Courtney Pollack, a former middle school teacher, stands in two worlds.
As a Research Affiliate in the Gabrieli Lab at MIT, she does laboratory-based research.
At Boston College, she does applied research.
“Laboratory research contributes important knowledge about learning. But there’s a long runway from the lab to the classroom, so it takes time and several intermediate steps for this knowledge to have an impact on how students learn every day,” Pollack explains.
“Another approach is to conduct applied education research, which is what the Center for Optimized Student Support does.” Pollack is a Senior Researcher at the center, which is home to City Connects and based at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development.
“Researchers in the center study the City Connects intervention, which is grounded in prior child development research from different disciplines and from both laboratory and applied settings.”
Long before Pollack was an academic, however, she was a college student who had started thinking about how education works because she was tutoring middle school students in Arizona who were struggling in math.Continue reading →
Jama Badinghaus, a City Connects Coordinator at Chaminade Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio, has been helping students apply to college for several years. Now she’s doing it in the middle of a pandemic — and she’s encouraging students to reach beyond the colleges they know to choices they hadn’t considered.
“My role is on the support side,” Badinghaus says, “helping students think about what they want to do and asking if families have the resources they need.”
“We’ve put more energy into making sure that students have access to financial aid information. We’re making sure that students have a better sense of how to complete college applications, and we educate them about specific programs for first generation students [who are the first in their families to attend college] or for low-income kids.”
“From wealthy suburbs to poor inner cities and rural areas, businesses are struggling, and food lines are long,” the brief explains. And while the “funds flowing through the stimulus packages seem big on paper in Washington,” the funds can feel paltry once they arrive in communities, particularly “in the context of historic and pandemic-driven increases in child poverty, hunger, trauma, academic learning loss, and limited opportunities.”
Joan Wasser Gish, the brief’s author, sees an opportunity in the crisis.
“This is a moment for bipartisan action to address the complex needs of children and families uncovered and exacerbated by the pandemic,” Wasser Gish says. She is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Center for Optimized Student Support at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development. “Federal leaders make decisions that set the context for how states, communities, and schools can respond to the children and families they serve. This brief provides research-informed recommendations for action.”Continue reading →
Two coordinators working together as a team. That’s what Brad Maloon and Mia Riccio do at Collins Middle School in Salem, Mass.
“Just envision the left side of the brain and the right side of the brain,” Maloon says of his partnership with Riccio. “Mia is extremely organized and a very good systems thinker. I’m more of a people person with connections. I grew up in Salem. I’m a Salem guy, so I have a lot of family connections. Mia keeps me on task while I use the creative side of my brain.”
“But it took time,” Riccio says of becoming a team. “My first year here, Brad had been at the school forever. I was just coming in, getting to know the school and the people and how things work. Brad was running around doing all this stuff, and I was wondering how I could help make things work.”
“I was able to help her with getting to know Salem. And she helped me with really learning the City Connects system.”
Riccio is more detail oriented. Maloon is more flexible. And they both have what both agree is “a really strong work ethic.”Continue reading →