10.22.21 SEL Family Letter

Gary Beidleman, Principal
Nathalie De La Mota, Assistant Principal, Academy of Excellence
Leah Dyer, Assistant Principal, Pace Academy
Courtney Ware, Assistant Principal, Spectrum Academy
Dana Dade, President, JHS 118 Parent Association
Jessica Rolon, Secretary, JHS 118 Parent Association
Carrie Rivera, Treasurer, JHS 118 Parent Association

Dear JHS 118 Parents & Guardians,

We understand just how challenging the past 18 months of the pandemic have been for you as parents,  families, and caregivers. We are in awe of the work you have done, and continue to do each and every  day, to support your child(ren) and we thank you for your continued partnership with us. Our work  together is more important than ever as we strive to ensure your child thrives this school year and  beyond. To further support you, our teachers, counselors, and social workers as champions of your  child(ren)’s academic and social and emotional needs, are excited to let you know about a wonderful  opportunity in our school this year!  

Research has consistently shown that developing the social and emotional skills of students helps them  to succeed academically, gain confidence, and be happier. Social-emotional learning, or SEL, includes  developing relationship skills, self-awareness, responsible decision-making, and optimistic thinking.  

To identify and support the social-emotional growth of all children in our school, we are excited to be  administering a strengths-based SEL screener, known as the Devereaux Student Strengths Assessment  (DESSA). The DESSA asks questions about areas of social-emotional functioning including decision  making, relationship building, confidence, and others.This tool will be completed by someone who knows  your child really well—in most cases a teacher.  

The responses we gather will help us provide targeted, highly responsive support to each individual  student. Perhaps most importantly, the tool enables us to build on each student’s strengths while  identifying the social-emotional skills they need to further develop. Once our students’ growth areas are  identified, we can create highly responsive plans to target and enhance those skills in the most  appropriate manner and settings. 

The results of this screener will not be included on report cards, will not have any impact on grades, and  will not be used to make any diagnostic or evaluation decisions. The results will be stored securely in an  online portal that meets the DOE’s strictest privacy and security settings and will only be viewable by your  child(ren)’s teachers and select school staff such as the principal or counselor.  

The information gathered from the DESSA screening tool will allow us to provide the very best support to  your child and will be beneficial to their overall success, both inside and outside of school. Families will  have an opportunity to hear about their student’s SEL skills during family conferences. 

We are excited to implement the DESSA beginning October 25, 2021. If you have any questions, please  contact Ms. Daniels at 718-584-2330 x2221 or [email protected]  

If you do not want a staff member to complete the DESSA screener for your student, you must write a  letter to me stating that. This letter needs to be received by the school by October 25, 2021. Please email  10×[email protected] with “SEL Screener” in the subject line.  

If you have any questions regarding social-emotional learning or the DESSA, please contact our Parent Coordinator Steven Cooper at 718-584-2330 [email protected]



Gary Beidleman, Principal

William W. Niles School – JHS 118

Pace Academy, Spectrum Academy, and Academy of Excellence