1. Congratulations! You will be our new Coordinators Network Co-Chair! What is your vision for the Coordinators Network?
I envision a great accessible network of coordinators that can connect from various cities, counties, and states to share best practices, collaborate, and share success stories for professional/personal inspiration. Additionally, I'd like to have a monthly or quarterly "Self-Care" seminar where best practices can be shared for educators in the field to practice self-care.
2. What motivated you to run for Co-Chair?
I've always enjoyed being of service to others, whether it be with students, parents, partners, or peers. I believe that I can bring some innovative ideas to the table that can inspire, motivate, and gather educators for positive community impact. I also enjoy bringing individuals together to share best practices and brainstorm on how to best serve our children.
3. Tell us about your community school. How has the community school strategy impacted your students, families, and community?
The community school strategy has empowered our stakeholders who are nestled deep in the heart of South Los Angeles. These stakeholders, whether it is parents or children, are welcomed by various staff members at the school site and are encouraged to give input and engage at various levels. Our parents participate as partners, and are active in the school’s councils such as School Site Council, and our students act as leaders that represent their student body, such as our 5th and 6th Grade Student Council. I’ve been blessed to see the resiliency in these stakeholders and their willingness to become active in their school site. They are vocal about their needs and the school is welcomed to address those needs, such as dental services for our students and English Language classes for our parents.
4. What are some of the major challenges facing your students and families? What partnerships have you built to address those issues?
Many of the major issues that our families are facing are the experience of trauma as well as issues dealing with immigration. Our school was sensitive to those needs and decided to hire a 5-day school based Psychiatric Social Worker who works directly with our diverse student population as well as provides resources to families and children. Additionally, a strong partnership with Planned Parenthood was established two years ago. The partnership created a platform for the Planned Parenthood organization to send a staff member to present on various topics including nutrition, socio-emotional needs, as well as mental health. A partnership with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) was also established to address the various topics, concerns, and issues regarding immigration. CHIRLA and the school plan on educating not only the parents, but also the 5th and 6th grade students on “Know Your Rights” to best mitigate the fear stemming from immigration issues.
5. Can you tell us a story about a student, family or community that you directly impacted as a coordinator?
One of our students was having some trouble focusing in class and completing his assignments. He was a new student to the school and had transferred from a neighboring elementary school. This student was struggling with the new change in environment as well as processing that his permanent caretaker would now be his grandmother. Although he had opportunities to visit his mom and had no resentment towards his grandmother, he was not comfortable. The teacher confided in me that the student was having various behavior issues in class and needed some support. After speaking with the student, it was apparent to me that he needed a little bit more support than usual. I connected him with our school-based social worker as well as the assistant principal who worked out various plans on how to improve his behavior and motivation in class. Additionally, he was connected with another male teacher from a different grade level, so that the student would check in to the teacher’s class in the event that he was “benched” from the playground. This opened the opportunity for the student to get additional mentoring from a male figure, which was an absent factor in his life. In the brief few months we’ve worked with this student, we have seen a great deal of improvement in his relationships with his teacher and peers. He expressed gratitude for the team who has diligently worked with him rather than the usual “given up on” attitude that he has experienced the majority of his life.
6. What’s one piece of advice you would give to other coordinators?
Keep an open ear and never downplay your role with the school. As a Community School Coordinator, it is extremely important to identify critical moments when you can act as an agent for support, resource connections, and as a thought partner. And, be visible during supervision! Kids love seeing the adults and connecting with them!
7. What’s one quote that you live by?
The wise build bridges; the foolish build barriers.