From the archives: the power of fun

While the blog is on summer vacation, we’re sharing past posts about the many ways City Connects helps students thrive. 

This week’s roundup looks at how City Connects Coordinators bring fun activities into their schools. 

*     *     *     *

Community Partners: Girls on the Run Twin Cities
City Connects Blog, January 25 2018

Sometimes a community partner provides fun, exercise, inspiration, confidence, and a chance to cheer for grown-ups. That’s the story of Girls on the Run Twin Cities, a nonprofit organization that teaches girls how to fulfill their potential, serve their communities, and run a 5K race.

*     *     *     *

Summer opportunities fair at Dayton Early College Academy

Summer: services, opportunities, and fun
City Connects Blog, May 30, 2019

As the school year draws to a close, City Connects Coordinators across the country are helping students prepare for summer, connecting them to services and opportunities that will help them succeed when school isn’t in session.

For Asha Quattrocchi, a City Connects Coordinator at the Cold Spring School in Indianapolis, Ind., this means sharing information and making connections.

Continue reading “From the archives: the power of fun”

From the archives: City Connects Coordinators build relationships and deliver resources

While the blog is on summer vacation, we’re sharing past posts about the many ways City Connects helps students thrive. 

This week’s roundup looks at how City Connects Coordinators build relationships with students, parents, and schools to deliver services and connect kids to enrichment opportunities. 

*     *     *     *

Relationships matter in City Connects schools
City Connects Blog, September 12, 2019

It’s a new school year, so City Connects Coordinators are reinforcing existing relationships and building new ones. 

At Catholic Central Elementary School, in Springfield, Ohio, where City Connects’ Coordinator Josh Richardt works, he tells students in pre-k through fifth grade, “I am so glad you’re in school today.”

There is also a sign hanging in the hallway that says, “You belong here.” 

These messages weave students, especially new ones, firmly into the school’s fabric. And they build on a key finding from the developmental sciences: Relationships matter.

Continue reading “From the archives: City Connects Coordinators build relationships and deliver resources”

From the archives: our community partners

While the blog is on summer vacation, we’re sharing past posts and social media coverage about the many ways City Connects helps students thrive. 

This week’s roundup looks at how City Connects works with community partners around the country to bring the right services to the right students at the right time. 

*     *     *     *

City Connects and Catie’s Closet: working with a community partner that’s just down the hall
City Connects Blog, January 24, 2019

Last school year, Lincoln Elementary School in Springfield, Mass., had a custodian’s closet that was nothing special.

This year that space has been transformed – painted, carpeted and decorated – and turned into Catie’s Closet, a cheerful place where students can get donated clothes and toiletries.

Continue reading “From the archives: our community partners”

City Connects in the news

City Connects Coordinators have been working harder than ever to meet the needs of students, families, and communities. 

Here’s a roundup of news stories that share some of the work coordinators are doing.

*

In Salem, Mass., a fire that damaged five buildings prompted a community-wide response that includes city officials, local charities, and City Connects Coordinators. 

“Our thoughts are with our Salem school families who were impacted by yesterday’s fire on Hancock Street,” Salem’s School Superintendent Stephen Zrike said in a news release

“Salem Public Schools’ City Connects Coordinators, Family Engagement Facilitators, and school leaders are working with identified staff and families who may have been impacted. If you have questions or have been impacted by the fire, please contact your school to be connected with those who can assist.”

*

In Indianapolis, Ind., Mayor Joe Hogsett is addressing the city’s mental health challenges. In March, he pledged to “implement a clinician-led mobile crisis team to respond to calls for help involving mental health situations in Indiana’s capital city,” the Indianapolis Star reports, adding that another part of the city’s efforts to address mental health is City Connects, which “lets the city work with school children and their families on mental health-related issues.”

 And as Indianapolis and other City Connects sites show, the supportive work that coordinators do inside schools integrates with and enhances community wide efforts.

Continue reading “City Connects in the news”

Children Are Resilient: A Letter to the Editor from Dr. Mary Walsh

An April 24 article in the Boston Globe tackled the challenges educators are dealing with in the third year of the pandemic, including how to support struggling students.

“Everything I’ve trained for, everything that’s worked in the past, none of it’s working,” said Laura Messner, a middle school English language arts literacy specialist in Scituate. “I’m very worried about what’s coming down the pike if we don’t think about how we’re going to address these challenges that are not temporary challenges.”

Dr. Mary Walsh, executive director of the Center for Thriving Children and expert in developmental psychology, wrote a response to the article, focused on concrete ways to better support students and teachers.

Dr. Walsh’s letter was published last week. 

“The article “Teachers help students struggling to succeed” powerfully covers the impacts of students’ challenges. It also highlights missed opportunities for more effectively supporting student — and teacher — well-being and learning.

“Though the challenges of the current COVID-19 era are real, children are also resilient. Mental health is bolstered by a range of interventions. Mild to moderate needs can be addressed with a caring school environment; after-school programs; mentors; participation in sports, arts, or other extracurricular activities; and relationships with peers and adults, while serious mental health needs require therapeutic treatment.

“Adding more counselors and social workers to extend current strategies is unlikely to be financially viable or sufficient to meet the need. Instead, schools that create systems of support to provide every student with an individualized support plan are seeing improvements. These systems connect each child to a tailored set of resources and enrichment opportunities to address that student’s strengths and needs, drawing on resources in the school, the community, or both. These systems of “integrated student supports” are now known to improve student well-being and learning, as well as support teachers who, early research shows, are less likely to leave the profession if their school has such a system in place.”

What Dr. Walsh conveyed in her letter reflects the City Connects practice, and its evidence of positive short- and long-term impacts on student learning and thriving. To learn more about the City Connects model, click here and to learn more about best practices for integrated student support go here.

Giving Back: Daniel Triana Alvarado joins the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children

Daniel Triana Alvarado was 7 years old when his family moved from Mexico to Westborough, Mass., where he began a journey through public education that prepared him for and led him to the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children, the home of City Connects.

Westborough, Triana recalls, was a town with resources for families and students. In high school, Triana had a guidance counselor, Steven Favulli, who talked to him and his family about college.

“My parents still talk about how important Mr. Favulli was,” Triana says. “He made my parents feel like they had a grasp of what was going on in school because he spoke Spanish, and he took the time to help them understand.” 

Triana enrolled in Worcester State University (WSU) where he decided to major in business administration, attracted by the range of doors the degree promised to open.

“What did I get out of going to Worcester State University?” Triana says, musing about his college years. “Opportunities.”

These weren’t typical opportunities. Triana was working full time in college, so he couldn’t participate in internships. And he hadn’t developed career aspirations based on seeing the careers of his parents or of family friends. Instead, his opportunities came in the form of personal connections.

Continue reading “Giving Back: Daniel Triana Alvarado joins the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children”

Building on a career in school counseling, Jennifer Bouckaert joins City Connects

When Jennifer Bouckaert began her career in the public schools of Southbridge, Mass., as a school adjustment counselor, she saw that the schools and the students were overwhelmed.

“Students were struggling behaviorally. There weren’t a lot of structures or systems in place to support them. We didn’t have preventative or proactive procedures,” she recalls.

“We were firefighting. We weren’t problem-solving and getting kids what they needed.”

 In 2016, Southbridge’s public schools were taken over by officials from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, who put the school system into receivership, citing years of “persistently low student performance” as well as the fact that “Since 2011, seven individuals have served as superintendent, and there has been a similar level of turnover in other leadership positions in the district.”

Massachusetts, the Department said, had provided years of assistance and resources to Southbridge, “but the district-led efforts did not improve student performance significantly.”

Bouckaert worked with her Southbridge schools colleagues to build new systems and structures. They partnered with the Center for Behavioral Education and Research to implement the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program or PBIS.

“The goal was to help build the capacity of the teachers and school staff to create an environment where all students would thrive. We developed a system of positive acknowledgement where students were praised for what they did well and retaught expectations when necessary. This was the beginning of creating a positive, proactive climate and culture.” 

Continue reading “Building on a career in school counseling, Jennifer Bouckaert joins City Connects”

Our community partner persists through the pandemic: the YMCA of the North Shore

Every day, Charity Lezama, Executive Director of the Salem YMCA, does two things: cope with Covid and ask vital questions.

This has meant keeping kids safe and rebuilding programs that had been shuttered by the pandemic.

It has also meant actively asking: “How do we push ourselves to think bigger? How do we ensure that our kids can thrive in and outside of our program?” Lezama says. 

The YMCA is a City Connects community partner in the Salem Public School system, and its pandemic story is one of persistence and partnerships that City Connects is proud to contribute to.

The pandemic’s challenges have been tough. Before Covid, the YMCA served 540 kids in its afterschool program, including students from City Connects’ schools. Since the pandemic, the program has shrunk to less than half that size. Kids’ and families’ needs have soared. And finding qualified staff has been difficult. 

But in the face of a global disaster, the YMCA took action. In the fall of 2020, its board added a committee that focuses on social emotional learning and mental health.

Continue reading “Our community partner persists through the pandemic: the YMCA of the North Shore”
%d bloggers like this: