Last week was filled with new beginnings, new perspectives, challenges, celebrations, and frustrations. We started the school year fully online, in the middle of a global pandemic with many other layers of challenges impacting our country and lives —  economic downturn, increased unemployment and homelessness, continued and necessary racial uprising, and a polarized and acidic political climate leading up to a national election. With that, we started the school year with eager and engaged students, present and active parents, guardians and caregivers, and dedicated and enthusiastic teachers. I have continued to say, when the world is flipped on its head, at least it gives you a new perspective.


On Friday, I spent time reflecting upon another school year that flipped on its head very soon after it began.  On September 11, 2001, I taught middle school Art at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School. At the same time, I taught a graduate-level course at MICA on Arts Integration.  On that fateful morning, I was working with the graduate students at my school while a support teacher was with my Art students. The principal interrupted my class and asked me to join her in her office.  When I entered the office, I watched the second plane fly into the World Trade Center in New York City on her television.  Within moments, I needed to shift my perspective from fear of the unknown toward supporting my students. First, I informed the graduate students, where a number of those were from NYC and had family members at the site. Then, I returned to my  7th grade Art class and spent the morning with them trying to explain the unexplainable and maintain calmness until we were permitted to go home. The world as we knew it changed that morning.


I say all of this because the world as we know it has changed yet again. What I learned 19 years ago was that we are all in this crazy world together — supporting one another and finding rainbows in each other’s storms. Some of the richest teaching and learning I’ve ever seen in my 25 years as an educator occurred in 2001-2002. We were all making meaning of our world and figuring out where we fit into it.  As the sands shifted below our feet, we had to build our own foundation.  This year will truly be different.  This year will definitely have its own sets of challenges.  And this year is going to be rich and meaningful.  I know it.  I look forward to linking arms with you and creating a year filled with meaningful and deeply engaged learning.


Happy Week 2, everyone!



–Dr. Shyla.



Important Dates:

  • Tues. Sep. 8 — First Day of School!

  • Tues. Sep. 8 — 6-7:30 — CNH Board Meeting on Zoom

  • Oct. 7, 8, 9 —  Half days for Progress Report Conferences

  • Oct. 16 — No School, Professional Development Day for Teachers

  • Dec. 4  — End of Trimester 1



Important 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)

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

  • 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!




Committees for Families to Join

It is an expectation that all CNH families join at least one committee and fulfil the required 40 hours of Family Participation hours each school year.  Select your committee now!  There are many different options to suit your interests and skills!


Click here to see a listing of Committees.  Click here to complete the Google Form to sign-up for a committee.




Important Scheduling for the first three weeks of school

  • Week 1 of the school year (9/8-9/11) is Assessment Week. This is a time when teachers get to know students and their areas of strengths and needs in the classroom.  — See the bottom of this document for all schedules.

  • Week 2 (9/14-9/19) is our first week of classes. This is also the week that teachers will analyze the data from Assessment week in order to determine small groups as well as inform what and how topics will be taught with this group of students. Students will receive the Clubs and Elective sign-up form to complete by the end of this week.

  • Week 3 is a time when everyone should be falling into a good routines and steps.


NOTE: We will begin Intensives and Clubs/Electives in the third week of school.



A Note about Intensives & Arts/PE

During the first and second week of school, all students will attend their arts/PE classes as a full class. Using the data collected during Assessment Week, students will be placed into small groups and intensives. Starting week 3, Intensives and Arts/PE Classes will run simultaneously and rotate M/T & Th/F. Teachers will be sharing out more details about these groupings before the start of week 3. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to members of the Arts/PE Team.

Hannah Cohen Visual Arts

Breai Mason-Campbell Performing Arts

Brad Bush Physical Education


Videos for CNH Families

Throughout this school year, we will make videos for CNH Families that will welcome, inform, celebrate, and share information with you. Here is the link to a Google Drive folder that will hold all videos sent to you.  You can bookmark this link to make it easier to revisit.


All videos, moving forward, will also be shared on our CNH Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram sites. Be sure to follow us!


Below are direct links to our most recent videos:



Attendance expectations

Online school this Fall looks and is very different than it was in the Spring.  This Spring, we were in crisis mode.  This Fall, we are in adaptive mode. This means that school IS school, whether it’s online or in person.


Expectations for Attendance — We expect all students will attend school every day, all day, unless we are informed by their parent or guardian that they have a specific reason for their absence. All classes are required.


If your student is going to be absent, please email Kachaelar Jones at


Attendance will be recorded each day after Morning Meeting.  Any  student who was absent for Morning Meeting will be marked absent.  If they attend subsequent classes on that day, their absence will be changed to Tardy.



Follow Us on Social Media!


CNH is on Social Media — Follow us! Please note that Twitter and Instagram are new endeavors for CNH so please know that it will pick-up momentum as we breathe through the second week of school.  🙂


  • Twitter — @CNHschool

  • Instagram — city_neighbors_hamilton

  • Facebook — Follow us at our official school page City Neighbors Hamilton (to receive important information) and our City Neighbors Hamilton Family page (where you can share photos and comments with CNH Families as well as Staff)




City Neighbors Foundation Social Media – Join In!

Keep connected with the work of City Neighbors across all three schools and in our work to transform public education.

  • If you are a Twitter follower, please follow us @cityneighbors.  And encourage others to follow!

  • Find us on Facebook here.

  • Sign up to receive news and information about what‘s happening at City Neighbors, including the Progressive Ed Summit, our newsletters and more!  Click here to sign-up


CNH Family  Site



Families can access the CNH Family Site from our main CNH website. Click here to connect to our main website.



Donations to the School

Some families reached out to the school over the summer mentioning that they would like to donate the money they didn’t spend on groceries this summer due to receiving the P-EBT card for their children.  Other families reached out to me wanting to donate money to support our acquisition of technology to support families this fall.


If you would like to donate money to the school (for any reason), the easiest ways are through our CashApp or PayPal accounts.  Checks mailed to the school will also be accepted. 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, 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





  • Meal Sites

    • This Spring, Baltimore City Schools opened meal sites at any school location that offered.  We were one of them.  This upcoming school year, the school district is carefully selecting meal sites so that they are spread out evenly throughout the city and in areas of highest need. Here is the link to the school district’s Meal Sites page.  It provides information for meal sites as well as other resources for accessing food. Bookmark the link so that you can visit it again closer to the start of the school year to see which schools will serve as meal sites near you.

  • Immunizations

    • Baltimore City Health Department’s Immunization program is open by appointment (no walk-ins) Tuesday through Thursday 10AM-2PM. Call 410-396-4454 to schedule an appointment.

    • KIPP Baltimore is serving as a site to provide immunizations by appointment only (no walk-ins).  Call 410-793-7263 8AM-5PM to schedule an appointment.

    • All students are required to be fully immunized before school begins.  Find the required immunizations here. 

    • Stephanie has been working with families this summer to ensure everyone is in full compliance before September 8.  Please look for and respond to emails from her, and reach out to her with any immunization questions:




Connecting with Shyla

Below the signature of every email I send from my computer (not the ones from my phone), I have the following text.


Want to meet?  Click here to make an appointment. Be sure to add the topic/agenda of our meeting in the Notes section, so that I am prepared. I look forward to speaking with you.


I wholeheartedly mean it when I say that I am happy to meet with you anytime you’d like to talk. It can be something you’re excited or upset about, a new idea you have for the school, if you want to share news about your family, or just to connect.  I would love to meet with you!



Have a great week, all!