HSA MEETING MINUTES
MARCH 17, 2022
George Washington Home & School Association
Meeting called to order: 1:31pm
Attendees: Tasneem Patrawala, Dr. Kashmanian, Ann Brown, Lauren DiMaulo, Tori Schoeler, Catherine Doolan, Elizabeth McCarthy
Guest Speaker- Ann Brown, GW Librarian
-reading initiatives happening at school right now/recently occurred:
-Reading Marathon, sponsored by the Ridgewood Public Library and ran during the month of February. Students logged their reading and submitted online. At the middle school level there was one prize given (from BF and GW combined) which was AirPods. Serena Vassak, GW sixth grader, won the prize. GW came in second place in participation, 59%- a great showing. $7500 in donations raised across all schools for the library. 1600 students participated district wide
-Book Fair has been completed. Some supply chain issues but overall a good experience. Trying to get back to pre-pandemic sales and enthusiasm and were able to hold in the gym. All students attended with their English classes with extended and evening options available for additional shopping. Sales were strong, almost at pre-pandemic level which was great to see.
-Author Visit happening next week. Jerry Craft, the graphic novelist, will be speaking. He is a Newberry Award winner, the only graphic novelist so far to receive this honor (he won for his book, “The New Kid”). He is also the only author to win the Newberry Award and Coretta Scott King Award in same year. Three assemblies- one for each grade- will happen. They will feature drawing demonstrations in addition to author discussion. There will also be some books raffled to kids who submit questions for the Q and A segment of the program.
-Thank you to HSA and Dr. K for the funding and the volunteers to support these initiatives
Principal’s Report- Dr. Kashmanian
- Thank you to HSA for a fabulous Career Day. Great feedback received from presenters.
- 8th grade DC trip planning is underway; working on scholarship need and funding plus
coordinating vaccination requirements.
- Administration is sad about Dr. Gorman leaving to go to superintendent position in Montville,
NJ; sending him good wishes in his new role
- Plug for GW club support; so many great clubs for students to join. For example, the Green
Team is doing clothing donations via bin in the GW parking lot. The school earns credits per load pickup. Also- a parent volunteer is running GW Track and Field Club; 70+ kids have signed up and it is a great new addition. Please encourage your kids to join and take part in all the diverse club opportunities and subjects
- There have been a lot of behavior issues lately; the biggest theme is maturity level. It is significantly lower than would be pre-pandemic times, across all grades. Maturity/emotional issues are much higher than the learning gap issues. It is to be expected, it is being worked on, but parents need to be aware and monitor.
- Vaping is a major issue. A speaker will be coming to address with students; there are definitely kids in the building who are vaping. Parents need to be aware as it is odorless, and easy to hid. Parents will be updated on when assembly taking place so it can be further discussed at home.
Question- from Lauren DiMaulo- is the assembly same model, and from Timothy Schumacher, who spoke a few years ago? Answer from Dr. K- yes, he does an incredible job, especially with visual examples that really resonate with audience.
Question- from Tori Schoeler- there are lots of rumors floating around about kids being very unkind to each other, very upsetting to students and parents. High level of mean behavior being reported and witnessed; is it falling on deaf ears? Answer from Dr. K- people have become emboldened through media and public figures to speak really horribly. It is endemic, and is being seen full scale in school and is also so far outside the walls of GW. Parents are also setting examples that are counterintuitive to correcting these behaviors, or are unsupportive of correcting the behaviors. Hard to proactively and consistently address because the parents and families who want to fix and address the issues are not the ones carrying out the negative behaviors nor are the source of the problems.
Question- from Catherine Doolan- what can we do, as HSA reps, to help? Answer from Dr. K- talk through the issues with your kids; encourage them to bring up what they see and hear even if it is circumstantial and not directly related to your kids. Speak about the scenarios so they can see all points/sides and better navigate and advocate. Encourage them to reach out to adults if they don’t feel safe or hear things that aren’t safe. Will help develop empathy and talking skills on what to say/how to deal with negative situations. Gave an example of a boy being called fat; he came to Dr. K for help- Dr. K said she could help, or they could come up with a comeback, which they ultimately decided to do. He practiced it, repeated it when situation raised, and it never happened again. The main point is to come up with good strategies and appropriate actions. Related, this has been a record year of staff issues/ retirements and we are still on a downward turn. Kids have a ways to go on learning on how to get along, developing better social skills and showing respect.
Comment- Lauren DiMaulo- first- parents need to know what is going on; they only know if they are told. Fellow parents and teachers/administration need to share when they hear something, and parents need to be open to receiving information on what their child is doing. Second- a a huge issue with students freely using the word “slut” that is very concerning. Dr. K thanked for the information and will address ASAP.
Question- Maria- can we bring in speakers to further address these social behavioral issues? Dr. K advised she would like to; it is complicated process as budget is currently frozen- she would like to bring in a musician, Jared Campbell, who does a great presentation that directly addresses this. Further conversation will be happening to see if HSA can help with funding.
Tasneem shared DEI committee can possibly work these issues into future programming and initiatives as well. Also, she stated reminder that these events should happen on a regular basis so students are consistently reminded and learn better behavior.
Dr. K to do research on more assemblies and speakers to come and address these issues. Elizabeth McCarthy brought up past assembly that was powerful, as an example of what can be implemented; a real person sharing a real experience that can personally resonate. Tori Schoeler brought up peer counselors as possible support; Dr. K confirmed they have some eighth graders in these roles but it can be difficult process/relationship. Group advising is a good idea to further develop.
President’s Report- Tasneem Patrawala
-motion to approve February minutes approved by Lauren DiMaulo and seconded by Elizabeth McCarthy
-thank you to Career Day Committee: Deborah Feit, Tasneem Patrawala, Shubha Mehrotra, Puja Nair, Michelle Stewart. It was a hugely successful day with a wide array of presenters, great programming and fun giveaways and activities for the students. (Photos and Thank You notes from the event were shared)
-8th grade carnival will take place June 16th with a rain date of June 17th, and the promotion ceremony is tentatively scheduled to take place June 21st from 2-6pm in the afternoon at Paramus Pool (rain date June 22nd)
Treasurer’s Report- Tasneem Patrawala on behalf of Caron Katz
March financial approved by Tori Schoeler and seconded by Elizabeth McCarthy
VP Report- Lauren DiMaulo
-auditorium lighting initiative: the original proposals from Aug 2018 were reviewed; since we are now 3+ years later, vendors were contacted for updated information. The prices increased as expected (up $13,490 from original quotes); recommendation is to move forward ASAP as prices will continue to go up and we want to use our reserves. If surplus, FOGW proceeds and 2021 holiday boutique revenue are used, we have enough to cover the project. Important point to note is much of the funding raised correlates to families soon leaving GW and we want to be respectful of their support. Goal is to have this project done in the summer; spending reserves will require a vote to come shortly.
Planning and Development- Tori Schoeler and Catherine Doolan
-Paver fundraiser is in progress, with several options available for purchase on GW store. Purchased pavers will be installed at Washington Place, most likely in Summer 2023 (delays as expected with pandemic supply chain issues)
Nominating- Heather Letscher and Elizabeth McCarthy -all positions have candidates apart from one
-only need to fill VP spot- should a co-president role be considered? Lauren is open to that, if candidates are open to that option. Bylaws would also have to be revised and approved.
-suggestion from Lauren- if you don’t have a person for the role, you can float the idea that the position can be one year with option to add second year?
-suggestion from Tasneem- maybe consider a President, 1st VP and then 2nd VP? It is a three year commitment, but may be option to consider
-further discussion to occur over coming weeks
Meeting Adjourned 2:48pm, next meeting to take place April 20th, 2022 at 1:30pm