Despite the challenges of COVID-19, it’s a new year that’s full of promise; and here at City Connects, we are excited about what’s next.
We’re growing in Indianapolis and in Massachusetts. We have a new technical assistance center based at Marian University in the Midwest, so that we can work with more schools in that part of the country. We’re hiring new staff, and we’re seeing how the City Connects model is effective, resilient, and making a difference for children, families, teachers, schools, and communities, especially during the pandemic.
We couldn’t do this work alone, which is why we’re so grateful to our many community partners, the nonprofit organizations and businesses that work with us to support students.
Noman Khanani never expected to work in educational data analytics. But this spring he’s part of the research team that dives deep into City Connects’ data, and he’s sharing some of the results at national conferences.
“I had always been interested in data,” he recalls. “When I was younger, I always enjoyed math and statistics, but I never really thought of pursuing this as a career. It was just something I was good at in the classroom.”
Khanani enrolled in graduate school at Boston University’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies master’s degree program. He thought he would go on to work in administration.
Then he got a job as a research assistant.
“That was my first exposure to education research and the use of quantitative analytics and statistics to measure student learning and understand the impact of programs and interventions. This work combined my interests in statistics with working for social good.”Continue reading →
The study was written byAmy Heberle, a psychology professor at Clark University and a former City Connects research fellow; Úna Ní Sheanáin, a former post-doctoral fellow who worked with City Connects; Mary Walsh, City Connects’ Executive Director and a professor at Boston College; and by City Connects graduate assistants Anna Hamilton and Agnes Chung, and former City Connects Coordinator Victoria Eells Lutas.
“When children walk into their schools, they make everyone feel what they feel. Teachers, principals, even superintendents can all feel the burdens students carry, especially those who struggle with poverty and despair. Some children talk about their challenges. Others don’t. Either way, educators and administrators feel the weight of the hunger, homelessness, mental health challenges, incarceration of parents, and other hardships that many children bear. We have to feel it, because being connected to children is the only way that we can successfully do our jobs.”Continue reading →
In the past, Stephanie Sanabria, a City Connects Coordinator in Springfield, Mass., had beenknown as the Bed Lady because she helped secure beds for local families.
Now, she’s essentially been promoted to Desk Wizard.
“The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless helps us with beds,” through its A Bed for Every Child initiative, Sanabria says. “But they realized that the need goes beyond beds. Because of remote learning, kids also need desks. When I got the coalition’s email about this, I thought, We need this in Springfield.”
Sanabria’s long-standing relationship with the coalition made it easier to bring this resource to Springfield students.Continue reading →
“Springfield’s first priority was the safety and well-being of all our students and families,” Julie Donovan, Springfield’s City Connects Program Manager says. That meant focusing on the essential basics of food and housing and on keeping kids virtually connected to school.
So Springfield’s 28 City Connects Coordinators got to work. They reached out to families who weren’t responding to teachers, and they helped children living in homeless shelters get laptops and Internet hotspots.Continue reading →
In 2010, City Connects launched in Springfield, Mass., and since then we’ve seen a decade of strong growth in the city.
We recently shared this progress at a meeting of the Springfield Public Schools’School Committee.
“City Connects and Springfield have a strong partnership,” Anastasia Raczek says. She is the Associate Director of Research & Evaluation at the Center for Optimized Student Support, where City Connects is based. The center is part of Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development.
“City Connects’ growth in Springfield from implementation at a small scale into a districtwide solution offers a model for other districts considering how to address the non-academic and out-of-school needs of their students.”Continue reading →
Because parents are so vital to their children’s education, City Connects Coordinators work hard to engage them – work that helps build a stronger sense of community and that can help parents who are coping with a crisis.
“Just about every month of the school year, there is something we do here at the early childhood center for family engagement,” Stephanie Sanabria, the City Connects Coordinator at Springfield’s Early Childhood Education Center says.
“Because the children are so young,they are closely tied to their parents, so we need parents’ participation and support. You can’t separate that out. That’s why the positive relationship that we form is so important.”
And since Sanabria is in a preschool setting, her family engagement efforts are fun and varied.
There’s Pumpkin Night in October and an evening of building gingerbread houses in December. In August, Sanabria will sometimes accompany teachers on home visits to provide Spanish language support.Continue reading →