Happy New Year from my family to yours!  This year, we celebrated in true pandemic style — dressed from the waist up, pajamas from the waist down.  Gotta have a little fun, you know?

Usually during breaks from school, I like to get out of my head and into my hands.  I work on projects around the house, dive back into my own artmaking practice, cook elaborate meals, and simply spend time with loved ones.  This year pretty much followed suit — I renovated a bathroom, finished making a coffee table, reorganized my studio, played with Aruna, and relaxed with my hubby and dad.  It was wonderful to unplug and meander through each of the eleven days we were on Winter Break.

During this time off, I kept returning to a deep feeling of gratitude for my incredible colleagues and families in our community. 2020 was truly like no other, and I couldn’t imagine any other community I would’ve wanted to problem-solve the way through the year with. Let’s jump into this new year with all of the hope and optimism that a new year brings and continue our honest and candid partnership with one another.  Cheers to turning the corner to 2021!


Happy Week 17, everyone!



This Week’s Topics

(click a topic below to link directly to that text — works better in the Google Doc than email, by the way…)

Noteworthy Upcoming Dates: 2

Arbor Day Poster Contest for 5th Grade 3

4th and 5th Grade Update 3

Reminder: Intensives and Electives begin this week 4

Teresa Thayer Snyder: What Shall We Do About the Children After the Pandemic 4

Advocacy Alert! 6

Care Center Site 7

Enrollment 2021-22 7

Purchase CNH Gear Online!! 8

Donations to the School 8

Helpful Links 8


Noteworthy Upcoming Dates:

Monday, January 18

No School — MLK Day

January 19, 21, 23

Progressive Ed Summit — Free and Open to the Public!

  • Tuesday, January 19 at 7 pm – Keynote Speaker – Dr. Lisa Delpit, author of the seminal works Other People’s Children and Multiplication is for White People.

  • Thursday, January 21 between 5 and 8 pm for Workshop Night.  Practitioner-led workshops that are the heart of our Summit with educators sharing great  innovative practices with others.

  • Saturday, January 23 from 9 am to noon for the first every Reimagining Education event. Featuring Dr. Crystal Laura, Dr. Kaleb Rashad, and Dr. Jal Mehta.

February 2-5 (revised dates from original calendar)

Progress Report Conferences — Classes end at 12:30 (dismissal time revised from original calendar)

Monday, February 15

No School — Presidents Day


Arbor Day Poster Contest for 5th Grade

The Maryland Forest Service hosts a 5th grade poster contest every year for Arbor Day.  This year’s theme is: Trees are Terrific and Forest Products are too! The winning posters will receive a tree planting at the school.

Statewide Winners will receive a tree planting at your school with:

1st – 15 trees

2nd – 10 trees

3rd – 5 trees


The deadline January 15. Ms. Cohen is happy to help students with their poster designs this Friday!  Please reach out to her at hcohen@cityneighborshamilton.org for support.

Native tree planting goes along really nicely with the work “greening” the school. Thanks to the hard work of CNH parent, Ashley Traut, we have received two grants from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to support work around the building of the school.  We have worked with engineers for planting rain gardens, micro bioretention facilities, and other natural strategies to make sure that rain water is filtered before going into the sewers and draining into the Chesapeake Bay.  When we return to school in-person, students will be able to participate in the work around the building!

If your child submits a poster, please let Dr. Shyla know (srao@cityneighborshamilton.org)  — whether it is selected or not in the contest, we would love to celebrate the work of our students!!


4th and 5th Grade Update

We are excited to announce that Ms. Tara McGarvey will be filling in for Mr. O while he is out on paternity leave this month. The 4th and 5th grade families received letters from both Ms. McGarvey and Mr. O before break, and we realized that other families might be interested in congratulating Mr. O and welcoming Ms. McGarvey back to CNH this month!  For those who don’t know, Ms. McGarvey taught at CNH for almost a decade as the 4th and 5th grade Humanities teacher. We are lucky to have Mr. O’s classes in such great hands!  For those who know and love Ms. McGarvey, feel free to send her a message at tmcgarvey@cityneighborshamilton.org. For those whose children will be working with her this month, feel free to introduce yourself to her.  She is so excited to be back with us again in this capacity!

(If you haven’t realized this yet, our teachers never really leave… they may leave their position to focus on their own children, but they stick around mentoring new teachers at the school, tutoring students, and offering their expertise when needed.  It is such a beautiful community!)


Reminder: Intensives and Electives begin this week

Ms. Kachaelar and Mr. Jerred updated each student’s individual schedule right before break. Just as we have learned this year, even with them doing an AMAZING job taking on this task, there are bound to be glitches.  Please email Kachaelar Jones (kjones@cityneighborshamilton.org) and Jerred Anderson (janderson@cityneighborshamilton.org) if you face any challenges with the schedules.  They will be able to best assist you in the transition to the updated schedules!

4th and 5th grade families — Ms. McGarvey has a different Zoom link than Mr. O.  — Just in case there is a glitch in the updated schedules… If you find that your child has trouble entering their ELA classes, try this link: https://bcps-k12-md-us.zoom.us/j/2135990604


Teresa Thayer Snyder: What Shall We Do About the Children After the Pandemic

By dianeravitch

December 12, 2020

Teresa Thayer Snyder was superintendent of the Voorheesville district in upstate New York. She wrote this wise and insightful essay on her Facebook page. A friend sent it to me.

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am writing today about the children of this pandemic. After a lifetime of working among the young, I feel compelled to address the concerns that are being expressed by so many of my peers about the deficits the children will demonstrate when they finally return to school. My goodness, what a disconcerting thing to be concerned about in the face of a pandemic which is affecting millions of people around the country and the world. It speaks to one of my biggest fears for the children when they return. In our determination to “catch them up,” I fear that we will lose who they are and what they have learned during this unprecedented era. What on earth are we trying to catch them up on? The models no longer apply, the benchmarks are no longer valid, the trend analyses have been interrupted. We must not forget that those arbitrary measures were established by people, not ordained by God. We can make those invalid measures as obsolete as a crank up telephone! They simply do not apply.

When the children return to school, they will have returned with a new history that we will need to help them identify and make sense of. When the children return to school, we will need to listen to them. Let their stories be told. They have endured a year that has no parallel in modern times. There is no assessment that applies to who they are or what they have learned. Remember, their brains did not go into hibernation during this year. Their brains may not have been focused on traditional school material, but they did not stop either. Their brains may have been focused on where their next meal is coming from, or how to care for a younger sibling, or how to deal with missing grandma, or how it feels to have to surrender a beloved pet, or how to deal with death. Our job is to welcome them back and help them write that history.

I sincerely plead with my colleagues, to surrender the artificial constructs that measure achievement and greet the children where they are, not where we think they “should be.” Greet them with art supplies and writing materials, and music and dance and so many other avenues to help them express what has happened to them in their lives during this horrific year. Greet them with stories and books that will help them make sense of an upside-down world. They missed you. They did not miss the test prep. They did not miss the worksheets. They did not miss the reading groups. They did not miss the homework. They missed you.

Resist the pressure from whatever ‘powers that be’ who are in a hurry to “fix” kids and make up for the “lost” time. The time was not lost, it was invested in surviving an historic period of time in their lives—in our lives. The children do not need to be fixed. They are not broken. They need to be heard. They need be given as many tools as we can provide to nurture resilience and help them adjust to a post pandemic world.

Being a teacher is an essential connection between what is and what can be. Please, let what can be demonstrate that our children have so much to share about the world they live in and in helping them make sense of what, for all of us has been unimaginable. This will help them– and us– achieve a lot more than can be measured by any assessment tool ever devised. Peace to all who work with the children!


Advocacy Alert!


Care Center Site

Families can access the Care Center Site by accessing the CNH Family Site and clicking on the Family Resources tab. You can also click here to access the site. Students, teachers, and families can find different ways to support social-emotional learning on this site. You can also use this site to get in touch with Ms. Lauren & Mr. Jerred.

Care Center Week Ahead

  • Mindful Monday

  • Wellness Wednesday

  • Find a Friend Friday


Enrollment 2021-22

The 2021-22 enrollment season is in full swing!


City Neighbors Hamilton is now accepting enrollment applications for next school year.  The deadline to receive applications from new families for inclusion in the enrollment lottery is 3 PM February 3, 2021.

Upcoming Enrollment Open Houses will be held virtually as follows:  January 9, 3-4 PM, January 26, 9 AM

Links for the virtual Open Houses will be on our website:  www.cityneighborshamilton.org

Please spread the word!


The deadline to receive applications for siblings of current students and children of school staff is January 22, 2021.  If your child currently attends CNH, there is no need to reapply.  Intent to Return forms will be sent and collected in January.  Siblings and children of staff will not be included in the enrollment lottery, HOWEVER, you must submit an enrollment application by January 22, 2021 in order for us to have an accurate count of open seats when we conduct our lottery.

Enrollment applications can be downloaded from http://cityneighborshamilton.org/apply/

and should be emailed to applications@cityneighborshamilton.org.  Be sure to clearly indicate “sibling” on the application.  Please be aware that the Sibling Preference Policy only applies to siblings of current City Neighbors Hamilton students.  It does not apply to siblings of students who are enrolled at City Neighbors Charter School or City Neighbors High School.

If you have any questions about enrollment, please reach out to Enrollment Coordinator, Stephanie King at sking@cityneighborshamilton.org.


Purchase CNH Gear Online!

Want to represent CNH in all ways?  You can purchase shirts, hoodies, mugs, phone cases, etc on our new TeePublic storefront!  Click here to check out our products!


Donations to the School

If you would like to donate money to the school (for any reason), the easiest ways are through our PayPal account.  Please add a note, no matter how you might donate, with how you would like it used (general educational expenses, technology, arts, etc).

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

  • The CNH Academic Calendar — This gives all important dates for this year (end of each trimester, Progress Report Conferences dates, etc.)

  • CNH Family  Site — This is one-stop shopping for families (links to Google Classrooms, Family  Resources, the Care Center, Tutorial Videos, etc.)

  • School Schedule Spreadsheet — This document has each grade’s schedule with links to Zoom meetings in one mega spreadsheet.  (NOTE: Student schedules are also posted in every Google Classroom with links to Zoom meetings)

  • Family  Participation Hours Log — Any time you participate in a meeting with a staff member, attend a school event, participate in progress report conferences, or attend Committee Night, complete this form so that we can keep track of your participation!  Every family needs to log 40 hours of participation each year.

  • CNH Main Website — Here is the main website with information about the school and resources.

  • CNH Care Center Site — Find resources for supporting your child’s (and your own) social-emotional learning needs as well as see the videos posted for our morning meetings each week.

  • COVID Testing Sites — If you are experiencing symptoms, click this link to find a testing site near you.

  • Meal Sites — This site provides information for meal sites as well as other resources for accessing food.

  • Shyla Rao’s appointment calendar — Feel free to make an appointment if you have questions, comments, or concerns. Shyla looks forward to meeting with you!