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A Message from Dean Cecelia Traugh

Dear Graduate School Alumni,

Dean Cecelia TraughThe start of my second year at Bank Street has been full and points to a coming year of adventure—new people joining the Graduate School, a departmental re-organization to initiate, exciting programmatic initiatives to support, our ongoing work on issues of social justice, particularly race and class.

First, I introduce the new members of the Graduate School leadership team.  All are already adding much to the Graduate School.  Wendi Williams joins us as the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.  Wendi and I worked together at Long Island University, Brooklyn, where she was on the counseling faculty, coordinating the program and serving as chair of her department. I know well the quality of thinking and spirit she brings to Bank Street. Wendi received her doctorate in counseling psychology from Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA., and her research, writing, activism, and advocacy center on ways that intersectional identities and contexts impact people's lives (particularly women and girls) to shape individual and collective mental health, education, and wellness and opportunities for leadership. Recent and publications in progress include associate editorship of the APA Handbook of the Psychology of Women, co-editor of a book Girls Like Us: Risk, resilience and healthy development of diverse girls, and co-editor of a Special Issue of Women and Therapy focused on “Feminist Approaches to Interventions with Black Girls and Women”.  She currently holds national office as the past-president of the Society for the Psychology of Black Women (Section One of Division 35 of the American Psychological Association – APA), chair of the Inter-Sections Taskforce on the Healthy Development of Indigenous Girls and Girls of Color, and co-coordinator of the 2019 National Multicultural Conference and Summit (NMCS).

Anthony Conelli is Chair of the Department of Education Leadership at Bank Street.  Before joining Bank Street, he was the Chief Schools Officer at NYC Outward Bound Schools.  In this role he supported the continued development of their network of schools, created the Associate Schools Program and developed the To and Through College Program.  Anthony was the Deputy Chief Academic Officer for Leadership in the New York City Department of Education.  In this role he oversaw the leadership professional development across the Department, partnerships with leadership development organizations and programs, and the expansion of the system’s leadership pipeline for all of NYC.  Previously, he was the CEO for Division of School Support and Instruction Cluster IV.  As the CEO, he oversaw 13 networks comprised of over 350 NYCDOE schools.  Anthony was one of the original Empowerment network leaders in 2006 and helped to define the role.  Prior to joining the Empowerment Schools Organization, he worked as a local instructional superintendent, resident superintendent at the NYC Leadership Academy and the New School Intensive, and Director of Students at the Center, based at Lehman College.  Anthony began his career in education as an English teacher in NYC.  In 1986, he became the Director of the Forsyth Satellite Academy.  Anthony earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree at New York University in 1999.  He is nationally recognized for his work as a skilled facilitator.  

On September 1, Stephen Ostendorff joined us as our new Director of Admissions.  He brings lots of good energy and ideas to his work with us.  Before coming to Bank Street, Steve was the Director of Admissions at Metropolitan College of New York, a school that serves adult learners in career-focused programs.  With an MS Ed. in Student Development Practice in Higher Education from St. John’s University,  we are looking to Stephen to provide the leadership we need to bring students to Bank Street.   

As many of you know, for the past number of years, there have been two departments that focus largely on teacher education:  General Teacher Ed. (GTE) and Bilingual, Infancy, Child Life, and Special Education (BICS).  Last year, after much discussion with faculty and the chairs of the two departments, I decided that we needed to bring these programs together into one teacher education department.  I strongly believe that bringing these two groups of faculty together will support the kind of conversations we need in order to continue to facilitate our overall growth and work with students and programs.  Valentine Burr and Peggy McNamara are the chairs of the new department we are calling, Teaching and Learning.  We have been busy this summer working together to think about how best to make the new structure work well.  Faculty members are excited to engage this fall in exploring the potentials this new structure offers.  

There are many really interesting initiatives happening in the Graduate School.  In his letter, Shael Polakow-Suransky described many of the College’s special projects.  I won’t repeat those.  I will call your attention to a few of the activities that are particular to the Graduate School.

  • In June we held a dinner for Bank Street graduates of color.  It was wonderful evening at which we learned a lot about how our graduates experienced their work and life at Bank Street College.  One of the needs that emerged from this gathering was that of networking.  In response to this idea, on November 3, the Graduate School in partnership with the Pemberton Society is holding a networking event we have titled:  The Bank Street Experience and Where It can Take you:  A Conversation Between Alumni and Students of Color. This is only one of the ways we are going to be responding to what we learned from our graduates.  More is in the works.   
  • The  Graduate School recently completed a three part series of videos about early childhood practice, “Learning to Teach: Observation and Reflection.”  Directed by Nancy Nager, the videos present viewers with compelling classroom footage of a four-year-old classroom at the Bank Street Head Start Center. Each video incorporates several scenes representing important aspects of classroom life with young children: Routines and Transitions; Dramatic Play; and Early Childhood Materials.  Following each scene, faculty member Margie Brickley engages three pre-service students in close observation and reflective discussion about young children and teaching decisions and dilemmas.  We anticipate that this series will be used for instruction and professional development. Keep an eye on Bank Street’s home page for a link to these videos.
  • I have so enjoyed working with Betsy Grob and Fretta Reitzes to develop a conference we have titled—Teaching Kindergarten:  Where Did the Garden Go?  Practice, Policy and Advocacy.  Scheduled for April 21 and 22, 2017, this conference will address the unique role of Kindergarten in the educational life of the child.  Please put these dates into your calendar.
  • We  have begun a partnership with the New York Hall of Science.  The work they do with children and adolescents and with teachers in science is interesting to me as it is about designing, making, and playing and is so compatible with our thinking and work in science education.  There are several alumni of Bank Street who are part of this conversation—in fact Margaret Honey initiated the contact.  Grant and program work are in the offing.
  • The  Descriptive Inquiry Study Group is moving to Bank Street.  I have led this group for many years now, and this year it is possible to bring its meetings here.  This group includes teachers from across the City.  With the knowledge that we are all working with children and adolescents in a time when we are increasingly forced to view them and their work in ever-narrowing ways, the Descriptive Inquiry Study Group is an opportunity use description as a way to see children and their work from other angles, outside the boxes we so often put them in. To help us take this different stance, we use the Descriptive Processes developed by Patricia Carini and colleagues at the Prospect Center.  Let me know if you are interested in joining us.         

Very importantly, we are continuing our work on social justice, a core of Bank Street College’s mission.  Last year, I initiated the faculty inquiry group that had as its focus issues of race and class as they surface in and influence our work with students.  We will be continuing that focus in the inquiry group this year, deepening our skills in using inquiry as a means of deeply exploring, through our own experiences and questions, issues that are so important to us as educators but which we are often nervous about bringing to the table.  Our conversations are stimulating and do provoke changes in our thinking and abilities to work with each other and students honestly.  

Alongside the inquiry group for faculty, in September, the Council of Students (COS) is again sponsoring a diversity workshop for all Conference Groups.  This second year for this event we are focusing on a concept, Racial Literacy, that we hope will serve as grounding for a series of opportunities students will have to develop their understandings, dispositions and skills around issues of race.  A faculty member, Pamela Jones, has graciously consented to providing our kick-off presentation.   

Bank Street College is a wonderful place to be and to work.  I have found my work here to be collegial, fun and productive.  We do need to find ways to encourage more students to join us in our programs.  Low enrollments continue to haunt us.  All help and ideas are welcome. 

Best wishes for a great year.

Cecelia Traugh

Dean, Graduate School of Education

Bank Street College

ctraugh@bankstreet.edu