News

Help us grow an urban farm at League School

We're partnering with Smile Farms to create an urban farm at League School. The project will provide supported work opportunities for people with developmental and emotional disabilities. 

Smile Farms is a nonprofit organization that provides adults with developmental disabilities meaningful work opportunities. Smile Farms makes rewarding, agricultural work accessible to these individuals by bringing farming opportunities to the communities where they live. 

urban-farm-plan-for-league-school.jpg

Urban farming at League School

Our urban farm will support aspiring adults and teenagers with developmental disabilities.

Our new urban farm will include a range of features — a hoop house, raised beds, an irrigation system and more. The site will provide employment and volunteer opportunities for individuals in our adult programs as well as League School students.

Our prevocational program teaches adults with behavioral and learning disabilities practical job skills for real world employment. Employment gives an enormous boost to our clients’ sense of pride and personal growth.
— Mark Handelman, LETC CEO

Smile Farms has generously pledged to cover 50% of the cost for our new urban farm.

We've raised over $7,500 to date. Will you help us reach our goal of $10,000?

The Department of Education Visits JFTN

The NYC Department of Education regularly reviews 4410 preschools like JFTN. The DOE’s audits ensure that schools are providing the education and services that students need. 

We recently had our annual audit, and it gave us a chance to reflect on the positive changes at our preschool. The visit helped us see our school with fresh eyes, and we'd like to share some highlights with you.

Open-Ended Questions & Children’s Choices

The auditor met with our school’s leadership team, observed classrooms and met with teachers. She was impressed with the way our staff uses open-ended questions to encourage children’s language development. The more opportunities children have to develop their language skills, the better they will succeed in school in the years ahead. The auditor was also happy to see that our staff found every opportunity to let children make choices for themselves, which leads to greater confidence and independence. 

Visual Learning

Our guest was also impressed with our school’s use of visual supports to help students better understand directions and activities. These include daily schedules, first-then boards, positive reinforcement charts and social stories. We distribute visual supports to parents so that the lessons learned at school can be reinforced at home. For example, social stories like our Food for Friends and Green Meadows Farm are now available in print and online. 

Introducing Conscious Discipline

Another recurring topic during the visit was how well our teachers and clinicians work together to help each child realize their individual goals. Since our last audit, our treatment coordinators have introduced Conscious Discipline principles to our teachers and clinicians. Conscious Discipline helps children achieve their individual goals by creating an environment that promotes emotional regulation and safety. 

The auditor was impressed with how many classrooms have adopted Conscious Discipline strategies. Our staff have come together to develop creative environments that are conducive to learning. Using Conscious Discipline has enriched our teams’ shared vocabulary in helping children with their social and emotional development.

Strengthening Family Services

The auditor also met several of our students’ parents and gathered feedback about the school and its staff. We’ve seen more parents attending our Monday morning parent group than ever before. They told us that participating in the group meetings and staying tuned in to our weekly newsletter have helped them better understand our school’s academic and social-emotional curricula.

Make Your Voice Heard

We’re grateful to everyone who welcomed the DOE to our school and provided feedback.

If you haven’t yet taken the DOE’s family survey, you can do so online. You’ll need to enter your unique code to complete the survey, which we distributed at parent teacher conferences. The deadline to complete the survey is April 1st. 

Your feedback helps our school grow. Thank you!

Google Brings Holiday Cheer to League Adult Programs

Earlier this month a team of about 30 people from Google visited our adult programs in Fort Greene. Many of the guests traveled to see us from out of state. Jessica Fennimore and the rest of the Google team visited with the individuals who attend the adult programs and distributed gifts to all. The individuals were excited to host with snacks, as well as show off their holiday decorations, and even gave a special preview of the upcoming talent show, which was enthusiastically received! We all enjoyed and appreciated the visit very much, and we look forward to seeing them again.

Special thanks to our board member Elaine Brodsky, who joined us for the event and made the day possible by connecting us with Google and Jessica!

Acts of Kindness

At JFTN, this month’s unit of study is Acts of Kindness. Our teachers and staff have created lessons and activities to help students develop a greater appreciation of Kindness.

We’ll explore the importance of friendship, helping others and sharing. Some classrooms will sing songs and give gifts to friends in neighboring classrooms. We’ll read books about spending time with family and friends during the holidays, and we'll decorate donation boxes for our Food for Friends food drive. 

JFTN parents can help reinforce lessons from our Acts of Kindness unit by donating non-perishable food items to our Food for Friends event. Filling your child's donation box is a great way to encourage and affirm your child's efforts, while also helping families in need.

If you're a JFTN parent, you can also read our Food for Friends Social Story with your child. We've made this story to help your child understand why we're doing a food drive and to develop their understanding of concepts like kindness, friendship and generosity.

Morgan Stanley Brings Prom to League School

We’re grateful to the many volunteers from Morgan Stanley who helped us put on League School’s first prom party. Just days after volunteering their time for JFTN’s first annual Fitness Fest, Morgan Stanley employees returned to League. The volunteers came in two groups over the course of two days to prepare for the big event. They began by weeding and gardening the school grounds and went on to make the gymnasium shine with fresh paint. The volunteers went above and beyond: decorating the dance floor, chaperoning the event and serving hors d’oeuvres throughout the party. The teams’ hard work inspired League School students and staff and brought the school year to a close on a high note.

The volunteers' visit is part of Morgan Stanley’s Giving Back initiative:

Each year in June, Morgan Stanley holds Global Volunteer Month, an opportunity to come together as a firm and give back in our communities around the world through volunteering. Since the start of this annual program, employees have volunteered more than 1 million hours through Global Volunteer Month activities.

Thanks again to Jeremy Welles and the Prime Brokerage volunteers for their generosity!

Thank You for Funding the Future of Our Schools

This week the InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies (IAC) shared a call to action. At stake was a proposed 3.1% budget increase for preschools like JFTN that offer special education services (4401 schools). Though the increase may seem small, we knew it could have a big impact on improving services for preschool students.

We asked you — our students’ family members, our staff and our partners in advocacy — to call your Assembly Members. Thanks to your efforts we reached our goal of 50 signatures from the Democratic conference. These letters show strong support for fiscal increases for 853 and 4410 schools.

We’re grateful to each of you who picked up the phone to ensure that students get the financial support they deserve. We also thank Senator John J. Flanagan, Assembly Members Cathy Nolan, Shelley Mayer, Ed Ra, and the many Republican Senators who showed early support of the initiative.

It’s been six years since schools have seen a budget increase. Your efforts this week will safeguard essential services for students and help prevent school closures in the months to come. Thank you.