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What defined 2014 for Chalkbeat readers? Pre-K, a new contract, and some successful students

Kids wait to go outside at the Saratoga Early Childhood Education Center.
Kids wait to go outside at the Saratoga Early Childhood Education Center.
Jessica Glazer

As the year comes to a close, Chalkbeat New York asked readers to share their most memorable education-related moments of 2014 for our first digital yearbook.

Here is a sample of some of the responses we received:

Deputy Mayor Richard Buery

“A mother who found a pre-K seat for her child near their Harlem homeless shelter, an Upper West Side parent so excited to enroll their child in the St. Gregory the Great program that they offered to volunteer to help spread the word about [community based organizations] and pre-K, a recent immigrant from Greece thrilled to place their child in pre-K close to home, and the father of a Bronx boy who said ‘I truly think it’s great what the Mayor is doing for the children of this city.’ These are the faces of pre-K in NYC and I was fortunate enough to hear their stories every night.

In addition to the thousands of calls, nail salons visits, enrollment fairs, and street-side conversations, our dedicated team of 40 enrollment specialists highlighted their incredible work by sharing stories of parent engagement every night with me. At the end of each day, in addition to the data and enrollment figures, I received a personal story from a parent and child about pre-K and these are some of my fondest memories of the school year.

These stories highlight what is so great about Pre-K for All and our City: parents of every race, religion, country and class, all searching for success for their children. And while we engage in the hard work to prepare for next year, I know that I have thousands of more stories to look forward to.”

Zalykha María Mokim, Founding ELL Dept. Leader and Writing Seminar Teacher at MESA Charter High School in Brooklyn

A vocal therapist works with a colleague. K. Teets

“Having the privilege to be able to tell English Language Learner students – who came to us saying ‘No Inglés’ – that they not only showed dramatic gains in language acquisition, but they passed their Regents exams and then seeing them at the beginning of the new year to continue pushing them!”

UFT President Michael Mulgrew Geoff Decker

Michael Mulgrew, United Federation of Teachers President, said his most memorable moment of the year was when the union approved the “long-awaited” new contract deal with the city in June.

“Teachers certainly deserved the raise, and making sure professional development became part of the school day was key,” Mulgrew said. “But one of my favorite parts of the new contract is the PROSE initiative – giving schools more room to come up with their own innovations. That’s something I would have loved when I was in the classroom.”

Noah Mackert, 7th Grade English Teacher at Democracy Prep Charter Middle School in Harlem

“We did a close reading of some Nietzsche during our unit on ‘The Giver.’ I had never before heard seventh graders say wise things about the purpose of suffering. Abdul asked to stand up so he could speak more emphatically. Now if they’re bored, I know it’s my fault.”

Geoff Decker

Karen Sprowal was among the advocates who raised student privacy concerns over a data-sharing agreement between the State Education Department and InBloom, a national nonprofit data-storing organization funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sprowal said, “hands down,” her most memorable moment of the year was when a panel advising the governor recommended severing ties with inBloom. By April, state lawmakers ended New York’s partnership with the organization, and inBloom shut down shortly afterwards.

“After spending millions, the pushback from New York ‘amateur parent advocates’ who lobbied to strengthen New York student privacy laws and lawsuit ended this potentially lucrative and powerful deal for Bill Gates,” Sprowal said.

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