A teacher talks about City Connects

Julie Roberts and her students


Fifth grade teacher Julie Roberts has worked at Catholic Central Elementary School in Springfield, Ohio, for more than 20 years. We recently asked her about how City Connects works in her school. Here’s what she said.
 

What’s it like to work with Josh Richardt, her school’s City Connects Coordinator? 

“To have someone who can reach out to find resources for kids who need extra help or enrichment opportunities is extremely helpful, because that’s not something that as teachers we’re used to doing very often.” 

Enrichment is important because, “It can really help a student bloom if they find something that they’re good at that they haven’t been exposed to before.” 

How has the process of doing whole class reviews been? 

“At first, before we actually did the whole class review, I thought oh my gosh, how am I going to spend all morning on each student? But getting to talk about each student really opened my eyes to things I might not have been aware of, like personal or family challenges.

“We talk about strengths and weaknesses, which is so important because as teachers we don’t have a lot of time in our day to focus on this, but taking the time is very, very rewarding.” 

“Now I look forward to whole class reviews. They help me focus more on the whole child and not just on a child’s academics.” 

“When we have a student who has unique or significant challenges we do an Individual Student Review with Josh, the teachers who teach the students, and a teacher from a different grade level. We all brainstorm ways that we can help that child, whether it’s a behavior plan or homework club or finding ways to address specific issues.” 

What have some surprises been?

“Before City Connects, I didn’t realize how many families were dealing with hunger. Parents and guardians don’t share that information with teachers. But some parents will share that information because they know they can get help from the City Connects coordinator.” 

How does having City Connects help your school’s students and families? 

“We’ve come up with behavior plans that have been helpful. A student might check in with Josh to see how the plan is going. And sometimes just having that extra person there that students know is watching out for them is very beneficial. 

“I can also call Josh and ask him to help a student who may, for example, be shut down in class. Josh can work with that student and help them return to class once they’re ready. This helps the student, and it doesn’t take any time away from my teaching. This is one of the best characteristics of City Connects, it helps us work well together as a team.” 

“In fifth grade, girls can start forming cliques, and what their classmates think about them is extremely important to them and so are rumors. Josh has addressed this by taking them through the Peace Path. This really helps them open up and see what another person is thinking or feeling. They learn to take that into account, and they can solve social problems in a more peaceful manner.” 

“Discipline does not have to be the first response when students have problems. We can also look for solutions.” 

The upshot: 

“As a teacher you are so consumed with what’s going on in the classroom immediately in front of you that you don’t always have time to find different kinds of resources or services that might be beneficial. That’s why having a coordinator makes such a big difference.” 

“Everybody here feels the same way: We cannot imagine our school without City Connects.”

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