Family Newsletter from Commissioner Rosa – 11/07/2-23

 November 7, 2023  

Dear Parents and Families,  

I hope you are enjoying the fall and are staying warm as we shift to cooler weather. As we enter into Native American Heritage Month and the holiday season, I would like to share information and opportunities with you to help your students learn and grow. You are crucial partners in helping students develop a love of learning, fostering connections between their experiences in and outside the classroom. The Department has collected educational information on events, resources, and exhibits for your whole family to explore, whether you decide to take a visit to the New York State Museum or enjoy videos and online exhibitions from your home.  

I would also like to provide you with an update from New York State’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures, as well as resources to address childhood mental health, information on the New York State Tuition Assistance Program application, and upcoming programs at the New York State Library.  

Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month, and we are celebrating by sharing educational resources from the Library of Congress, the U.S. National Archives, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service, and the Smithsonian to help students learn about Native American history and traditions. Students can also learn about the rich and diverse cultures, histories, and contemporary lives of Native people with the “Native Knowledge 360° Education Initiative,” a feature from the National Museum of the American Indian.  

To highlight Native American Heritage Month, the New York State Museum is honoring the cultural heritage, diverse histories, and continuing contributions of Native people. The Museum created a dedicated Native American Heritage Month web page with many resources to explore, including highlights from the Museum’s collections, featured videos, online exhibitions, educator guides, a list of events happening statewide, and much more. I encourage you to take a look at the special programming and educational materials that are available to help celebrate Native American Heritage Month with your children.   

Ensuring Educational Excellence and Equity: New York State Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures 
The New York State Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures is working to finalize recommendations for the Board of Regents on which measures best meet the needs of all students in New York. Watch this video for a window into the Blue Ribbon Commission members’ experiences and learn more about the New York State Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures.    

“Something Terrible Happened to Joey” Childhood Trauma Film and Resources
To highlight issues around childhood trauma and discuss intervention strategies, NYSED and the New York State Office of Mental Health recently hosted a screening of the film “Something Terrible Happened to Joey.” After the film, a panel of experts unpacked the messaging and takeaways.  

If you are looking for a resource to add to your toolkit to help address childhood mental health, the following materials are available:  
Something Terrible Happened to Joey website
Watch the film or share it with others
Study Guide for educators to think through and discuss difficult issues surrounding trauma
– New York State Trauma-Informed Network
– New York State Office of Mental Health 988 Community Education and Awareness Toolkit
– New York State Office of Children and Family Services HEARS family line information
– New York State Office of Children and Family Services Family Resource and Opportunity Centers
– The WNET Group’s Student Mental Health Matters: A Toolkit for Educators  

New York State Tuition Assistance Program
The New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application is now open for applicants for the 2024-2025 school year. Students do not need to wait for the release of the FAFSA to complete their TAP application but will be required to submit their FAFSA by February 15. The FAFSA is expected to open in December.   

New York State Library Announces November Public Programs
The New York State Library announced its programming for November, including webinars and events related to history and genealogical services. The free programming requires registration and is available in person or offered online.  

Visit the State Library’s website for a complete list of upcoming programs. Additional programs will be added to the website as they are confirmed.  

Thank you, as always, for staying connected and for your continued support.  

Betty A. Rosa Commissioner