Welcoming Our Newest Students with Open Arms

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Welcoming Our Newest Students with Open Arms

Dear New Yorkers,

This week, I visited P.S. 16 in the Bronx, which has done an amazing job of bringing more than 30 new students in temporary housing into their school. New York is a proud city of immigrants, and we cherish our responsibility to welcome all students seeking a high-quality education.

Thanks to the City’s Project Open Arms, schools like P.S. 16 have been able to offer new students the supports and wraparound services they need to thrive inside and outside the classroom.

Here are just a few of the services we are providing through this initiative:

  • Enrollment. A family’s first interaction with our schools is when they enroll, so we have placed additional enrollment counselors at Family Welcome Centers and in selected temporary shelters to simplify the process. Since July 2, we have enrolled thousands of school-aged children living in temporary housing into our schools.
  • English Language Learners. We firmly believe that every student has the right to a high-quality public education in a supportive environment, regardless of immigration status. So, we are expanding access to academic programs for English Language Learners. These include Dual Language, Transitional Bilingual Education, and English as a New Language programs. We are also providing our teachers with more resources to better support their students who speak languages other than English.
  • Wraparound Supports. We now have more than 400 school- and shelter-based staff supporting the academic, social, and emotional needs of students in temporary housing. Every school has access to a social worker, school counselor, and in some cases has an on-site mental health clinic to provide mental health services for students and their families. As with all students living in temporary housing, new students will receive transportation to their schools. And we are connecting schools to food pantries to get certain pre-packaged, nonperishable foods left over from breakfast or lunch into the hands of the families who need them the most.

I am so grateful to our school leaders, faculty, and community leaders for stepping up over the last few weeks. I also want to thank our families for welcoming our new students and helping them feel comfortable as they adjust to their new home. Together, we are opening our arms to welcome and support our newest New Yorkers.

Soaring high,

David C. Banks


Honoring Our Big Apple Award Winners

Chancellor Banks hosted a reception on Tuesday evening, October 18, to honor the 20 outstanding teachers who received our prestigious Big Apple Awards last year. The Big Apple Awards recognize and celebrate New York City Public School teachers who inspire students, model great teaching, and enrich their school communities. By honoring these teachers, we recognize all those who go above and beyond to serve our students and families. The selection process for the 2023 Big Apple Awards will start later this school year with nominations from students, families, administrators, and community members.