1. Tell us about your community school.
There is a great partnership at the Arnold Community Learning Center (CLC) between the school, Lincoln Housing Authority as the lead agency, and Lincoln Parks & Recreation as the before- and after-school program service provider. Together, we have a greater capacity to truly meet the needs of the students, families, and the community. Students improve their academic performance by being involved in the extra academic and enrichment support before and after school; families meet their basic needs through services that provide clothing, food, and adult education; parents have the opportunity to become leaders and educational partners in the school; and neighborhoods are strengthened through intentional partnerships with local businesses and neighborhood residents.
2. Why do you do what you do?
Every day is different and I love that! I also love that I get to collaborate with amazing people and organizations to create meaningful change in our school and community. And seriously, you have to love a job where one minute you’re meeting with local employers to improve neighborhood employability and the next minute you’re exploding baking soda and vinegar with kindergarten students in Mad Scientist Club!
4. Can you tell me a story about a student, family or community that you directly impacted as a coordinator?
The holidays are always a giving time in our community and I recently helped coordinate businesses to adopt three of our families in need who received assistance with household needs and Christmas gifts for their kids. After being part of the deliveries for two of these families, I was struck by the kindness in our community, the gratefulness and tears from the families, and how we can make such an impact and lift people up when we work together.
5. What are your biggest challenges?
I think one of the biggest challenges for a community school coordinator, particularly one from a community-based agency, is trying to keep everyone “happy,” which is impossible, but we try to do it anyway because it makes our lives a lot more pleasant and our work more effective. It really does help to have some relationship skills and the ability to do some deep breathing if you want to do this job effectively!
6. If you could have one wish granted that would make your job easier, what would it be?
I would wish for a steady stream of qualified professional staff who loved working with kids and parents, had all the knowledge to do really amazing hands-on engaging activities, got along with everyone, showed up to work on time, never complained, and stayed for at least five years or forever!
7. What is the one thing you want to accomplish the most by the end of the school year?
I am working on an employability skills project with local businesses that I really want to get rolling by the end of the school year and into summer. I want to start getting people in the door, looking for jobs and attending trainings to improve their skills and get them on a career path to a sustainable income.
8. What’s one piece of advice you would give to other coordinators?
Don’t sweat the small stuff…and there’s a lot of small stuff. Remember to laugh a LOT…being around kids is great for that! And if you don’t have a passion for kids and families, you best move on to something else. (Oops… that’s three pieces of advice.)