Once upon a time, Shannon Stamegna thought she might go to law school. But after she started looking at educational programs, she found the social work program at Salem State University.
“The description of the program and of learning to help others just matched my personality,” she says. “I also loved the idea of working with families and connecting them to community services.”
“I think there are times when parents think it’s best to figure things out themselves, when really they would be so much better off asking for help and getting connected to community organizations that are excited to provide support.”
Stamegna worked in community health as a licensed clinical social worker. But because of the pandemic she had been working at home, still helping people but at a distance.
Then she heard about a job opening at City Connects. So two months ago, she jumped into a new challenge and a year-old pandemic and became the City Connects Coordinator at St. Pius V School in Lynn, Mass.Continue reading →
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.
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: