Diving Deep in the Zone
The World Is Looking More Colorful
By: Anju J. Rupchandani, M.S.Ed.-Managing Director, Zone 126 
Mental Health Awareness
This month marks the 70 th anniversary of Mental Health Awareness in the United States. Each day across the globe individuals grapple publically and privately with their own mental health disorders.
Mental health has always been a very sensitive topic to discuss, and Zone 126 from it’s inception has taken a holistic approach to supporting the mind, body and soul of all of our students and families. Implementation partner organizations such as the Child Center of NY (CCNY), enACT, and Little Flower Yoga (LFY) have all been a part of our continuum of care solutions. At the onset of our community schools’ efforts at Long Island
Image Credit: weheartit.com

City High School, we worked closely with CCNY to set up a school-based mental health clinic that supports both students and their families needs for clinical support services. With the understanding that some students might not be aware of or ready to seek out services, Zone 126 has worked closely with enACT to implement drama therapy residencies. These push-in support services that take place within the classroom allows students to act out scenarios that they are encountering in their everyday life, and learn tactics to reinforce positive behaviors. For the past four years across our three Neighborhood Community Schools LFY has brought their yoga and mindfulness programming into classrooms to teach students how to connect, breath, move, focus and relax. Students who potentially have anger issues have learned techniques to re-channel their thoughts and reframe their thinking by having a mindful moment to focus on their breath.

All of these strategies are meant to ease the weight that students might feel when they experience mental health disorders. Zone 126 works to create environments that are safe and stable so that students feel comfortable to speak their own truth. Asking for help is one of the toughest decisions an individual can make, by creating safe and stable spaces at all three of our schools, Zone 126 makes it so that students and families know they are not alone in this own journey around mental health.

While May is designated as Mental Health Awareness month it is critical for all of us to be kind, and supportive each day of the year as we are unaware of the battles that someone else might be fighting privately.

We all can prevent suicide. If you or someone you know is contemplating harming themselves or someone please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Help is just one phone call away.
“At the end of the day, remind yourself that you did the best you could today, and that is good enough.” ~ Loni Deschene 
News from the Zone
Pipeline Update
A Focus on Early Learning, Gives Children Families a Leg
By: Katherine Ray - Community School Director (PS 171Q)
On April 12 th , ParentChild+ and the City University of NY (CUNY) co-sponsored the Early Childhood Development in Underserved Communities conference. The keynote speaker, Puerto Rican-American developmental psychologist and current editor-in-chief of Child Development, Cynthia Garcia Coll, brilliantly explained that children learn in the context of relationships and that their expression is ruled by their environment. As such, it is paramount that children are provided with a stable, nurturing and literacy-rich environment to begin a path toward personal, academic, and professional success.
The Child Center of NY (CCNY) has been working to implement the ParentChild+ model within the Zone 126 catchment area for the last five years and is pleased to announce due to a new grant, that they will be expanding their program model. While they previously helped to support low-income families with children ranging in age from 16 months to four years old, they are now expanding to provide evidence-based services to expectant mothers and their children through the age of five years old. Each participating family will receive weekly home visits from a trained professional who will work with pregnant mothers to ensure school readiness for children and help build a strong parent and child attachment. This aligns to what Coll discussed about the importance of a child’s environment.
This is exciting news for soon to be mothers in the Astoria/Long Island City community. It is another opportunity to continue growing partnerships that support a successful start for children during the early childhood developmental years. 
Attendance + Caring Adult = Positive Relationships That Matter!
By: Valentina Di Loreto - Community School Director (IS 126Q) 
enACT has been part of the IS 126Q school community for the past three years, their program model is based on supporting students healthy social and emotional development through drama therapy. enACT has been collaborating with teachers this year during student talent learning periods on a series of activities and conversations on topics such as bullying, respect, social justice and healthy relationships. Students worked on building community amongst their group, forming stronger bonds along with deeper relationships with the adults supporting the talent learning periods. Through a variety of theatre games, students were able to engage with facilitators and dive deep into conversations about their hopes, fears and dreams. Students have also been engaged in discussing the topic around diversity of community, celebrating the human experience that empathy can bring to our daily lives. The dramatic therapy program that enACT implements at IS 126Q has improved student’s connectedness to one another and overall relationship to the school. The conversations have assisted in building community and have supported teachers to develop a better understanding of what their student’s individual needs are. Teachers are further developing strategies and content that can support our students, so that they can develop and grow into socially conscious citizens of our world. 
Making Mental Health Happen Everyday at LICHS
By: Dylan Woloszczuk-Young Adults Succeed Coordinator
(Long Island City High School) 
May is Mental Health Awareness Month! At Zone 126, we’re aware that student success is not simply about attendance, grades and becoming college and career ready. We believe central to every students’ success is the wellbeing of the 'whole child' - their mental health and wellness. Many of the students entering our school doors everyday are under immense stress and pressure. Adolescents, while facing a pivotal transitional period in their lives, are having to care for younger siblings, translate for family members newly immigrated to the US, navigate a complex school system and much more. At Long Island City High School (LICHS), we recognize these challenges and collaboratively implement holistic support services that fit each student's needs. One such support service is LICHS’ onsite Healthfulness Center run by the Child Center of New York (CCNY). With the clinic in place, students can receive mental health services at school in an environment where they feel comfortable rather than needing to seek an outside provider.

CCNY Clinicians Chrissie Chua- Ly van manh, LMHC and Jennifer Triana, LCSW state:

"Working at the SBMH [school-based mental health] program at LICHS, we have been realizing impactful outcomes on student mental health. In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, we are doing drop-in sessions for students that just want to learn more about who we are and what we do. We will be having a school-wide Mental Health Awareness day on Friday, May 31 where school staff are invited to wear green to show their support!"

In addition, we must remember that as staff members, our own mental health is critical to supporting students. With this in mind, CCNY, LICHS and Zone 126 have also partnered to create and maintain a Serenity Space within the school building for staff members. The space is a technology-free zone and includes massage chairs and white noise machines. Staff can utilize this space to decompress and recharge during their day in order to bring their best energy and attitude into working with students.

While May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we should all strive to ensure the wellbeing of our students and our own selves, this month and every month. 

Long Island City High School Community School Breakfast
Each year, Long Island City High School (LICHS) hosts the annual Community School Breakfast to celebrate its partnerships and the impact that they have made on the school community. This past month, the breakfast has even more significance as we celebrate our schools Good Standing Status and recertification of the Culinary and Hospitality Academy’s Career Technical Education (CTE) Program. This year’s breakfast included collaboration amongst Zone 126, LICHS’ Community School Team (CST), Small Learning Communities Team (SLC), parent coordinators, guidance counselors, teachers, CTE groups, community-based organizations, students and their families. The morning was filled with stories of success, accomplishments, giveaways and delicious food, catered by LICHS’ very own culinary students. Collective improvement in education and community building does not happen alone, it takes a great deal of hard work and dedication from teachers, school administrators, families, community partners, local officials, funders, and of course, our students.

After the morning speeches and SLC tabling, the Culinary and Hospitality SLC split off to commence their bi-yearly Advisory Board meetings and parents took part in their own session led by Ms. Carrie Watt, enACT’s Site Director at LICHS and Ms. Maria Argyris, Assistant Principal of Guidance for LICHS. The topic of conversation was on parent's preferred mode of communication and their feelings about, comfort with and expectations around communication to and from LICHS. Numerous parents preferred text messages over emails as they were informative, yet kept a professional boundary. Some felt that Parent Teacher Conferences were a great way to meet teachers and dive deeper into their children’s needs, but could be improved with less waiting time and more tips on how to support their student's academic success. Another noteworthy takeaway is having multilingual staff available to speak with families over the phone and/or in-person moving forward. Principal Selenikas joined in on the conversation to demonstrate how the school is working to address these issues as well as to hear direct feedback from parents. The parent session was thoughtful and foregrounded LICHS’ communication for the upcoming school year.

The parent session was translated by certified DOE Translators to connect with families who are Spanish or Bengali speaking.
Principal Vivian Selenikas providing opening remarks at the 2019 Long Island City High School & Zone 126 Community School Breakfast.
Sterling Roberson, VP for Career and Technical Education, High Schools at the United Federation of Teachers
John Widlund, Executive Director of Career and Technical Education, New York City Department of Education
Carrie Watt-enACT Site Director at Long Island City High School
Principal Vivian Selenikas, retired/former UFT Chapter Leader Ken Achiron, and Managing Director for Zone 126 Anju J. Rupchandani 
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We would like to thank all of our funders for their support: Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Foundation, US Department of Education, New York City Department of Education, Altman Foundation, Blue Buffalo Foundation, Pinkerton Foundation, and Phyllis Backer Foundation.