“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”~ Emile Buchwald
Dear Sisulu-Walker Charter School Parent/ Guardian,
Thank you for choosing Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem as your educational partner! We are excited about the upcoming academic year and helping your child reach his/her fullest potential academically and socially each day. As your child’s first teacher, we welcome your support and guidance in helping us on our quest to increase student achievement and close the achievement gap.
We have entered a new phase in education reform in New York State with the introduction of the Common Core State Standards. We are all charged with preparing students for the demands of college and 21st century careers using the standards as a roadmap. Although schools have the same roadmap, it is up to individual schools to decide what route will be taken to help students master the skills and concepts needed for lifelong success. The standards are to guide us as we intensify our efforts to create productive citizens. Priorities for our instructional program this year will include:
- A shift towards more persuasive (argumentative) and expository writing.
- More opportunities for alternate modes of practice through games, projects and experiments.
- Explicit instruction on navigating the demands of nonfiction reading and writing.
- Continuing to expand the speaking, listening, reading and writing vocabularies of our students.
- Further integration of our core values into all facets of instruction.
As part of our commitment to Achievement, Honor and Service, Sisulu-Walker will continue to celebrate the academic and social accomplishments of students frequently throughout the year and you are invited to celebrate with us. As our educational partner, you can assist us with all of our endeavors by committing to the following:
- Send your child to school each day on time; instruction begins at 8:00am sharp.
- Set aside time for your child to complete his/her homework each night.
- Ensure that your child completes his/her assigned daily reading (minutes will vary by grade level).
- Sign your child’s behavior log and speak with him/her about the attributes of a Sisulu-Walker Citizen nightly.
- Volunteer at the school as often as you can and become an active member of the Parent Organization.
In preparation for the launch of a successful school year, we have created the Family Handbook. We ask that you read this document carefully and review the content with your child. Then sign and return the Statement of Understanding to Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem in your child’s homework folder. Signing the Statement of Understanding confirms your acknowledgment and agreement with the policies and procedures listed. If you have any remaining questions, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher or another member of the school’s leadership team.
We are looking forward to a fruitful school year and partnership with you. With your ongoing support, the 2014-15 academic year will be enjoyable and productive for our children.
Michelle K. Haynes
The instructional focus of Sisulu-Walker is on the core skills of reading, language and mathematics. The school utilizes standards-based balanced literacy/balanced math curricula that emphasizes the mastery of essential reading and math skills, as well as the development of higher order thinking and processing ability. Sisulu-Walker's academic and instructional programs are designed to meet the needs of all its students, a significant percentage of whom enroll at or below grade level upon entry to the school.
Sisulu-Walker's balanced literacy English-Language Arts ("ELA") and reading curriculum is comprised of the following elements:
- An extended block of instruction in ELA for all students each school day
- The use of a research proven, standards-based core reading program
- The use of trade books and classroom libraries
- New student preassessment using a widely-used standardized assessment test
- Interim and year-end tests, providing both on-going assessment and data regarding end-of-year student performance
- A phonics and phonemic awareness component to develop and support basic reading skills
- Comprehensive and on-going staff development regarding specific ELA curriculum implementation and strategies
Sisulu-Walker's balanced math curriculum is comprised of the following primary elements:
- An extended block of instruction in math for all students each school day
- The use of a research proven, standards-based core math program
- An introduction for children to all the major mathematical content domains, including number sense, algebra, measurement, geometry, data analysis and probability beginning in kindergarten
- An emphasis on developing within children higher-order and critical thinking skills
- A blend of student exposition and discussion, individual and group work projects, explorations, investigations and math games to ensure fact power
- Comprehensive and on-going staff development regarding specific math curriculum implementation and strategies