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Congratulations to Mary E. Walsh

We’re excited to announce that Mary E. Walsh, the Executive Director of City Connects, is the recipient of this year’s Saint Robert Bellarmine, S.J., Award, “in recognition of her exemplary career and significant contributions that have consistently and purposefully advanced the mission of Boston College.”

Walsh received the honor on Monday at Boston College’s graduation ceremony.

“She is the fourth recipient of the award, named for the Italian cardinal, influential professor, and one of the leading figures in the Counter-Reformation.”

Ordained in the year 1570, Bellarmine was known for his commitment to education and to protecting vulnerable people. It’s a tradition that Walsh exemplifies in her work at City Connects. Her conviction that a combination of clearing away out-of-school problems, creating opportunities, and focusing on strengths can help students succeed in school has evolved into the City Connects model of getting the right services to the right students at the right time. It’s a “whole child” approach that’s built on research, data, and evidence of long-term success.

And as Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen explains, this work draws on Walsh’s personal experience.

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The Weekly Connect 5/22/23

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:

Schools can use social media best practices to promote social connections.

Illinois becomes the first state to pass a law requiring public schools to integrate Asian American history into the curriculum

A grant program in Pennsylvania supports curriculum that boosts disability awareness

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading “The Weekly Connect 5/22/23”

Shakamak Schools awarded $1.8 million federal grant to expand City Connects

A $1.8 million federal grant is helping City Connects expand in Indiana’s Shakamak Schools to support students who are finding their way through the aftermath of the pandemic. 

“This is the first time that City Connects will take its evidence-based model to a rural community, and we are eager to partner with and learn from Shakamak,” Mary Walsh, City Connects’ Executive Director, says.

City Connects is presently in schools from multiple districts in five states, many of which are in high-poverty urban communities. “We are receiving more inquiries from different types of communities,” explained Walsh. “We are hearing from more rural and suburban ring communities, in addition to urban districts. This is an important opportunity to continue to adapt City Connects to be effective in different contexts and in different places.”

In Indiana, the $1.8 million, five-year grant was awarded to the Shakamak Schools and to Marian University, home to the City Connects Midwest Technical Assistance Center. The funding comes from the Full-Service Community Schools program

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The Weekly Connect 5/15/23

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:

Severe weather disrupts special education services.

Pandemic experiment of universal free school meals gains traction in states.

Child care shortages for children with disabilities.

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading “The Weekly Connect 5/15/23”

Offering English Learners an “adventure”

Adventure can’t often be found in a spreadsheet, but Carla Ann Femino did just that. By analyzing data, she found a way to turn a concern into an exciting learning experience.

Femino, the new City Connects Coordinator at Beverly High School, in Beverly, Mass., was conducting a whole class review when she noticed a concern that cut across grades. 

“The students in our English Learner program had really high needs and didn’t have enough supports to address that,” Femino says. “I like data, and I know data helps people understand what students need, so I did an informal extension of my whole class review.”

Femino began talking to English Learner program teachers who taught students who speak Albanian, Arabic, Italian, Nepali, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. 

About 67 percent of these students faced mild, moderate, or severe risks in addition to their strengths.

As she conducted her review, Femino also found isolation. Some students weren’t connected to the larger social life of their school, and many weren’t well connected to their larger communities. And they were still building the skills to cope with the stresses of attending a school where most people speak fluent English.

Another factor, Femino says, is that “a lot of English Learner students have adult roles. They have jobs. They have to take care of younger siblings. They might come to school tired, but they still work hard at school, and they find the courage it takes to be resilient.” 

Continue reading “Offering English Learners an “adventure””

The Weekly Connect 5/8/23

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:

History and civics scores on the NAEP — the nation’s report card — fell to 1990s levels. 

Four-day school weeks gain popularity. 

The Nelsonville, Ohio, school district focuses on students’ mental health

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading “The Weekly Connect 5/8/23”

A Library, llamas, and City Connects

Risen Christ Library
Risen Christ student with her sun-decorated library card — and a koala

With one small card, families in Minneapolis can unlock a world of castles, llamas, and “crafternoons.” That’s why Maggie Longsdorf is on a mission to make sure that the families in her school have library cards. 

“Any time we have a school event, I have a table out where there are always library card applications,” Longsdorf says. She’s the City Connects Coordinator at Risen Christ Catholic School in Minneapolis, Minn. “I tell families, I can have a library card for you in a week.”

It’s easy to forget how much libraries have to offer, Longsdorf says. But a library card is a passport to a world of new opportunities at nearby Hosmer Library, a building that looks like a small castle outside and holds tons of resources and opportunities inside.

Longsdorf says the three most popular things Risen Christ families do at Hosmer Library is borrow books, participate in the tutoring program, and join in summer activities.

“Having access to all those free books is great. And the library is also a great resource for families who are looking for extra academic support for their children outside of school,” Longsdorf adds. “Since the pandemic, a lot of students have been trying to catch up, and it has been difficult to find free academic interventions and support.

“But at the library, there’s free tutoring. All you need is a library card. Once you have that, you can go to any of the libraries in the Hennepin County system and get tutoring. And at Hosmer Library, there are tutors who speak Spanish,” which is important because many of Risen Christ’s students also speak Spanish, including those who come from other countries.

Continue reading “A Library, llamas, and City Connects”

The Weekly Connect 5/1/23

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:

A study finds that school discipline occurs at predictable times, a finding that shows how important it is to monitor discipline practices to avoid inequitable treatment of students. 

Some states want to give students more time to eat lunch to ensure that they get the nutrition they need. 

U.S. Surgeon General calls kids’ declining mental health the “crisis of our time.”

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading “The Weekly Connect 5/1/23”
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