COVID-19 has hit students, families, and schools hard. But City Connects is working hard to keep students connected to education and supportive services.
To share this story, Joan Wasser Gish, Ellen Wingard, and Stephanie Sanabria — joined Ben Forman on an episode of the Gateways podcast, presented by local nonprofit think tank, MassINC.
“It feels like in this moment when the disruption caused by COVID is making inequities so palpable, and is lifting the lid on how critical family circumstances really are to children’s readiness to engage in learning, and thrive and have choices in life, this kind of work is something that’s going to become more and more important.” Wasser Gish says. She’s the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Center for Optimized Student Support, which is the home of City Connects and part of the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College.
“In Salem, if you interviewed principals right now, they would tell you they wouldn’t have known what to do in their first few weeks of closures if they didn’t have their City Connects Coordinators at their virtual side to help them pivot and use the student support system that we had within the buildings [and shift them] to a virtual world,” Ellen Wingard, the City Connects Program Manager in Salem, Mass., says.
“[Because of] having the City Connects model, where we have this tiering system — we review every child in the fall — so we have insight as to who our children are, who our families are,” Stephanie Sanabria, a City Connects Coordinator in Springfield, Mass. says.
To hear the rest of the conversation, please listen to the podcast.
Students at the JPS Success Academy have the great opportunity to learn how to practice yoga with local teacher Kristina Benson! Such a wonderful way for students to learn relaxation techniques! #jpsnypic.twitter.com/dqb961v54y
City Connects has expanded. We’ve launched in the Success Academy, a trauma-informed school that’s part of the public school system in Jamestown, N.Y.
“Success Academy serves students in grades five through ten who have experienced some school avoidant behavior due to either trauma or mental health needs that have manifested as difficulties doing well in school,” Maureen Diehl, the City Connects Program Manager, explains.
“These students are invited – not required – to attend our unique program, which has smaller class sizes and staff who are there to focus on students’ social emotional and behavioral health.”
“The goal is to get students on the right track and help them move back to their home schools.”
The school, which opened last fall and serves 50 students, is part of School Superintendent Brett Apthorpe’s effort to “combat the losses district students were experiencing due to the 72 percent poverty rate and every day poor living standards,”the Jamestown Gazette reports, adding, “The District has an unacceptable absentee rate as well.”Continue reading →
When COVID-19 shut down the Boston Public Schools, Lexy Marsh, the City Connects Coordinator at the Oliver Wendell Holmes Innovation School, felt a huge loss.
“I love going to school. I love the routine. So when our school closed, it was sad and stressful, but I quickly switched from how I was feeling to focusing on my students,” Marsh says.
“All of our kids qualify for the free, reduced lunch program. About 30% of our kids are homeless or displaced, which is a huge percentage. And about 50% of our kids receive some kind of special needs services.”
“And all my kids thrive on structure, even if they don’t want to admit it. They like coming to school because they know what to expect. They’re going to get breakfast, lunch and a snack. They know what teachers think they’re capable of doing, and they’re going to rise to that level. So, it was sad to know they wouldn’t have this structure.”
So when her school switched to online learning, Marsh created new structures, as a peek at her weekly schedule reveals:Continue reading →