Dear New Roots Families,

Welcome to 2020!  This year is certainly starting off with an unexpected bang, but if there’s anything I’ve learned in over a decade of “growing New Roots,” it’s to expect the unexpected. Jamie Cloud of the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education warned us over a decade ago that this “disruptive innovation” would create waves, and we’re certainly riding them now.

While it may seem intimidating to be on a probationary plan, it is a good sign that state agencies are responding to our ongoing financial challenges with concern and support. Our shared focus on the plan’s goals will be a powerful catalyst for growth as we face these challenges head on as a school community. I’m excited for next Thursday’s Family Action Committee meeting, an opportunity to receive more information and to be part of the action plan that will turn the tide. (See below for more about this).  Please join us! 

Despite this unanticipated focus at year’s end, our Spring 2020 master schedule is rolling out on the timeline we established this fall. In contrast to a traditional high school, your student’s needs, interests, and career aspirations determine our course offerings and master schedule. In December, students at all grade levels reviewed graduation requirements, read their transcripts, and completed an interest survey. Individual students’ requirements and expressed interests are now being used to determine our course offerings and how our master schedule is constructed. It’s quite an intricate and fascinating puzzle!

Based on student and teacher interest, our offerings this spring will include courses that support exploration of the “green” careers sector such as Biomimicry: Engineering with Nature in Mind and 3D Graphics and Design, along with Sustainable Entrepreneurship and internship opportunities.  The next step in our process will be for students to review and prioritize elective course options during the week of January 6. Watch your email early next week for a comprehensive list so that you can discuss options for this semester and beyond with your student, including after school program opportunities. Students and families will have an opportunity to review their spring schedule via the SchoolTool Portal during the week of January 13. Any final adjustments that are needed will be made between then and January 27, the first day of the Spring 2020 semester.

As the good work moves forward, I am looking forward to celebrating our students’ learning and growth in the first half of the school year.  Watch your email for more information to come about this very special event!

With gratitude,


Tina Nilsen-Hodges

Sustainable Holiday Market

Students in our Sustainable Entrepreneurship Class created a partnership with the Fingerlakes ReUse Center in November to host a "sustainable holiday gift stand" at the Alternatives Federal Credit Union Holiday Market on December 13th. This was a hands-on learning opportunity for students to explore concepts they've been learning in class, and make it possible for community members to buy gifts for friends and loved ones at a reasonable price. Through the experience, students managed inventory, managed real-life transactions (credit & cash), engaged customers with their fundraising story, and raised money for senior activities. Gratitude to the ReUse Center and Alternatives for their partnership on the project, and to Lee, Tina, Paul, and Michael for empowering the opportunity!
DEC Environmental Career Fair

The NYS DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) has been working with New Roots for several years in various capacities. Most recently, they funded a $38,000+ grant to expand our work with the Cayuga Wetlands Restoration Project.Thanks to a successful first summer of the project in 2019, the DEC is inspired to share career and internship opportunities with our sustainably-minded students.

The DEC Inter-regional Environmental Educator, Betsy, will be visiting us on January 28th to help expand student awareness about the growing number of environmental career and internship opportunities throughout New York State. Betsy is excited to recruit students from New Roots based on the sustainability focus of our curriculum and the dedication they saw from students over the summer. This is a great opportunity for students to build off of what they've learned at school to find careers in environmental conservation.

Betsy will meet with Upper School students during Crew on the 28th and table during lunch for Lower School students and students with further questions. Jhakeem will be reaching out to students who worked on the Wetlands Project this past summer to introduce her when she's onsite. Much gratitude to Jhakeem and David Streib for all that they've done to engage Betsy and her team at the DEC!
DEC Internship Opportunities
DEC Employment Opportunities
Robotics Club

We're excited to see the new Robotics Club take off! Students have been building robots and writing the code to engage the robots for strategic movements at future competitions.

The first competition will be in Corning, on Sunday, January 12th at Corning Painted Post High School. Qualifying matches are from 10:30-3:30p and playoff rounds are from 3:30-5p.

Additionally, our team was invited to a robotics showcase event at the Spencer-Van Etten Sportsman Show on February 1st. The event could have as many as 7 or 8 teams with varying abilities – some veteran & some rookie teams.
In addition to being a fun chance for the students to interact and share their excitement with each other and the community, it provides an opportunity for teams to showcase their talents.
Big thanks to Aaron and Lee for their vision and leadership for this inspiring new opportunity for our students!
Robotics Club Donations
Opportunities to learn more...

Our Board of Trustees is acting quickly in response to the SUNY Committee on Charter School’s vote to monitor the school’s fiscal wellbeing during a probationary period this spring. 

Below are several opportunities in January to learn more about New Roots finances and our reporting requirements, and ways that you can be part of “growing New Roots” at this critical time in our school’s history.  

January 8, our board leadership will hold a special briefing for staff to provide updates and answer questions.

January 9, our board chairman (Jason Hamilton) will attend our Family Action Committee meeting (RSVP HERE) In addition to action items, we will review and discuss New Roots budget and financial reports, including the audit, and answer family questions.

January 21, our regular January board meeting will include a presentation of our student recruitment plan for 2020-21 and a community discussion circle about the future of New Roots Charter School.

We hope that you are able to attend one or more of these meetings that will help to shape the course we take to secure the future of our school for young people now and for years to come. We will also send monthly updates on our SUNY CSI reporting status and enrollment status as we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year.
Community Info Sessions

This year (and every year) New Roots sustainability is dependent on a healthy enrollment of students. We believe that the biggest opportunity we have is to raise awareness with more families like yours about the educational programming available at our school. Would you be willing to help us spread the word with family and friends looking for education options for their student(s)? 

Going back to our "old roots" when New Roots was NEW, we'd like to host Community Info Sessions in several communities outside of the City of Ithaca. We're seeking community members (like you) to help us connect with families in your neighborhood. Would you be willing to help host an event near you?

If so, please contact Michael ( to learn more about what we have prepared to support these events (sample poster below). 
Greek Peak Ski & Ride Club

Our Ski & Ride Club starts on Friday, January 10th! Online registration is still open, and we have space for more if your student(s) want to join us.

Our 2020 Dates: January 10, 17, 31, February 7, 14, 28. These dates are flexible, so if we experience any weather that prevents us from going, we can reschedule to other Fridays. Also, student passes are valid any Friday throughout the season and they become full season passes after March 14th.

For transportation, we'll take the school van and/or staff and family cars, depending on the number of students who register. 
Ski & Ride Club Online Registration
DEC Summer Camps

Camp registration for the Summer 2020 season opens on Sunday, January 26th at 1pm. Students who are 11-17 are invited to register.

DEC camps combine environmental education, hunter education programs, and outdoor recreation into an adventurous experience. They use a fun, hands-on approach to teach about the environment.

Campers have an opportunity to learn outdoor skills including backpacking, camping and canoeing. First-hand experiences in the outdoors have inspired many campers with a life-long passion for nature and a dedication to stewardship of our natural resources.

Campers will explore New York's diverse habitats, have the chance to learn basic ecological concepts and how human activities affect the environment. Campers solve challenges, explore environmental concepts, practice outdoor skills and spend the week immersed in nature.

DEC Summer Camp Info & Registration
School Calendars

Stay connected to school events and meetings through any of the following options:
  1. Google Calendar: We created a new public google calendar with school events, meetings, holidays, etc for the 2019-2020 school year. You can add the new calendar to your digital calendar by clicking on this link: NRCS EVENTS & MEETINGS CALENDAR 2019-2020
  2. Website Calendar: All school events and holidays are posted to our WEBSITE CALENDAR
  3. ParentSquare: our events calendar is synced with the calendar in ParentSquare for your convenience. You can add events to your calendar with one click through the ParentSquare app.
  4. Newt's News: You will receive monthly newsletters like this one with a "Save the Dates" section at the end of the newsletter (see below) reminding you of what's next.
Feel free to contact me (Michael Mazza) ( / 916.842.1842) with any questions.

January Calendar

1/9 Family Action Committee Meeting (RSVP HERE)
(5:30 - 6:30pm @ NRCS)
1/10 Greek Peak Ski & Ride Club
(4:00 - 9:00pm @ Greek Peak Moutain Resort)
Leaving NRCS @ 4pm / Returning to NRCS @ 9pm
1/12 Robotics Club - FIRST Tech Challenge
(10:30 - 5:00pm @ Corning Painted Post High School)
1/17 Greek Peak Ski & Ride Club
(4:00 - 9:00pm @ Greek Peak Moutain Resort)
Leaving NRCS @ 4pm / Returning to NRCS @ 9pm
1/20 MLK Jr. Day Recess
(No School!)
1/21 Board of Trustees Meeting
(6:00 - 7:30pm @ NRCS)
Public meeting. Everyone is invited.
1/21 - 1/24 Regents / Midterm Exams
(No Classes!)
1/28 DEC Environmental Career Fair
(Upper School - Crew / Lower School - Lunch)
1/31 Greek Peak Ski & Ride Club
(4:00 - 9:00pm @ Greek Peak Moutain Resort)
Leaving NRCS @ 4pm / Returning to NRCS @ 9pm
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