The Weekly Connect 10/18/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Poverty and stress can negatively influence students’ behavior, but caring teachers can help. 

More federal funding for computers and hotspots could close the homework gap

Tens of thousands of children have been affected by the pandemic-related deaths of their parents.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Observations from the pandemic: a policy brief

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The pandemic’s global toll has been devastating, especially for students and schools. But as City Connects has moved through the last 18 months, we’ve observed a range of needs that we are sharing in a new policy brief, “Effects of the pandemic on students, families, and school staff in 2020.” 

The brief draws on the power and insights of City Connects’ network, which currently includes over 140 schools in five states and in the nation of Ireland. During the height of the pandemic, we gathered information from City Connects Coordinators who implement our model by assessing students’ needs and strengths and delivering responsive services. In November 2020, 73 of 90 invited coordinators responded to an anonymous survey. The brief is based on a subset of these coordinators’ responses to a longer survey.

 

Working through a pandemic 

When schools shut down in Spring 2020, the brief notes, “children, families, and staff in high-poverty schools faced the compounding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing racial and economic injustice.” 

 During this harrowing time, City Connects coordinators continued their work in a range of situations. As the brief explains, “14% of coordinators worked at schools with fully in-person learning and worked in the school, whereas about half of coordinators worked in schools with remote learning and were working from home.” 

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The Weekly Connect 10/12/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Springfield Public Schools is using a second $1 million grant from the MassMutual Foundation to continue implementing City Connects.

Head Start study reveals gains for virtual learners

California imposes country’s first K-12 vaccine mandate, which could go into effect in January.

An Arkansas school district opens a food pantry that provides food as well as school supplies, health and hygiene items, and essential clothing. 

To read more, click on the following links.

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Welcoming Margo Ferrick to City Connects

Margo FerrickMargo Ferrick first learned about City Connects four years ago.

Ferrick, a lifelong educator, was presenting at a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education workshop where she met Ellen Wingard, the City Connects Program Manager in Salem, Mass., who was also doing a presentation. 

Back then, Ferrick was so impressed by what she heard, she submitted a grant application to bring City Connects to Southbridge, Mass., where she worked, but the project wasn’t funded until recently.

Today Ferrick is City Connects’ new Director of Student Support Programs & Practices. But it was years ago that she understood how important it was to individualize student services.

“We can’t have a one-size-fits-all model,” Ferrick says. “Kids are often asked to fit into criteria that are prescribed for them, and not all kids can be successful that way. We also have to understand that there can be significant barriers to success in students’ lives.”  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 10/4/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Tennessee summer school programs help students make learning gains. 

The federal government invests $1.5 billion in addressing school cafeteria shortages

Absenteeism is surging in reopened California schools. 

To read more, click on the following links.

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Expanding our mission

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Across the country, school staff, families, and students are entering another year that’s sure to be full of unexpected challenges and uncertainties. To promote healing and each child’s potential, it is critically important that we meet this moment by redoubling our focus on connections with children and families and on the unique strengths and needs that each student brings with them to school.

That’s why here at the Boston College Center for Optimized Student Support, we are widening our mission and expanding into more school districts in Indiana, Massachusetts, and New York. As part of this expanded mission, we will serve as the nation’s hub for the science, implementation, innovation, and information of promoting learning and healthy child development through the effective integration of whole-child supports.

For more than ten years, we have been part of a growing national movement to bring insights from the sciences of child development and learning to advance “whole child” approaches. Because of these insights, we know that students’ in-school performance is affected by factors that exist out of school. We know that hunger, homelessness, trauma, and stress affect a child’s readiness to learn. We also know that every child is unique, with strengths and opportunities to grow that should be met individually, rather than with one-size-fits all solutions.  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 9/27/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Author Annie Murphy Paul shares how to help students think outside their brains

Since the start of the pandemic, at least nine states have enacted suicide prevention laws

Schools can use federal Covid relief funds to address the surge in student homelessness

To read more, click on the following links.

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City Connects is growing in Indiana

We’re excited to announce that City Connects is expanding its presence in Indiana.

In 2018, we launched in three Indiana schools

This fall, thanks to a mix of state and federal funding, City Connects is launching a two-year pilot program in 34 public and charter schools, serving 15,850 students in four cities: Gary, Indianapolis, Muncie, and South Bend.

As City Connects reaches more students in Indiana, it will do so in the context of a long history that stretches from a booming era of industrial strength – farm machine, automobile, and steel manufacturing – that eventually collapsed into decades of plant closings and layoffs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic also took a toll, driving up unemployment rates. And currently, a global shortage of microchips has led some of the car companies operating in Indiana to furlough workers and cut salaries.

It’s a convergence of negative forces that will burden working parents and pose out-of-school challenges to children – including unemployment, hunger, homelessness – that hurt children’s ability to learn. 

But just as it is with students, City Connects is aware of Indiana’s challenges and excited about Indiana’s strengths.

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