Note from the Principal

March 30, 2018

Dear Families,

While it might not feel like spring, Spring Break is here, and quite well-deserved!  Everyone here at Lower Lab has been working so hard, learning and growing and reading and writing, digging deeply into mathematics, creating works of art, singing and playing instruments, and planning their science projects.  Upper grade students have also spent considerable time getting ready for their upcoming ELA and Math exams – but they are surely prepared!

Whether you are traveling or relaxing at home, I wish you wonderful family time, holiday celebrations and lots of fun.  But, rest up – April, May and June have much in store for the LL community. We can look forward to the Spring Concert, Wingspan performance, the Science Fair, Field Day, 2 Lower Lab Values assemblies, the fifth grade overnight trip and so much more…

I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for your tremendous attention around our new safety procedures.  We are still ironing out a few glitches but all-in-all they have been going very well and I look forward to your continued support.

Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy Days!!!  And always, Live…Love…Lab!


Sandy Miller

A Note From the Principal – Lower Lab Values Courtesy

Lower Lab Values Courtesy

March/April 2018

Random House Book of Poetry for Children and other poems

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Courtesy is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, as “showing politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others,” and is an attribute that will serve one well from the time they are a young child well into their senior years.  Everyone likes a polite remark or a respectful act!  People come to expect courtesy as we get older, but when children act courteously they are almost instantly well-regarded.

As we approach spring, and several of this year’s important values (respect, tolerance, patience and flexibility) are under our belts, Lower Lab Values Courtesy, as another way of demonstrating positive behaviors and social-emotional learning.  Being courteous is an important skill and one that is extremely visible.  It is not just a feeling, it is an action!

What is also interesting and somewhat different about this value from the other values is that Courtesy is something that is taught and learned.  People can be born with a patient nature (or not), people can be born flexible thinkers (or not), but courtesy is something that everyone can learn!

Since April is National Poetry Month, for this value, we are going to share and discuss several poems: Manners, Courtesy, Magic Words and Courtesy vs. Meanness.  Every class will also receive a classic anthology, The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, to inspire our students to write some of their own poems.  All students will be invited to submit original poems about courtesy to Josh, to be read at lunch or our culminating values assembly.

Some good discussion may be yielded from the following:

  • Do you think of yourself as a courteous person? Why or why not?
  • Do you remember the first time someone taught you about courtesy? Who was is it? How old were you and what did you learn?
  • What is the opposite of courtesy? What kinds of situations make people act that way?  How can you help make the situation better?
  • Have you ever taught anyone about courtesy? Who was it? What did you teach them?
  • A familiar quote is “courtesy is contagious.”
  • What is the difference between “courtesy” and “respect?”  How are they also similar?

For older students:

  • Some people say: You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Think about this quote. Do you agree or disagree?

got courtesy?

Sandy Miller 2018

Courtesy BOM 2018

A Note from the Principal


IMG_6967Last night, Lower Lab celebrated their artists at Sotheby’s!  Forty-Two of our students had their art work prominently displayed on the walls of this famous auction house, where some of the most famous masterpieces in the world have been seen or sold.  Council member Ben Kallos, who supported the event, was there with our Superintendent Bonnie Laboy.

Lots of Lower Lab families were there as well.  Thank you to Michelle for her splendid work with our students everyday.  Once again, I am so proud of our school!


Sandy Miller

An Important Update from the Principal

Safety letter 3-6-18

Dear Lower Lab Families,

Thank you to so many folks who came out in the very rough weather on Friday to talk about safety in our school.  In order to best keep everyone in the loop on our procedures and updates, please read the following carefully, so that we can continue to work together to keep our school community safe.

  • Firstly, with matters of public school safety, guidance and protocols are initiated and monitored by the DoE’s safety division, our Borough Safety Team and the NYPD.  Therefore, we have standardized practices, such as evacuation drills and lockdowns, on a regular basis.  After each practice drill, we debrief and look for ways of improving.  We take these drills very seriously and we can tell you to the minute how long it takes for us to evacuate the entire building, or how long it takes us to sweep the building in the event of a lockdown.
  • Our building safety committee (which includes members of PS 77, PS 198 and the Beacon program) meets monthly to review our safety plans and determine other actions in addition to our mandates.  We continuously discuss ways of best preparing our staff and students for an emergency situation.
  • One safety meeting each year is open to the community.  It is usually held in April with the NYPD invited to speak with families.  We will announce the date shortly.
  • At our most recent safety meeting, the committee discussed taking additional measures, that are within guidelines, to ensure safety within our building.  They are:
    • NEW – Key personnel in both schools will carry walkie talkies so that we can easily communicate with each other, school safety and NYPD, if necessary.
    • NEW -Both schools are looking into purchasing door stops for emergencies, to prevent an intruder from pushing in a door.
    • NEW – Both school communities purchased a messaging system for emergency communication with families.  (Kindly make sure your phone number is up to date with the school’s main office.)
    • Tightening access to the school building, by ensuring that:
      • NEW – After receiving a visitor’s sticker from the safety agent, all   parents/caregivers will go to the school’s main office to sign-in (this is important to help the school know who is in the building, and where, at all times). Upon your arrival to the main office, school staff will call up to the classroom, or other destination, to let them know you have arrived.

If you have a child in the nurse, the safety officer will announce your arrival to the nurse and you can go directly there.  Please remember -you will still have to go to the main office to sign your child out of the building.

      • For class or other large events, parents will continue to receive passes, which allows them quicker entry to the event. Parents may then go directly to the event and exit at its conclusion.
      • Parents and other visitors should be wearing their stickers at all times when in the building.
      • NEW – All adult bathrooms will be locked.  Parents will need to borrow a key from the main office.
      • NEW – All non-parent visitors will be directed to the bathroom on the ground floor, by the Third Avenue security agent.
      • NEW– (start date TBA soon) pick up from afterschool will be at the Third Avenue entrance rather than from the classrooms.  There will be dismissals at 4pm, 4:30pm and 5pm.  Please try your best to reduce pick-ups at different times, as an adult will be required to bring your child down to you.
      • Updated – All lunch and recess volunteers will need to check-in with the safety officer and receive a visitor’s sticker.  Safety officers will have the list of parents who have signed up in advance (by Friday before the week of).  Only those parents will receive stickers – so please sign up in advance!!!

Parents, while these guidelines may seem stringent or cumbersome right now, please know this is in the best interest of your children.  I am sure you will agree that safety is priority one!  Thank you so much for your ongoing support each and every day!!!

Do not hesitate to reach out to me or Gina with any questions or concerns, which we will be happy to discuss.

I also want to thank Ms. Katherine MacManus (the Principal of PS 198) and Ms. Nicole Kafando (the director of Beacon Afterschool Program) for their ongoing and productive collaboration.


Sandy Miller



A Note From the Principal – Lower Lab Values Flexibility

January 2018

What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada 


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Flexibility, or the ability to think flexibly, is sometimes called “cognitive flexibility.”  This skill is one of the three main executive functions that serve as the command center of the brain, and is crucial to our ability to solve problems. While some children, especially gifted ones are adept at looking at things from different angles and perspectives, other children, also gifted ones, can be less flexible, as they are likely to focus on accuracy and “being right” or things “being fair.”  They can also worry, get anxious and want things to be “perfect.”

As we dive into 2018, Lower Lab Values Flexibility, as a way of extending or shifting our thinking in order to produce a variety of ideas, alternate ways of looking at a problem, or more unique ways of seeing an opportunity.  Flexible thinkers see things in different ways and can even find possibilities that break with the norm.  Their ideas can be innovative and brave.

A New York Times #1 Best Seller, What Do You Do With a Problem? is a beautifully illustrated(by Mae Besom) story of a young child who is followed around by his problem, which persists and persists, and the longer the problem is avoided, grows and grows.  The pictures support the idea of subtle looming into full-blown storminess. Finally, when the child gathers up the courage to face the problem, he discovers that the problem is not what it seemed, and positive outcomes are true possibilities.

While the book does not give its readers a concrete problem and solution, the open-endedness of the story allows for deeper thinking and reflective text-to-self connections.

Some good discussion may be yielded from the following:

  • Do you think of yourself as a flexible person? Why or why not?
  • Can you think of a time when you had a problem? How did you solve your problem?

Were you or others flexible?

  • What kinds of problems do people have? What makes something a big problem? What is a smaller problem? Why is it important to think about the difference?
  • In the story, the character said, “And the more I worried, the bigger my problem became.” What do you think this means?
  • Why do you think the author chose not to describe a particular problem in the story?
  • If you have a plan and it is not going your way, when is it ok to change the plan?

For older students:

  • Think about this quote by Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Do you agree or disagree?

got flexibility?

SGM 2018

flexibility BOM 2018

A Note from the Principal

December 21, 2017

Dear Families,

For the holidays, each member of the Lower Lab staff is receiving a copy of the book I Will Make Miracles, written by Susie Morgenstern and illustrated by Jiang Hong Chen.  It is a beautiful story about dreams, wishes, hope and miracles.  Most importantly, it is about what causes miracles to happen.  Every day, with their collective wisdom, expertise and determination, the staff members of Lower Lab make miracles happen for our students.  It makes me especially proud to be part of this wonderful community.

As you embark on holiday celebrations, vacations and memorable time with family, I wish you much love, health and joy.  Here’s looking forward to an amazing 2018!  We will continue to make miracles!!!


Sandy Miller

News from our Chess Team…

A large group of thirty-three students, their parents, siblings, and even some grandparents made the journey to Florida!

There were some real nail-biters and many of the teams’ final results came down to the final match.  The third graders were in first place going into the final match and it came down to the last match of the tournament to determine a winner!

A Note From the Principal – Lower Lab Values Patience

Lower Lab Values Patience

Book of the Month for December 2017

The Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables


 It is believed that the expression “patience is a virtue” began very far back to a poem written in the late 1300s.  A virtue, quite similar to a value, is something good that creates more good.  Being patient, or having the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems or suffering without becoming annoyed, angry or anxious, is definitely something we can value, something that is good.  Patience has also been defined as the ability to continue doing something despite difficulties.  This is not always easy for adults, and more often than not, it is not easy for children.