City Connects Coordinator Ashlei Alvarez does not enjoy running. When she was in school, she was the cross-country runner who hid in the bathroom.
But every Friday morning, Alvarez goes running around the Boston Common with 30 fourth- and fifth-graders, two parents, and a number of staff members from the Josiah Quincy School where Alvarez works.
“My first year here I noticed that we didn’t have a lot of extracurricular, sports-based programs,” Alvarez says. So when a teacher at her school told her aboutSole Train: Boston Runs Together, a running program “that’s about deconstructing the impossible,” Alvarez and Kelly Garcelon, a kindergarten teacher who does like running, brought the program into their school.
Alvarez expected five students to sign up. Instead, 30 did. “We were shocked,” Alvarez says.Continue reading →
Recently, Danielle Morrissey, the City Connects Coordinator at Boston’s Thomas J. Kenny elementary school, brought the Kenny’s fifth graders to visit Boston College so that they could see what college is all about.
“The goal was to motivate and provide a learning opportunity for the students to further understand why we are talking so much about Perseverance, Responsibility, Integrity, Dedication to your Education, and Effort (our PRIDE values) and how their future is connected to these values,” Morrissey says. Continue reading →
“We’ve been talking a lot about how our parent council is great, but not reflective of our school population,” Danielle Morrissey says. She’s the City Connects Coordinator at the Thomas J. Kenny elementary school in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.
“We were trying to strategize around how to bring in other families that aren’t involved in parent council — and about what the barriers might be, and language came up a lot.”
Language diversity is part of the fabric at the Kenny, where 35 percent of the school’s population speaks a language other than English. So Emily Bryan, the school’s principal, decided to reach out to more families by holding coffee hours in different languages. Morrissey helped organize and facilitate them.Continue reading →
In the high-poverty communities we serve, many of our students experience challenges and traumas, which is why our support of their healthy development takes many forms.
It’s a joint effort that unites school staff, City Connects coordinators, families, and community partners, so that every child gets a network of support tailored to meet their needs.
Part of the role of our coordinators is to use their training as social workers or school counselors to discern who could benefit from more opportunities to build social-emotional skills and relationships to better manage their emotions, and who could benefit from more intensive mental health services to help them be ready to learn.
Once coordinators make this determination, they spring into action. They do regular check-ins with students and families going through tough times. They find community partners who can provide mental health services, including one-on-one counseling. They run social skills groups. And they support teachers and other school staff find productive ways to talk about and address students’ struggles.Continue reading →