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Archive for August, 2011

Please, don’t close your ears. 
You can learn from anyone no matter their age.  
Life is taking its course. 

I don’t want to tell you to be a more just person.  
I just want you to learn to keep record of what’s right and what’s wrong. 

Be fair in your judgment and know God lives with you.

Odarri Lewis ’11


At East-West, our goal is to prepare students with the habits and skills to lead them to success in university. For a new public school, we have a high number of students going on to university. We want all our students to go on to university, and not just here in New York City. We want to send our graduates to the small liberal arts colleges like Colgate and Vassar, and to the large name schools like Duke, Oberlin, Boston University, and Columbia.

This fall, East-West will expand its student support resources with the creation of the Odarri Lewis College Center. Located in the 404 hallway, the center will house exam and college preparation materials, as well as dedicated computers and work spaces for students to work on applications.

Odarri Lewis was a 12th grade student who passed away this year. He was a well-loved member of the East-West family and known for being a thoughtful scholar, artist, athlete, and friend. The center honors his dedication to pursuing excellence and knowledge by equipping students with the tools they need to prepare for their futures.

The center will feature a memorial plaque with a quote from Odarri to inspire his fellow students to reach their potential. At the unveiling, teachers and students shared stories about Odarri’s insights in class, his kindness and gentleness even as he towered over most students at 6 feet tall, his willingness to volunteer his time, and his determination in everything he did. Click for more student reflections: Honoring Odarri with Music

Students, teachers, and Odarri’s family gathered together to unveil his memorial plaque and announce the planned opening of the college center. View more photos from Odarri’s Memorial
Odarri’s dragon mural, which he painted during his sophomore year, will remain as a permanent installation in the hallway. View more photos from Odarri’s Memorial

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TEAM ELL is a multidisciplinary professional learning community of teachers and administrators dedicated to learning better ways to serve our English Language Learners.

By Ms. Cheng

Every week during the last school year, seven teachers and one administrator have met to form a unique professional learning community. Their fields of expertise include science, English, special education, history, ESL, and math.

Their mission? To work together to learn how to best serve our English Language Learners.

With the guidance of Holly Reichert, an ESL coach, first year teachers collaborated with veteran teachers to explore and practice new and improved methods of ESL teaching. As TEAM ELL, they grew together as a trusting community and shared their triumphs and challenges. “No one holds back. We say what we need to say,” says Ryo Shibata, a first-year physics teacher. Mr. Shibata learned to identify and develop effective practices in his teaching as a result of the meetings.

“Understanding and watching our ELL students helps us reach a deeper sense of humanity,” says Ms. Reichert.

During her 20 years of experience in teaching ESL and coaching teachers, Ms. Reichert once mentored Ben Sherman, the principal, during his career as an ESL teacher.

As an unscreened school, East-West goes beyond welcoming the ELL or special education students who pass through its doors by empowering its teachers to best serve their students with the greatest needs.

Marisol Bae, a new ESL teacher, “became a lot more aware of what our ELL students go through, especially the newcomers who have to not only adjust to a new language but to a totally new culture.” She added, “I have become more sensitive to each student as a whole, not just seeing a student with academic needs alone. Personally, I was reminded that as teachers, we need to continue to learn and grow.”

Both Ms. Bae and Melanie Katz felt that their new training on vocabulary instruction and scaffolding benefited their non-ELL and ELL students alike. As a math teacher, Ms. Katz says, “I can see the difference in the faces of my ELLs.  They are more relaxed and ready to learn.  Their grades have improved.  They will ask questions more, because it is a safe environment. I see their speech and pronunciation improve.”

Mala Panday, the assistant principal, collaborates with Ms. Reichert through weekly meetings: “TEAM ELL made me realize the importance of having a staff member interview new ESL students to better learn about their linguistic needs. Next year, we will have this.” Ms. Panday also plans to institute a buddy system for new ELL students as a result of working with TEAM ELL.

Next year, the team plans to go deeper and begin a study to gather data about ELL students and measure the effectiveness of their practices.

Click here to visit the TEAM ELL homepage.

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