Out of His Head – February Update

No Guns In Schools Ever

(Last Sunday, February 25th, the following letter was placed in the New York Times)

Heads of School Against Gun Violence: An Open Letter to the President and Our Nation’s Legislative Leaders

As Heads of Independent Schools in the New York City metropolitan area and across New York State, responsible for the education and physical safety of tens of thousands of children, we are heartbroken over the recent massacre in Parkland, Florida.  We stand in support of the Parkland survivors and their efforts to effect change.

It was five years ago last month we wrote following the massacre at Newtown, Connecticut. Sadly, we have seen too many school shootings since cut short too many innocent lives with little to no change in gun laws. But the horrific dimensions of the Parkland tragedy are so profound that we are compelled to rise up again and say, “Enough!” As the recent events in Parkland and the scenes of other mass shootings teach us, the easy and virtually unrestricted availability of highly lethal, semiautomatic assault weapons and ammunition places our schools in jeopardy, most especially our children.

We implore you, Mr. President and our national legislative leaders, to do everything necessary to stem this tide of senseless gun violence. Address, and ultimately deny, unrestricted access to weapons and ammunition that have no legitimate sporting or recreational purpose. Recognize that the proliferation of military-grade guns and assault-style ammunition leads to more gun violence and more gun deaths. The statistics are compelling and cannot be ignored.

The United States leads the world in the number of guns per capita; it leads in homicides, suicides and accidental deaths involving guns; and it leads the world in the number of children killed by guns, every year. In these grim statistical categories, no nation comes close to our level of violence and gun-related death. The United States of America can and must do better.

Now is the time to take action. As educators, we believe in the United States Constitution. We also believe our country need not choose between the protection of responsible gun ownership and the prevention of gun violence and that both can be achieved through thoughtful and forceful legislation.

Never before have so many Independent School leaders in our region spoken with one voice on behalf of a single issue. We are moved to do so out of a duty to our students and all of our nation’s children and we find inspiration in the voices and actions of the students who are refusing to go about business as usual. We stand ready to help in this effort, and encourage our colleagues leading schools across the country to join us. Above all, we demand that reason and compassion prevail.

We are Heads of schools serving children from nursery through high school. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We are parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. We are responsible for the education, safety and welfare of children each and every day, and we know the time for action is now.


Heads of Independent Schools (Alphabetical Order)

Concepcion Alvar, Marymount School of New York

Jessica Bagley, Ethical Culture Fieldston School

John Baldi, Vincent Smith School

Bart Baldwin, St. Luke’s School

Audrius Barzdukas, Poly Prep Country Day School

Mimi Basso, West Side Montessori School

Alan Bernstein, Lawrence Woodmere Academy

Jennifer Best, All Souls School

John Botti, Browning School

Micaela Bracanonti, The Lang School,

Susan Braun, Waldorf School of Garden City

Body Brizendine, Spence School

John Buck, Long Island Lutheran

Paul Burke, Nightingale-Bamford School

Frank J. Carnabuci III, Birch Wathen Lenox School

Br. Brian Carty, De La Salle Academy

Drew Casertano, Millbrook School

Maria Castelluccio, Léman Manhattan Preparatory School

Ken Catrone, Soundview Preparatory School

Benedict Chant, Poughkeepsie Day School

Raizi Chechik, Manhattan Day School

Ward Chory, Harley School

Joseph J. Ciancaglini, Convent of the Sacred Heart

David S. Ciancimino, Canisius High School

Chad Cianfrani, Oakwood Friends School

John Cissel, Harbor Country Day School

Pam Clarke, Doane Stuart School

Donna Cohen, International Preschools

Virginia Connor, St. Hilda’s and St. Hugh’s School

Angela Coombs, Academy of St. Joseph

Melissa Dan, School of the Holy Child

Laura Danforth, Masters School

Eileen Davidson, The Ursuline School

George P. Davison, Grace Church School

James Dawson, Professional Children’s School

William DeHaven, Winston Preparatory School

Andre del Valle, George Jackson Academy

Bruce L. Dennis, Packer Collegiate Institute

Fr. Christopher Devron, Fordham Preparatory School

Jesse Dougherty, Green Vale School

Diane Drew, Dwight School

Ariela Dubler, Abraham Joshua Heschel School

David Eglof, Corlears School

Caroline Erisman, Cornelia Connelly Center

Gina Farrar, Blue School

Charles Fasano, Bay Ridge Preparatory School

Tony Featherston, Town School

Jane Fried, Brearley School

Michael Frosch, Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School

Scott Gaynor, Stephen Gaynor School

Patricia Geyer, Long Island School for the Gifted

Nancy Glauberman, Barrow Street Nursery School

Evan Glazer, Avenues New York

Felicia Gordon, The Brownstone School

Laura Graceffa, Robert C. Parker School

Laura Graham, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church Day School

Martha Haakmat, Brooklyn Heights Montessori School

Matthew Heard, Dutchess Day School

George Higgins, The Beekman School

David Hochschartner, North Country School

Simon Holzapfel, Darrow School

Adrian Hood, Woodstock Day School

Stuart Johnson, St. Bernard’s School

Jean-Marc Juhel, Buckley Country Day School

Danny Karpf, Rodeph Sholom School


Phil Kassen, Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School

Eve Kleger, Village Community School

William Knauer, Harvey School

Tara Christie Kursey, Hewitt School

Jonathan Lamb, Storm King School

Christopher Lauricella, Park School of Buffalo

Lee Levison, Collegiate School

Rabbi Avi Levitt, Magen David Yeshivah High School

Sharon Lickerman, Resurrection Episcopal Day School

Jed Lippard, Bank Street School for Children

Sean Lynch, Lycée Français de New York

Colm MacMahon, Rippowam Cisqua School

Carla  MacMullen, Kew-Forest School

Timothy P. Madigan, Churchill School and Center

Helen L. Marlette, Buffalo Seminary

TreeAnne McEnery, Green Meadow Waldorf School

Brenda Mizel, Metropolitan Montessori School

Scott Moran, City and Country School

Kim Morcate, Rockland Country Day School

Nicole Nash, Hannah Senesh Community Day School

Eve Nealy, Westbury Friends School

Marsha Nelson, Cathedral School of St. John the Divine

Scott Nelson, Rye Country Day School

Douglas North, Albany Academies

Virginia O’Brien, Notre Dame School of Manhattan

Michael O’Donoghue, Holy Child Academy

David O’Halloran, Saint David’s School

Greg O’Melia, Buckley School

Tony Oroszlany, Loyola School

Maria Palendra, La Scuola D’Italia Guglielmo Marconi

Susan Paynter, High Meadow School

Joel Peinado, French-American School of New York

Kevin Pendergast, Kildonan School

Margaret Poggi, LearningSpring School

Jenny Rao, Emma Willard School

Jack Raslowsky, Xavier High School

Amani Reed, School at Columbia University

Jim Regan, Martin Luther School

Scott Reisinger, Trevor Day School

Jean Rosenberg, Chelsea Day School

Janet Rotter, Studio School

John Russell, The Windward School

Carolyn Salzman, The Gateway School

Joe Santos, International School of Brooklyn

Diane Schlessinger, Greene Hill School

Susan Sheahan, Episcopal School

Karen Smith, Smith School

Steven Solnick, Calhoun School

Jeffrey Spade, Rudolf Steiner School

Lydia Spinelli, Brick Church School

Todd Stansbery, Tuxedo Park School

Ellen Stein, Dalton School

William W. Taylor, Trinity-Pawling School

Michael Termini, Cooke School and Institute

Vince Thompkins, Saint Ann’s School

Leslie Thorne, Parkside School

Kristen Tillona, Knox School

Barbara Tischler, S The peyer Legacy School

David R. Trower, Allen-Stevenson School

Salvador Uy, United Nations International School

Patti Vitale, Brown School

Bob Vitalo, Berkeley Carroll School

David Vitow, North Shore Hebrew Academy High School

Larry Weiss, Brooklyn Friends School

Janet Wolfe, IDEAL School

Debbie Zlotowitz, Mary McDowell Friends School

The overwhelming support for this issue by schools in New York is obvious. Please note Dr. Termini’s support in the list of schools. We are proud to support this initiative.

Click here to check out MSNBCs reaction (at about 1:50sec.)

However the issue of gun violence is not going away. I must admit that after the last shooting in Florida I was almost immune to a response. I was not phased or horrified, I was instead just numb. How did I get to this point? The amount of gun violence in the country is having its effect and taking its toll on students.

We cannot simply accept this horror and every time it happens we must react as if it was the first time. In school our counselors and staff are trained to help students digest the news, and help them to understand the issues. We do everything to reassure them that they are safe and will remain so at school. Here are a few good resources to help navigate the information with your children:




Our safety procedures are constantly being updated and rethought. We have a good security system in place and staff are trained in lock downs and ensuring safety. Unfortunately we have to think about the worst in every situation. We are exceptionally concerned with keeping our kids safe.

Luv Michael

If you are not familiar with Luv Michael, take a moment to watch this video

I recently visited the Luv Michael kitchen to see one of our own graduates who is now a professional Granologist. Watching our graduate work and produce an amazing product was inspiring. Even more inspiring was the environment that Lisa Liberatore has created for people with special need providing education, social activities, and employment.

Luv Michael was set up to produce an organic, nut-free, gluten-free granola produced, packaged and shipped by adults with special needs. In recognition that some folks with autism spectrum disorder need accommodations, Lisa Liberatore set up a situation for a successful workplace where students are independent in their work. She provides classes (taught by a special education teacher) related to food service. She has also set up plenty of social activities after work for her employees. What she has done is create the perfect working environment for our graduates (or any one quite frankly) which guarantees their success.

Given the dire numbers for employment for those with special needs, Lisa has found a way to challenge that statistic. On my visit I saw adults who not only took great pride in what they were doing, they wanted more. As of now the operation can only support a 2 day per week operation.

This is the vision of one mom. Imagine if we all got involved. Imagine this business model expanding and began to hire dozens of graduates. Luv Michael is looking for ways to work with Cooke. They have (as have many organizations) stated that our students are among the best prepared for work after graduation.

The company is getting lots of attention, it’s all over the news. Learn more here or click here to visit the website.

L to R: Francis Tabone, Lisa Lipatore (founder), Robert M. (General Manager), Bobby Flay (Chef)

How can we help?

Buy the product. Go to Luvmichael.org and order or go to D’agastino, Fresh and Co. or select Starbucks to purchase. They just won a Jet Blue award so if you fly, you may see the product as a snack on the flight. Do you work in a corporate office that provides snacks? Why not order from Luv Michaels? The more orders the more employees.

Finally – It is delicious. Seriously. It’s healthy, organic – all the good stuff. Let’s help to spread the word. It means opportunity for our students.

Cooke Alum Sam Antar hard at work!