

  • Why would an American school adopt the IB? The primary reasons were the curriculum's high academic standards across a wide array of integrated subjects and a school's desire to raise its academic standards. Additionally, the IB enhanced the school's ability to attract foreign students and to increase diversity within its community.
  • How is the IB implemented in a U.S. school? It was clear that prior to implementation, a school must understand its own core values to ensure compatibility and that successful implementation relied on the leadership of a senior faculty member, such as an IB coordinator or principal, to help smooth the way. Implementation also required that the school gain consensus among senior faculty by making them part of the decision-making process. Once on board, everyone needed to steer clear of creating a division between IB and non-IB students. 
  • What is the effect of the IB on the institution? The predominant impact was improved academic standards and increased pride in the school both for its enhanced reputation and for being part of a larger global group.

I published these research findings in greater detail in America and the International Baccalaureate: Implementing the International Baccalaureate in the United States in 2001. Since that time, the IB has grown exponentially nationwide for many of the same reasons and with even more enthusiasm in today's globalized world ─ an ever-evolving world in which employers seek internationally minded, multi-lingual, culturally sensitive and agile employees. The IB provides the best academic preparation available anywhere for graduates to enter this global marketplace equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge to succeed ─ and, in the spirit of Kurt Hahn, to build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect.  

Dr. Blake Spahn is Vice Chancellor of Dwight School, the first school in the Americas to offer all four IB programs for students from preschool through grade 12. Founded in 1872, Dwight School is dedicated to igniting the spark of genius in every child.

During the summer many parents concerned about their child's ascendance to college are providing them with support as they prepare for the upcoming SAT exams. An important issue to consider is what have evolved recently.  Namely, that the questions are very heavily embedded in a student's reading ability and possibly cultural acquaintance. I have been a strong advocate for preparing students for the SATs, having written support books on the topic for both teachers and students - for teachers on how to prepare students, and for students to provide significant practice. But now the question arises as to how to prepare for the math section of the SAT, when there is considerable reading skills embedded therein.

If we agree that the test items are to assess the students' quantitative thinking, mathematical skills, and problem-solving ability, then the items presented should be geared appropriately. Today we are faced with a new form of test item for the math section of the SAT exam, which I believe is wrongly constructed, since it is too dependent on reading comprehension and cultural competence. This is coming under the guise of presenting "real-world" experiences. Just looking at the sample tests provided online and seen through the eyes of a student who may be have challenges in reading, or a student whose native language is not English - a skill assessed on other parts of the SAT - one will see that they are at a definite disadvantage. After all, the SATs already have a reading test, and a test of writing and language. We don't need to "pollute" the math test with a significant degree of reading competence and cultural awareness.

We ought to assess "real world" mathematics skills without being so verbose. In previous decades, the mathematics section of the SAT focused exclusively on mathematics skills with a minimum amount of reading required. The uncluttered math items presented an advantage as evidenced by an experience I had during my years in the 1960s as a math teacher (and math team coach) at a Bronx high school, I remember the extraordinarily brilliant student, who emigrated from Hong Kong, demonstrated his brilliance in mathematics, but was rather weak with his English skills. His score on the verbal SAT was very low, but he got an 800, the top score, on the mathematics test.  He was subsequently accepted to MIT with a scholarship! This was when the math questions were far less verbal than they are on today's exam - testing math alone without requiring language competence.

Unfortunately, all too often mathematics teachers neglect teaching problem-solving skills in the regular program. For example, consider the question about how many games need to be played in a single-elimination basketball tournament with 25 teams competing to get a winner? Most students would simulate the situation by following the winners step by step. This would be time-consuming and open to slight calculation errors. A clever problem-solving technique here would be to consider the situation from an alternative point of view. That is, consider how many games need to be played to get 24 losers?  This question is very simply answered - 24 games - with a clever problem-solving technique of adopting a different point of view. I use this example only because it is brief and makes the point of demonstrating a clever problem-solving approach, one that we should expose our students to during their regular instruction program.

Reading competence is not the only distractor from this assessment of mathematics skills. There is also the cultural factor that could put immigrant students at a disadvantage when they do not understand the topic being described. Whenever math test questions are put into "a real world context," there is always the concern about what is "real-world" for urban students may not be in the real-world of a rural students. Even if the students can read well, there could be a time delay factor as the student struggles to understand what is actually being asked. Therefore, the less verbiage used in presenting a mathematics question, the more accurate the mathematics assessment would be. So let's focus on the problem solving skills in mathematics without the distraction from other skill sets. We would be equally displeased if a reading question on the verbal section of the SAT were to be engrossed in scientific or mathematical themes, which would discriminate against those unfamiliar with the topic. So let's keep the mathematics section purely mathematical. After all, isn't that what we are trying to assess. # 

"Adapt...Adapt...Adapt..." Dr. Ram Raju of NYC Health + Hospitals Tells Grads

New York, N.Y. - June 8, 2016 - At a festive gathering at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater last week, the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine graduated its sixth class, conferring diplomas upon 123 candidates for the doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree.  The hall was packed with the graduates' families and friends for the jubilant ceremony, at which the new doctors were reminded by their keynote speaker that medicine is changing rapidly and they must "adapt...adapt...adapt..."

"If you are adaptable, if you are flexible, if you remain open to learning new skills, new methods, new approaches to the practice of medicine, then you will succeed," Ramanathan Raju, M.D., president and CEO of NYC Health+ Hospitals told the graduates.  "Because medicine is in a constant state of creative flux."

Dr. Raju said the healthcare landscape the graduates will be practicing in will shift from one that is "hospital-centric" to one that is characterized by chronic disease management, preventive health, and ambulatory care.

 "You'll experience more standardization and less autonomy..and the need to follow best practice guidelines," he said. "The empowered patient safety movement is forcing health care to be more accountable and safer than ever before....increasingly, outcomes will be the source of reimbursement rather than volume. Our results will be closely scrutinized and publicized as never before."

 Dr. Raju cautioned, "We can get out in front of these changes or we can be dragged along kicking and screaming. We can be change agents or we can be vilified in public opinion" for refusing to embrace change, advising the graduates he was sure they would "make the right [choice] because helping patients and embracing changes that will improve their health is the reason we went into medicine." 

Most of the graduates will be heading to residencies at selective hospitals renowned for their excellent training, and indeed half of the class chose primary care. Slightly over half are staying in the New York metropolitan area with a majority working in medically underserved communities.  

Executive Dean Robert Goldberg expressed his optimism about the Class of 2016, and congratulated them on their success. He reminded them of the competition they faced for their seats - only one out of 60 applicants were chosen. He described the interview process as a key element, during which the school was looking for "the secret sauce," as he explained it.  "We asked ourselves, 'When we blend this together can we produce something that's going to work for the future?' Looking at you today we know that we did a good job."

Congratulating the new doctors on behalf of Touro President Dr. Alan Kadish, Provost Patricia Salkin also touched on the theme of change, noting that the future doctors' patients will be confronted with health challenges that today may not even be known, but that the graduates have committed themselves to a lifetime of education and self-directed learning.

 "We are proud to be associated with you because you have committed yourselves to a career in the service to others. They will look to you for hope...for relief...to raise their spirits. Now it is your turn...to make a difference one person at a time," she said.

Numerous awards were presented. Marta Wronska received the Dean's Award for the highest academic standing, as well as the Excellence in the Preclinical Years Award; Aldo Manresa received the Excellence in the Clinical Years Award; and Gabrielle Rozenberg received the DO Student of the Year Award.

Founding Dean and Dean Emeritus Martin Diamond, DO, received the Sheldon Sirota Medal, established in recognition of Sheldon Sirota, DO, for his tireless efforts in establishing four colleges of osteopathic medicine and other programs. 

Two graduates, Jemima Akinsanya and Jean Shiraki, won the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) Community Service Award. Dr. Akinsanya focused on helping underrepresented minorities gain a foothold in medicine and mentoring youth in Harlem who might one day want to pursue a career in health or science.  Dr. Shiraki donated her time helping students learn the policy process as well as service. She took on leading roles in the American Medical Association and MSSNY, where she directed programs and advocated on issues affecting minority communities.

About the Touro College and University System

Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 18,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has 29 branch campuses, locations and instructional sites in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College, Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus, as well as Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: http://www.touro.edu/news/

LD Innovation Symposium

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Diverse Technologies for Diverse Minds
Friday, September 30, 2016

Keynote by Dr. Jan Plass, Chair in Digital Media and Learning Sciences at NYU 
"Adaptivity and Personalization for Learning"

Adaptivity and Personalization for learning are highly popular notions, for academics and ed tech vendors alike, yet the concepts themselves are poorly defined, and the science of learning behind them is often under-defined or completely lacking. In this talk I will first distinguish among customization, personalization, and adaptivity. I will then propose a taxonomy for adaptivity that will allow for a more systematic discourse about this important topic and more effective evaluation of educational environments that claim to be adaptive. I will illustrate the use of this taxonomy on examples involving adaptivity based on cognitive, emotional, motivational, and socio-cultural variables.

Special Guest Presentation by Dr. Roger Tucker, Founder, Sonocent Software 
"Harnessing the Power of Spoken Language for UDL using Sonocent Software"

Written text can be a huge barrier to learning for so many students, but it is not a necessary one. Sonocent makes software that enables students to effectively learn and express themselves using spoken language. From note taking to writing assignments, Sonocent software breaks complex writing tasks into manageable steps, scaffolding many study processes and removing the need for writing entirely for some people. The software enables users to work with images, text and audio in a simple interface, enabling students to combine information from almost all sources in one place. It is currently being used by over 100,000 students across hundreds of institutions, some of whom see their average GPAs rise by as many as 3 points when using the software.This presentation will explain why and how we should be harnessing the power of spoken language to help students study independently and reach their potential, demonstrating how students use Sonocent for note taking and other study skills.

Special Guest Presentation by Dr. Matthew Schneps
Director, Laboratory for Visual Learning
"Rethinking the Technologies We Use for Reading"

Whether we read using a computer, a cell phone, or on a sheet of parchment penned by a quill, reading necessarily invokes use of a technology.  While people differ in their abilities to read, how much of this is simply a consequence of the technology itself?  New research suggests that reading is fundamentally limited by some basic design choices made in formulating the technology of reading, and that through judicious reconceptualization of such technology people --including those regarded as reading impaired-- can substantially improve their capacity for reading.  In this session we will review the emerging literature in this field and consider new perspectives on reading disability implied by these links to technology. The session will offer practical suggestions practitioners can immediately take away and apply to make reading more efficient and inclusive.

We will use an Apple/Android smartphone app called Voice Dream Reader to illustrate some of the ideas presented, and participants may enjoy having this on their device during the presentation to follow along more closely.

Also featuring our Technology Playground

The Tech Playground is an interactive, audience participation segment of the LD Symposium. It is set up like a technology fair, with individual presenters at tables demonstrating technology or apps they use. Our focus is on technology that supports personal or professional productivity. In the past we've highlighted wellness apps, apps for facilitating conversations for individuals on the autism spectrum, note-taking tools, and many others.

Registration and pricing information

Click the link to take you to the registration page.

Early Bird (by 9/9)

    $129

Standard (9/10 - 9/30)

    $179

Dual PVD attendee

(what's this?)

     $75

Alumni

*for Landmark College alumni,

including Certificate Program

students, only.

     $35

 

 

By Jacob M. Appel MD

Boufford.jpg"I've never been a big activist from the outside, but from the inside," says Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, President of the New York Academy of Medicine. "I liked clinical practice a lot and I really enjoyed working with the patients," she explains, noting that she practiced pediatrics for fifteen years, "but I felt I would have more impact entering the policy arena or the management arena, working on institutional change or policy change." Her groundbreaking career witnessed her becoming the first woman to run New York City's Health and Hospitals Corporation in 1985; later, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services under President Clinton and as dean of NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Since 2007, at the helm of the 169-year-old Academy, one of the nation's leading healthcare advocacy organizations, she has brought this experience to bear on systemic factors affecting the wellbeing of New Yorkers.

In the nineteenth century, the organization addressed many of the urban public health crises that we now associate with the developing world: sewage disposal, nutritional deficiencies of childhood, infectious disease prevention. More recently, and especially under Boufford's leadership, the Academy has expanded its approach. "We're working very far upstream in terms of realizing that the way in which people can prevent illness is by changing communities....It's fine and dandy to say eat well, to say exercise...but if you live in a community that doesn't have those resources available, we end up with 'victim blaming'" which is precisely what advocates strive to avoid. While many other healthcare nonprofits focus on more traditional notions of medicine such as clinical care and access, the Academy has been tackling broader determinants of health--education, housing, transportation. 

Two major initiatives currently underway at the Academy focus on healthy aging and healthcare disparities. The former began as a pilot program in East Harlem, with the Academy asking elderly community members what they saw as challenges. Among those items at the top of the list was an opportunity to swim at public pools, which led to the establishment of senior swimming hours--first in Harlem and later throughout the city. A similar initiative on the Upper West Side resulted in earlier hours at the Apple Store, so seniors could learn how to use computers, and shopping assistance at Fairway Market. The goal is to make New York an "aging friendly" city. And while the Academy's work is focused on New York, Boufford observes that the city's size and prominence mean that the world is often watching, and initiatives spearheaded in New York have the potential to spread well beyond its borders.

Boufford is herself a product of the South. She was born in North Carolina and lived in Atlanta, Georgia, until age twelve, when her family relocated to New York City, then later moved again to Michigan. As a result, she attended large public schools, but also spent a year at the Chapin School in Manhattan, which gave her "a taste for women's education." That led her to Wellesley, then the University of Michigan, from which she earned both a BA in psychology and a medical degree. She was one of 25 female students in a class of 220. As a female student, she did not feel she faced overt discrimination, but rather "there wasn't a differentiation to recognize your presence"; for instance, at convocation, the dean welcomed the students as "gentlemen." Over time, especially during her early policy career, she grew used "to being the only woman in the room." Among her most significant mentors and roll models were two non-physicians: Ruby Hearn, a senior vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Margaret Mahoney, a former president of the Commonwealth Foundation, who was "one of the first women in national philanthropy" and "someone who was clearly positive about women being engaged." She also admired former Montefiore President Martin Cherkasky, an early employer, who was among the first hospital administrators to "put his head above the parapet of his own institution" to emphasis the overall health of the city's residents. 

Although Boufford's path has been anything but traditional, she urges those interested in healthcare policy or management to earn their medical degrees. "Medicine is a fabulous field to go into because it offers you a tremendous amount of flexibility," she says "You have your tickets in term of whatever you want to do." #

TerryFulmer.jpgThe New York Academy of Medicine is proud to announce the recipients of its prestigious annual awards for distinguished contributions by individuals in health policy, public health, clinical practice, biomedical research and an individual who has made significant contributions to the Academy. The awards will be presented at the Academy's 169th Anniversary Discourse & Awards on Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. at the Academy which is free and open to the public with registration. If not already a Fellow of the Academy, each awardee will also be recognized at the event as an honorary Fellow.

"The individuals recognized this year have each made significant contributions to the health of the public through innovative research, practice, policy, or programs that address the complex determinants of health," said Jo Ivey Boufford, MD, Academy President. "The New York Academy of Medicine is proud to honor each of these leaders for their outstanding accomplishments."

Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, President of the John A. Hartford Foundation, will receive The New York Academy of Medicine's Award for Exceptional Service to the Academy for her distinguished service on the Academy's Board of Trustees, including as Vice-Chair, and her active engagement in the policy work of the Academy, especially its Age-friendly NYC initiative. #

Office of the President | September 13, 2016

Dear Friends of The Rockefeller University,

I'm delighted that my first communication with you as Rockefeller's new president is to share some splendid news. The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced this morning that Charles M. Rice, the University's Maurice R. and Corinne P. Greenberg Professor in Virology and Head of our Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease, has been named a recipient of the 2016 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. Dr. Rice will share this award with Ralf F. W. Bartenschlager of Heidelberg University and Michael J. Sofia of Arbutus Biopharma. The award recognizes their critical contributions to the development of a cure for Hepatitis C, a chronic viral infection of the liver that affects 170 million people worldwide and until now has resulted in 350,000 deaths annually. 

Charles Rice Dr. Rice's seminal work defined the elements necessary for robust replication of the Hepatitis C virus in cell culture, a discovery that allowed rapid cell-based screening and led to the development of potent drugs that directly inhibit viral replication. Treatment with a combination of two of these drugs now cures virtually all affected individuals with negligible side effects--an extraordinary advance destined to save millions of lives.

Charles Rice was recruited to Rockefeller in 2000 thanks to the visionary philanthropy of University Trustee Emeritus Maurice R. Greenberg and his wife, Corinne. Over the years, Dr. Rice's work has received substantial support from the Greenberg Medical Research Institute, Inc. (funded by the Greenbergs and The Starr Foundation). As a result, Dr. Rice and his research team had the resources, time, and encouragement needed to tackle Hep C. The resulting impact on human health is enormous.

With Dr. Rice's selection, 22 Rockefeller scientists have now received Lasker Awards, including eight who are on our faculty today. It's an astonishing record.

Charlie Rice's remarkable work is the embodiment of the Rockefeller credo, "Science for the benefit of humanity." I know that you share our pride in his well-deserved recognition! 

With best wishes,

Rick

Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D. 
President
The Rockefeller University 

NEW YORK - Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña joined students, community members, staff and local officials today to celebrate the opening of The Dock Street School for STEAM Studies, providing 330 new middle school seats for District 13 families. The brand new space will feature state-of-the-art facilities including a science lab, science demo room, a gymatorium, and a music suite with classroom space and separate practice rooms.

 

Students in grades 6 through 8 from across District 13 will engage in hands-on, collaborative projects in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) fields. By integrating art and design into the curriculum, the school will offer an enriched academic experience in which students can find and explore new passions and become better prepared for college, careers and beyond.

 

"Opening a new school is a remarkable investment in our City's future, and The Dock Street School will provide a high-quality education to students across the community," said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. "STEAM studies provide hands-on opportunities that engage students while integrating art and design into more traditional subjects, so that students can use applied knowledge to develop problem solving and collaboration skills."

 

Instruction in these subjects will also incorporate programs built in partnership with local institutions, including cultural performances and workshops at St. Ann's Warehouse, and recreational activities at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Located at 19 Dock Street in Dumbo, the uniquely designed school is just one block away from the East River at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

"The District 13 community has been instrumental in the development of this school," said Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose. "Families, teachers and local leaders are deeply invested in creating a supportive and inclusive school community for their children, and The Dock Street School will provide high-quality and much-needed middle school seats for students across the district to engage in STEAM studies."   

 

In partnership with Two Trees Management, the School Construction Authority completed work on the space this summer in time for the start of the 2016-2017 school year. The building also includes a new Pre-K Center, providing 72 new free, full-day, high quality pre-K seats in the district.

 

"This brand-new facility provides beautiful amenities for students to learn, grow, and thrive.  I am proud of the SCA's work on the Dock Street School, which adds much-needed new seats in District 13," said Lorraine Grillo, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York City School Construction Authority. "The SCA is grateful to Two Trees for their tremendously important partnership on this project, and we thank District 13 elected officials and other stakeholders for their support of this new school."

 

"The success of the Dock Street School is a model that shows how the City can leverage real estate values to create public benefits like building new schools, creating space for cultural institutions or updating infrastructure," said Two Trees Management Company CEO Jed Walentas."Today represents a victory for good planning and strong leadership that delivered real benefits to the students and parents of District 13 at a bargain price for the City in addition to much needed affordable housing."

 

The former M.S. 313 Satellite West was re-sited into the space and the newly redesigned school is projected to serve approximately 140 students in 2016-2017. As 6th-grade cohorts expand over the next three years, the school is expected to increase enrollment to serve more than 350 students by the 2018-2019 school year, when the building is expected to be more fully utilized.

 

"The Dock Street School is a tremendous addition for families in District 13, offering middle school students a unique educational experience grounded in STEAM studies," said District 13 Superintendent Barbara Freeman. "Under the extraordinary leadership of Principal Dr. Melissa Vaughan, the Dock Street School will provide a high-quality education to students in the area."

"In partnership with staff, families and community members, we are proud to be a part of the team that gets to open the doors to this truly remarkable building for students to come in and learn," said Dr. Melissa Vaughan, principal of The Dock Street School for STEAM Studies. "Students joining us this school year will become part of a special community of learners with access to the facilities, partnerships and innovative curriculum needed to succeed and thrive in the classroom and in their daily lives outside of school." 

 

Additional information is available on the school's website: http://dockstreetschool.nyc/

 

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BY SYBIL MAIMIN

 

Young, enthusiastic fans of children's author Mo Willems are currently flocking to  the New York Historical Society where they are rewarded with a delightful, kid-friendly exhibit, "The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems." Giggles, shrieks of delight, and familiarity greeted the author and illustrator during the exhibit's opening week-end when, before a packed auditorium,  he read from two of his books, "I Really Like Slop" and "Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale." Tall, slim, and dressed in "happy" attire including electric orange sneakers, the author, who has received the Caldecott Honor award three times, shared wisdom about his works with his audience:  "Everything is true except the parts I made up," and "When a teacher says, It's writing time, it's lying time. Start with the truth and say, This is a story." On stage, as in his work, Willems seems to understand his young admirers and connects with them viscerally. 

Willems studied animation at NYU Tisch School of the Arts in the 1980's and went on to nine very successful seasons with Sesame Street where he won 6 Emmys. Seeking greater artistic freedom, he began writing children's picture books, starting with "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" in 2003. He is known for economy of line, visual gags, and illustrations that focus on feelings. "All my characters are thoroughly neurotic and have very deep emotional lives," he explains. Willems has written four children's picture book series. The "Knuffle Bunny" trilogy is about the relationship between Brooklynite Trixie (his daughter's name) and her beloved stuffed animal, a letting-go tale. The "Pigeon" series features a  strong-willed unpredictable urban bird. Since his creation, Pigeon has made cameo appearances in all Willem's books. The author explains, "Pigeon hates it when I make a book that is not about him, so he sneaks in." The "Elephant and Piggie" series is about unlikely friends and is especially suited to readers aged 4 to 8. The "Cat the Cat" series, geared to younger readers (ages 2 to 5) features bright colors and simple, engaging themes. Writing early books is especially challenging, Willems notes. A story must be conveyed with about 50 words. "You just don't knock out children's books," he says.  "It has to be something that can be read a billion times. It has to be a kid's friend." 

The exhibit includes framed illustrations from his works, ten stations designed to resemble bus stops where, through headphones, visitors can hear Willems explain his artistic process and the development of his characters, and comfortable reading areas filled with his books. The New York Historical Society is offering a broad array of family programming to enhance visits to the exhibit including story times, gallery sketching with art materials similar to those used by Willems, movies, birthday parties, and tattoos. Opening weekend offered photo opportunities with Gerald the Elephant and Piggie costumed characters and a book signing with the author. It was an exciting time for all. The exhibit runs through September 25. 

 

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