“Our community partners are so vital to the work of City Connects” Lynne Sullivan, City Connects’ Director of Implementation, says, “so we encourage each district to hold a community partner event each year.”
Whether it’s a breakfast in Minnesota or in Boston, these events let our partners and our staff come together to share both the work they’re doing and their goals for better serving students. They get to chat, brainstorm, and make connections.
“City Connects’ role as a convener is so important,” Sullivan says. “We want to create time for broader discussions. We want to cut through the pandemic’s isolation. And we want schools and community partners to hear directly from each other about what, specifically, they need from each other.
But in the middle of the pandemic, meeting face to face isn’t safe. So City Connects co-hosted a virtual event for our coordinators, our community partners, and the principals of public schools and Catholic schools in the Boston area.
Our co-hosts were the Boston Public Schools’ Office of Community Partnerships and the Archdiocese of Boston’s Catholic Schools Office.
“We convened everyone remotely so they could hear from each other what they’ve been doing during the pandemic,” Sullivan says, “and so they could talk about how they’re planning for the next school year.”
The event included a panel discussion featuring two principals — Efrain Toledano of Boston’s Tobin School and Beth Looney of Boston Catholic’s Mission Grammar School – explaining what they’ll need from community partners when their schools reopen in the fall.
“The principals said to the community partners, ‘Please share all your ideas for how you want to work with kids.’ ‘No idea is crazy,’ ” Sullivan says. “The principals are eager to identify the gaps in services for kids so that they can work with community partners to fill them.”
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 →
As schools find their way through the pandemic, meeting the needs of all students has become more important — and harder for educators to do. That’s why City Connects and the Center for Optimized Student Support, both part of Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development, are empowering educators across the country to rethink their approaches to providing student support.
As the country steers through the pandemic, successfully rebuilding schools is essential. Students, families, teachers, and school staff members have spent more than a year dealing with the chronic physical and emotional challenges of pandemic life, from losing contact with friends to losing jobs to losing loved ones.
K-12 schools can, the article explains, use more than $190 billion in federal relief funding to “transform the hodgepodge of services and programs available to students into powerful systems of learning and opportunity.”
The article’s co-authors are Joan Wasser Gish, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Boston College’s Center for Optimized Student Support, home to City Connects, and Brooks Bowden, a University of Pennsylvania Professor and the Director of the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education (CBCSE).
The outcomes of providing evidence-based integrated student support are impressive. Student attendance and achievement improve. Schools are using the model to navigate the pandemic. And as the article notes, CBCSE has studied City Connects and found a substantial return on investment.