We are growing microgreens in my home using an aquaponics system with a betta fish (hiding somewhere in the picture above behind the plants..). The system amazes me – Water from the fish bowl is carried up to the top, filled with ceramic balls and seeds. The seeds grow roots around the ceramic balls.  Water flows over the roots and back into the tank. The two parts nourish and clean each other. 

This aquaponics system makes me think about the relationship between our school and our families. In the next six months, as I help the school transition to new leadership, I’d like us to intentionally consider how we can ensure the symbiotic relationship between families and the school – the wonderful partnership that is CNH!  

Have a wonderful week, everyone, 

–Dr. Shyla.


Noteworthy Upcoming Dates:


Date(s) Notes
Friday, February 18 NO SCHOOL – Staff professional development
Monday, February 21 NO SCHOOL – President’s Day
Friday, March 4, 6-7:30 Family Arts Night (Virtual)


From Mike Chalupa, Director of City Neighbors Foundation

Dear City Neighbors Hamilton Community,

On Friday you received the news of Shyla’s departure as principal of City Neighbors Hamilton at the end of this school year.  We are so grateful for the five years that she has dedicated to our school.    Under Shyla’s leadership, our school continued to grow and thrive in our commitment to progressive ideals of teaching, academic achievement, equity and social justice, and sustainability.   And, Shyla’s incredible leadership helped our school navigate the impacts of a global pandemic while staying strong and  true to our child-centered, community-based ideals of teaching and learning.   With Shyla’s leadership over these last years, we are an even stronger community, well-positioned for the future.   

As Shyla continues her dedicated work to City Neighbors Hamilton for the remainder of this year, we will simultaneously begin the search for our new school leader.   This search will be directed by The City Neighbors Hamilton Board of Directors – comprising nine parents, a teacher, the principal and a student – along with the City Neighbors Foundation.  The Board will create a Principal Hiring Committee to search, recruit, and hire the next Principal of City Neighbors Hamilton.   Shyla has offered, in every way possible, to support the hiring and onboarding of the next School Leader.   The Board of Directors (composed primarily of parents) will have final approval on the selection of the next Principal. 

The Principal Hiring Committee will include parents and teachers. This committee will help develop the specifics of the process, conduct the interviews, and make a final recommendation to the Board.   Clearly, not every parent and educator can serve on this committee.   But, we will need the input of all parents, teachers, and students along the way to make the best decisions!  

To that end, we are seeking two to three non-Board parents who are interested in participating on the Principal Hiring Committee.   This is a significant commitment of time, including evenings and possibly some weekends, and we ask that every member attend every step.  This means that, despite best efforts, we are each committing to re-arranging things in our other lives to be there.   However, this effort will have great rewards.  We will kick off our work on Thursday, February 10th, 6-8:30 pm.   If you are interested, please contact Mike Chalupa, City Neighbors Foundation Director, at mchalupa@cityneighbors.org no later than Thursday, February 3rd. Please note that, if there are more volunteers than positions, we will make selections and inform everyone by the following Monday.

All parents, whether on the committee or not, will have opportunities to participate. Parents should expect on-going updates on the Hiring Process, opportunities for input into search criteria and qualities, and opportunities to meet and provide feedback on finalists.

We have great work ahead of us.   Transitions and changes can bring great opportunities for growth, new perspectives and possibilities.   And, in our case, this transition is built on the great gifts that Shyla has brought and a strong foundation of City Neighbors  teachers, practices, traditions and community that continue to propel us forward.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to reach out. Otherwise, you will continue to hear from us in the weeks to come.

In partnership,

Christine Alamed, Board President, CNH            Mike Chalupa, City Neighbors Foundation


Shyla’s email sent last week:

Dear CNH Families,

I am writing to let you know that the end of this school year will mark the end of my tenure as principal at City Neighbors Hamilton. 

These past five years have been some of the most remarkable years of my professional career. We have built deep and meaningful relationships, built solid structures for learning, renewed our Charter Contract, and linked arms through an (yes, I’m going to use the word…) unprecedented three school years in a pandemic. Our staff developed a Scope and Sequence with multi-faceted ways of supporting learners’ growth and development while always maintaining the heart in the center of our work.  Our students continued to engage with hands-on learning and extended project studies while school was both virtual as well as in person. On a personal note, in the past five years, I moved houses, adopted my daughter, lost my mother, and built incredible friendships at CNH.  

There is a lot to celebrate from the past five years.  We have learned a lot, we have leaned into each other during the tumultuous times of the pandemic, and we have found joy in the work throughout.  

It has been an awesome ride with some hills and bumps along the way. Moving forward, I am going to focus my attention on publishing articles and possibly a book sharing some of my biggest learnings from my time at CNH as well as the important work that students engage with at City Neighbors schools. I will work to support school leaders and educators in developing student-centered, personally-meaningful, anti-racist curricula. I am also going to focus my attention on my almost 3 year old daughter who is the center of my everything and will only be 3 once. 

When third grade teacher Marilyn Pierce left her position at CNH, she declared herself a “lifer” and has never fully left, serving as mentor to new teachers over the past four years. I am going to appropriate that term for my own use – I am a City Neighbors Lifer. For about 10 years before I became the principal at CNH, I served as a community partner with City Neighbors – and I plan on continuing my support of the City Neighbors schools moving forward. I am committed to engaging with the search process for our next principal as well as the transition to new leadership in any ways that the school deems useful. 

Please know that this decision did not come lightly, nor with haste. The staff and I will spend the next 6 months thoughtfully planning the transition so that it is smooth and exciting for the community. You will be receiving an email from Mike Chalupa, Director of the City Neighbors Foundation, with ways in which you can help support the search process and transition to new leadership. Although it will be a significant time commitment, helping to select the next school leader for CNH is an important task worthy of your time and dedication.

Thanks for your partnership,



Virtual Open Houses

We have one more open house before the enrollment deadline on February 2, 2022. If you know of someone who is interested in CNH, please share the link with them.  We look forward to meeting new families!

Remaining Date for Open Houses (virtual):

  • Tues. Feb 1 — 6:00-7:00 

Link for the Open House:

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 679 801 2472

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Thanks for spreading the word!


Free At Home Covid Tests from the Government

The government is providing four free COVID at-home tests for every household.  Just go to this link and complete the form with your home address!


Posting Pictures on Social Media

This is a friendly reminder not to post pictures of other CNH students on social media or share them outside of our community in any way. Students have photo permission at various levels – and some are not permitted to be posted or shared outside of our internal communications. 

There are a variety of reasons why a student may not have photo permission – internet safety concerns, foster children, witness protection, and a variety of other legal reasons. If you want to post a picture of your child from a school event, please crop out or cover other student faces before posting.  

Thank you!  


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Donations to the School

If you would like to donate money to the school (for any reason), the easiest way is through our PayPal account. If you want your donation to go to a specific fund or activity (general educational expenses, technology, arts, etc), please note it with your donation. 

PayPal Donate Button on Website: https://cityneighborshamilton.org/

If you aren’t able to donate funds to the school right now, we always appreciate your donation of time supporting the general programming needs at our school (all virtual, of course).  If you would like to volunteer for the school, please email our Family Participation Board Director Elisabeth Hyleck at ehyleck@cityneighborshamilton.org


Helpful Links