Author Archive

Homework and Testing, Oh My!

Written by Peter. Posted in Civic Responsibility, Education

Scouring the internet, your intrepid blogging crew have found assorted articles with different points of view on homework, testing and the Common Core.  Here’s a little light reading to get your summer started.

There’s life in the far corners of the universe.  Check this guest post written at the Cloud Institute.  Second graders doing PLPs and learning about self governance and civics.  Cool.

In light of Susan Ilias’s recent essays on homework, this  pediatrician’s point of view on homework is worth delving into.

Each spring, Unity Charter School, and all public schools, are required to administer the dreaded standardized tests.  While American education experts are getting themselves all in a lather about maximum performance on standardized testing, in China, people are taking an opposite view.  Are they really good for our kids?

And finally, the Common Core standards are coming at us like a runaway freight train.  Is the Common Core all it’s cracked up to be?  Read this NY Times piece and let us know what you think.


Unity Charter School’s June General Assembly: a Recap

Written by Peter. Posted in Civic Responsibility

– by Tanya Seaward

We would like to thank the members of the commUnity who were able to attend Unity Charter School’s final General Assembly of the year, held on June 3rd.  For those of you who weren’t able to make it, we started the evening with a short Volunteer Recognition ceremony to honor the many dedicated parent volunteers who gave so generously of their time and talents to Unity.  Lucy Tullo, PA President,  thanked her fellow PA officers (Danielle Lang, Karen Haskell and Diala Pharaon-Abboud), and highlighted the efforts of the many lunch, laundry, interest group, room parent, Roller Skating Party, Eco-School, EcoFest, Suburban Organics, strategic plan and board committee volunteers.  In particular, she noted the extensive efforts of Becky Rubenstein (lunch coordinator, Eco-Schools, teacher appreciation, room parent – what doesn’t she help with?), Catherine Delett for the Weekly Digest, and Rachel Kwock for World Culture Day.  Unity wouldn’t be the special place that it is without the help of our valued volunteers!

Board elections were the next item of business.  Outgoing board members Ronni Blaisdell, Matthew Onigman, Mindy Quirk and Tanya Seaward were thanked for their contributions to the school over the past years.  The members of the commUnity voted in one returning board member, Tina Bologna, and four new trustees to the board:  Lilie Donahue, Jonathan Fichter, Stacy Havens and Teri Rich.  Welcome!

The general assembly concluded with a presentation of the 5 year strategic plan by Board President Kirstin Sechler.  With the assistance of the New Jersey School Boards Association, we are pleased to say that we developed this plan with input and feedback from all our major stakeholders: parents, staff, board and the commUnity.  The strategic plan outlines the six major areas of focus: student achievement, character education, community engagement, sustainability, staff development and whole school viability. We would also like to thank all the members of the staff and commUnity that assisted with writing the detailed action plans associated with each major goal.  Both the complete strategic plan and the general assembly PowerPoint presentation can be found online.


portrait of Tanya Seaward  Tanya Seaward is a Unity mom to three students; Jeremy, Abby and Theo.  She is a member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Communications Committee.  Tanya is a Chartered Accountant who enjoys gardening and leisurely rides on her bike (no hills please!).

Community Members Share Recipes for Sustainable Eating

Written by Peter. Posted in Health and Nutrition, Sustainability

Here are two recipes for sustainable eating, contributed by Catherine Delett.  Do you have a favorite vegan or vegetarian recipe you’d like to share?  Send it to blogeditor [at] unitycharterschool [dot] org. Slow Cooker Refried Beans:
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • ½ fresh jalapeño or other hot pepper, seeded and chopped (or powdered cayenne pepper)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or garlic powder)
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • One big pinch of cumin
  • 6 cups water
1.Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. [Catherine uses a six-quart slow cooker -Ed.] 2.Cook on high for 8 hours or overnight while you are sleeping. 3.Remove the bigger onion chunks and drain the excess liquid. (Save excess liquid to adjust beans to desired consistency.) 4.Mash remaining beans with a potato masher. Serve in bowls, in tortillas, or however you like.   Honey Cookies: 
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar (for rolling – optional)
1.Preheat oven to 300. 2.In a mixing bowl combine flour, soda, and salt. 3.Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the honey and cream well. 4.Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just blended. cookies Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls into bowl of sugar and roll to coat, if desired. You can also chill and make into cut-out cookies. Bake for 15-18 minutes until edged are golden and set. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to rack to cool completely.