Tigers make the week better

City Connects Coordinator Shannon Underwood needed a way to boost students’ morale in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her students were back at Immaculate Conception Parish School in Revere, Mass., in person and full time. They were wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, and sitting behind plexiglass shields that had been attached to each of their desks. Afterschool programs had been cancelled because of Covid. And work with the school’s community partners had been curtailed.

So Underwood implemented the idea of naming a “Tiger of the Week,” a student who demonstrated excellence through service to others. Students get a certificate and a small trophy. A tiger is the school’s mascot.

“I wanted to incentivize random acts of kindness,” Underwood says.

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The Weekly Connect 4/12/21

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:

Pre-k may boost students’ math scores as much as eight years later.

Eighty percent of K-12 educators have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As schools move through the pandemic, they should factor in the impact of adult stress on students

To read more, click on the following links.

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Making summer plans in Minnesota

Last month in Minneapolis, it was about 43 degrees, but the City Connects Coordinators there were still planning for summer.

In a summer fair held on Zoom, the coordinators met with community organizations to learn about programs that they can refer students to for academics, enrichment, and fun. This is especially important now, following the past year of pandemic-related social distancing and disruption.

Sharing information about these programs with families is a core part of the City Connects model. We know that to do well in school, students have to be well outside of school. That’s why we connect students to homework help and food assistance. It’s also why we connect them to arts and sports programs: enrichment outside of school, can help them thrive during school.

Community organizations are essential in this effort. We connect these organizations with kids. And the organizations provide creative activities with unique elements for all children and for children with special needs. Among the Minnesota summer options coordinators are sharing:

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The Weekly Connect 4/5/21

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:

The pandemic mutes reporting of child abuse because fewer children are in school and school personnel are the primary reporters of abuse.

Tennessee’s governor proposes a mental health trust fund to help K-12 schools deal with the pandemic’s aftermath.

How schools can address anti-Asian violence.

To read more, click on the following links.

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S3 Academy: empowering schools to set up their own systems of integrated student support


As students return to in-person learning inside their schools, many are bringing the traumas of the pandemic with them.

Schools can help by providing integrated student support, a whole child approach that meets students’ academic, social-emotional, family, and health needs. To learn how, educators can attend the Systemic Student Support (S3) Academy, an initiative of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The scale of students’ needs is daunting.

As Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) said earlier this month at an event hosted by the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, “Our mental health and our young people’s mental health was a pressing need before the pandemic.” 

“As we all know, for many young people, this past year has been the hardest of their lives.”

Students have endured everything from losing in-person contact with friends to falling into — or falling deeper into — poverty to the loss of loved ones who have died from Covid.

“So much has changed since all students were last in school full-time,” the Rennie Center adds. “Eight million people have slipped into poverty, and 14 percent of households with children are struggling with food insecurity. Meanwhile, mental health-related emergency department visits are up 24 percent for children and 31 percent for adolescents. We will be learning about the impact of COVID-19 on children for years to come. But what we know right now is that they need extra support.”

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The Weekly Connect 3/29/21

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:

Learning loss is more prevalent among low income students who have less access to technology.

The U.S. Department of Education will use Covid relief funding to help schools districts plan summer learning and enrichment programs.

The pandemic is overwhelming school counselors who work in poorer districts and have high caseloads.

To read more, click on the following links.

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The Weekly Connect 3/22/21

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:

Suburban public schools are now majority non-white.

Colorado addresses the pandemic’s toll on the mental health of students’ and teachers’.

A year into the pandemic, students still lack reliable Internet access.

To read more, click on the following links.

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The Power of Relationships: A Coordinator shares her story in the Boston Herald

Lexy Marsh

“While 2020 is over, I’m still yearning for normalcy … for the sound of small voices and screechy sneakers in the hallway of my school, the Oliver Wendell Holmes Innovation School in Boston,” Lexy Marsh writes in a new op-ed that just ran in the Boston Herald.

Marsh is a City Connects Coordinator who has been working through the pandemic, to support students and their families. 

At the heart of this work, Marsh explains, is building relationships — even in the middle of a pandemic. 

“…I have had to learn how to connect with and support students and families from afar. I see hundreds of students every day online,” she writes. 

“In our school, 86% of our students have high needs; 77% are economically disadvantaged; 30% are homeless; and all qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Those are last year’s numbers. This year, the pandemic is bringing new waves of poverty and illness that are not yet quantified.”

Marshalling community resources remains an essential part of Marsh’s job:

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