City Connects Coordinators have been working harder than ever to meet the needs of students, families, and communities.
Here’s a roundup of news stories that share some of the work coordinators are doing.
In Salem, Mass., a fire that damaged five buildings prompted a community-wide response that includes city officials, local charities, and City Connects Coordinators.
“Our thoughts are with our Salem school families who were impacted by yesterday’s fire on Hancock Street,” Salem’s School Superintendent Stephen Zrike said in a news release.
“Salem Public Schools’ City Connects Coordinators, Family Engagement Facilitators, and school leaders are working with identified staff and families who may have been impacted. If you have questions or have been impacted by the fire, please contact your school to be connected with those who can assist.”
In Indianapolis, Ind., Mayor Joe Hogsett is addressing the city’s mental health challenges. In March, he pledged to “implement a clinician-led mobile crisis team to respond to calls for help involving mental health situations in Indiana’s capital city,” the Indianapolis Star reports, adding that another part of the city’s efforts to address mental health is City Connects, which “lets the city work with school children and their families on mental health-related issues.”
And as Indianapolis and other City Connects sites show, the supportive work that coordinators do inside schools integrates with and enhances community wide efforts.
In Springfield, Mass., as a news release from the city explains, “the newly adopted FY23 budget continues to prioritize social-emotional, and counseling supports for all students, including extending the reach of City Connects to all schools. City Connect programming addresses social/emotional and other non-academic needs by connecting students and even their families to resources designed to address their particular need.”
Schools Superintendent Daniel Warwick adds:
“We have found that providing wrap-around services for students and their families has been a great value-add for the District and we have been moving towards being able to provide this service districtwide for many years now.”
An article published by the education news website FutureEd, points to the importance of tailoring success plans for students and for communities.
“This strategy for supporting students, which we call success planning, recognizes that different communities have varying needs, capacities, and entry points for implementation,” co-authors Paul Reville and Lynne Sacks write. Reville is a former Massachusetts Secretary of Education and the director of Harvard’s Education Redesign Lab. Sacks is the research director at the Redesign Lab.
And while tailoring programs to meet individual needs isn’t new, “Organizations such as Communities in Schools, Community Schools, City Connects, BARR, and City Year go further, coordinating with other agencies to address students’ academic and non-academic needs alike, from tutoring to mental and physical health screening and food assistance.”
Given the educational inequities that the pandemic has highlighted and often made worse, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t stabilize schools, Reville and Sacks say, writing:
“The prospect of bringing all these children back together and batch-processing them under the traditional, impersonalized, ‘mass production’ model in public education seems likely to serve no one well.”
“Every child,” the article concludes, and we agree, “needs to be seen, heard, understood, and responded to as an individual. Every child needs an advocate in the school system who knows the child and their family and sees to it that the child’s needs are addressed. Relationships matter.”