Tapping data and community partners to help English Language Learners

In Massachusetts and Minnesota, City Connects staff are helping schools meet the needs of English Language Learners (ELL). 

“In Salem, the predominant language that’s spoken, other than English, is Spanish,” according to Ellen Wingard the City Connects Program Manager in Salem, Mass., where 31.2 percent of the district’s 3,620 students speak a first language that isn’t English, and 13.2 percent are ELL students.

“We also have a pretty large Portuguese speaking population and a growing Albanian population and some of our students speak Arabic.”

So, when Salem’s language acquisition teams meet monthly to review the needs and progress of ELL students, City Connects Coordinators are at the table. 

“The coordinators are prepared to talk about any mitigating factors for language development,” Wingard explains. “They share critical data about a student’s family, health, and social/emotional wellbeing.”  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 2/18/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Research finds that schools are not prepared to meet students’ demand for mental health services.

Colorado expands mental health first aid training for teachers.

Play makes a comeback in kindergarten.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Dreaming bigger with City Connects

Josiah Quincy School students


“We love mentoring,” City Connects Coordinator Will Osier of Boston’s Josiah Quincy School says. 

That’s why every week on Wednesdays, 20 girls from the Quincy School in grades eight through 11 go into the heart of downtown Boston and meet with mentors at the online furniture and home goods company Wayfair.

City Connects works in the Quincy Upper school serving students in grades 6-12. In the upper grades, the City Connects model helps older children dream big. And just as they do in elementary schools, Osier and other coordinators working with older students provide individualized services and opportunities that meet students’ strengths and address their needs. Coordinators engage students in designing personalized plans and connect them to resources, relationships, and opportunities that can boost their college and career aspirations.

The Wayfair mentorship program is one good example. It was launched last month by one of the Quincy School’s community partners, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 2/10/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Technology is helping educators deter bad behavior and identify students facing crises.

Washington state is considering ways to fund staff who provide mental health services for students.

Baltimore students have missed an aggregated 1.5 million hours of class time because of deficient school buildings.

To read more, click on the following links.

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The Weekly Connect 2/3/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

New York City Community Schools reduce absenteeism and increase on-time grade progression.

Alabama’s Department of Education seeks more state funding for mental health programs.

Federal data shows student homelessness is at an all time high.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Cold kids, warm hearts: the community steps up for children in need

It’s typical for City Connects Coordinators in colder cities like Springfield and Minneapolis to hold coat drives, often working with community partners, to collect coats as well as hats, scarves, gloves, and boots for students. 

“We do a lot of clothing drives,” Sarah White, the coordinator at Boston’s Winship School, says. “In the fall, we do a uniform swap; at the end of the year, we’ll do another one. And the program Caps for Kids sends over 300 hats a year.” 

But White noticed that while coat drives are great for gathering coats for younger children in kindergarten or first grade, the drives are less likely to pull in coats that fit fifth graders.  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 1/27/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Historically Black Colleges and Universities offer K-12 leaders strong examples of how to promote African-American students’ success.

More states are expanding access to free school meals.

Most public schools in Minneapolis have a therapist on site.

To read more, click on the following links.

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City Connects helps tackle “The Great Divide”

Last fall, the Boston Globe told a tale of two students — Jada Pierre and Britney Mendez – that shows how harmful educational inequities can be. 

We read this article – part of the Globe’s series, “The Great Divide: Race, Class, and Opportunity in our Schools” – and we were struck anew by the stark description of educational inequalities across Massachusetts.

For Jada and Britney – both high school students and both the children of immigrants living in Boston – a key difference was where they went to high school. Jada attended Newton South, located in one of Boston’s wealthier suburbs. Britney went to Brighton High, “a floundering city school,” the Globe says, “where fewer than 30 percent of graduates earn a college degree or other credential within six years of graduating.” 

In 2016, state education officials labeled Brighton an “underperforming school,” which meant that the district had to come up with a turnaround plan. In addition, many of the school’s students have “significant unmet needs beyond campus, ranging from mental health concerns to immigration anxieties. Most are poor, and many arrive at Brighton after struggling at other schools.”  Continue reading