School has gone online, but young people need more than academics right now - they need to connect and get support from each other and adults to get through this crisis. You can help make that happen!
Dear friends of Morningside Center,
First and foremost, we hope that you, your families, and friends are safe and well amid this frightening pandemic.
I am writing to you with an urgent request on behalf of the whole Morningside Center staff.
As you know, schools across the country are now shuttered. Our young people are at home, and many are feeling anxious, confused, isolated, and dislocated. Some are facing even deeper crises, as family members are laid off or battling illness. Some have lost what may have been the one place in their life that provided structure, safety, food, and caring adults to welcome them: school.
Schools in NYC and across the country have opened for remote learning. So far, the focus has been on getting students online (despite massive disparities in digital access), and on instruction in math, ELA, and other subjects.
We urgently need to address the feelings young people are having right now, and recreate for them the caring community that will help them get through this crisis.
Morningside Center understands how to engender this sense of community and provide the social and emotional support young people need in this moment. Our staff developers are trained to hold spaces where young people can reconnect, share, and gather strength from one another and from adults.
Please give to our Emergency Fund for Caring Classrooms! Your contribution will unleash the creativity and vast energy of our team of 35 staff developers (some pictured below), who will adapt our classroom-based strategies for this new virtual reality, develop timely new materials, and share them with educators across New York City, bringing joy and community to tens of thousands of children.
We have strategies to counter ignorance and bias with information, empathy, and social solidarity. We have ways to spark joy and laughter even at a time of trauma. We can bring this much needed joy and connection to our new virtual classrooms! But first we must translate our tools and materials for this new moment and for the digital space.
Your contribution will mean that young people in hundreds of schools will not only begin virtual academic classes in the coming weeks, they and their classmates will be part of ongoing virtual communities that provide them with loving support, attention, connection, skills, ideas, and information to help them navigate this pandemic.
Through your generous donation, we will be there for teachers, parents, and students.
Morningside will create and deliver new approaches to address students’ needs during the coronavirus crisis, and we’ll turn activities from our existing curricula into mini virtual lessons.
We will reconnect with schools across the city and support them through short videos and talks, webinars, mini-institutes, online teacher coaching, and systems for online resource sharing. We will partner with the NYC Department of Education, teachers’ unions, and other organizations of educators to extend our reach across the city and beyond.
You’ll enable us to provide training, coaching, resources, and encouragement that will:
Prepare school staff to create caring virtual classroom communities. We want to help educators translate their advisory program/homeroom into a virtual community—a space we believe is even more vital now than academics. We are already providing guidelines for creating such online spaces.
Promote empathy, kindness, and equity during the crisis. Over 2,000 teachers registered for our March 25 AFT-hosted webinar on culturally responsive practices, adapted for an online learning environment. We want to turn this into a series.
Give educators and students concrete strategies and skills to be resilient and stay strong. We’re developing right now new guidelines for educators on self-care and suggestions for creating online circles.
Counter bias related to the coronavirus. We’ve already developed activities that aim to uproot anti-Asian bias related to the virus; more are needed. Our rich, three-day in-person racial equity training can be translated into several short online sessions to challenge the inequity and bias that have come to the fore in this pandemic (from unequal access to healthcare and the digital divide to anti-Asian racism).
Spread hope, inspiration, joy, and laughter by incorporating poems, songs, cooperative games, stories and videos about how people are coming through for each other amid the pandemic.
Support healing from trauma. We’ll create post-pandemic lessons and activities to help young people and adults process what they have experienced and heal the community once our physical schools reopen.
Never have I felt a more urgent call to “social responsibility.” I’m sure that you feel that call as well.
Your vital support of this Beloved Community makes all the difference. We are so grateful to be part of it with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
With deepest gratitude and warmest wishes,
Cassie Schwerner, on behalf of Morningside Center’s staff
PS An important note: If possible, please make your donation online rather than with a check. We are working remotely now, and not regularly in the office to receive paper mail. If you’re unable to give online, please mail your check to: Morningside Center, 475 Riverside Dr., Suite 550, New York, NY 10115.