Sky’s the limit: Connecting kids to career options

Laurie Roule used to be a history teacher at STEM Middle Academy in Springfield, Mass. Then she decided to switch careers. And now she’s helping sixth, seventh, and eighth graders think about their careers as the academy’s City Connects coordinator. 

“I taught eighth grade forever,” Roule says. “And eighth grade is when students choose what high school they want to go to. Kids usually just choose the most popular schools. So I thought it would be cool if they could be exposed to different careers, which might change their minds about where to go to high school.”

So Roule set up what has become an annual career fair, and she invites local professionals. 

“I wanted the kids to know that there’s more out there than they’re aware of. And I want them to be curious and ask questions.”

“The people we invite to the fair have fun and love talking to the kids. So we have a lot of people who come back every year.” 

That has included carpenters, electricians, firefighters who bring their truck, police officers, an archeologist, and a large animal veterinarian. Representatives from the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy have come as well as a nurse practitioner, paramedics, a physical therapist, crime scene investigators (CSI), a camera crew from Channel 40, a meteorologist from Channel 22, the director of a local music school, car detailers, and automotive technicians from Sarat Ford, a nearby dealership.

“When I went to high school, I was very interested in chemistry, but that wasn’t encouraged because I was a girl,” Roule says. “So I like to bring women in from many careers,” including a member of the CSI team. “I want the girls to know that they can go into any field they want to.”

Continue reading “Sky’s the limit: Connecting kids to career options”

Offering English Learners an “adventure”

Adventure can’t often be found in a spreadsheet, but Carla Ann Femino did just that. By analyzing data, she found a way to turn a concern into an exciting learning experience.

Femino, the new City Connects Coordinator at Beverly High School, in Beverly, Mass., was conducting a whole class review when she noticed a concern that cut across grades. 

“The students in our English Learner program had really high needs and didn’t have enough supports to address that,” Femino says. “I like data, and I know data helps people understand what students need, so I did an informal extension of my whole class review.”

Femino began talking to English Learner program teachers who taught students who speak Albanian, Arabic, Italian, Nepali, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. 

About 67 percent of these students faced mild, moderate, or severe risks in addition to their strengths.

As she conducted her review, Femino also found isolation. Some students weren’t connected to the larger social life of their school, and many weren’t well connected to their larger communities. And they were still building the skills to cope with the stresses of attending a school where most people speak fluent English.

Another factor, Femino says, is that “a lot of English Learner students have adult roles. They have jobs. They have to take care of younger siblings. They might come to school tired, but they still work hard at school, and they find the courage it takes to be resilient.” 

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A Library, llamas, and City Connects

Risen Christ Library
Risen Christ student with her sun-decorated library card — and a koala

With one small card, families in Minneapolis can unlock a world of castles, llamas, and “crafternoons.” That’s why Maggie Longsdorf is on a mission to make sure that the families in her school have library cards. 

“Any time we have a school event, I have a table out where there are always library card applications,” Longsdorf says. She’s the City Connects Coordinator at Risen Christ Catholic School in Minneapolis, Minn. “I tell families, I can have a library card for you in a week.”

It’s easy to forget how much libraries have to offer, Longsdorf says. But a library card is a passport to a world of new opportunities at nearby Hosmer Library, a building that looks like a small castle outside and holds tons of resources and opportunities inside.

Longsdorf says the three most popular things Risen Christ families do at Hosmer Library is borrow books, participate in the tutoring program, and join in summer activities.

“Having access to all those free books is great. And the library is also a great resource for families who are looking for extra academic support for their children outside of school,” Longsdorf adds. “Since the pandemic, a lot of students have been trying to catch up, and it has been difficult to find free academic interventions and support.

“But at the library, there’s free tutoring. All you need is a library card. Once you have that, you can go to any of the libraries in the Hennepin County system and get tutoring. And at Hosmer Library, there are tutors who speak Spanish,” which is important because many of Risen Christ’s students also speak Spanish, including those who come from other countries.

Continue reading “A Library, llamas, and City Connects”

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. 

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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”
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