1. Tell us about your community school. How has the community school strategy impacted your students, families, and community?
Our school adopted the Community School Initiative this past year and we have been implementing the strategies full force. We have seen such an incredible response not only from our staff, students, and families, but our entire community. We have started an early enrichment program that serves birth-3 years old on our campus each Tuesday morning. This is a time for parents to not only engage in developmentally appropriate activities with their children but also to socialize with other parents of the same age children. Our clothing closet has helped many families across our community that are in need. We make this available to all families during school family nights and by appointment. And, our after-school programs have provided enrichment activities for our students that they would have otherwise never been able to experience.
2. Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do because I have a true passion for helping people find the resources they need to be successful. This might mean being successful as a teacher, parent, student or as a member of the community. I want to create a positive environment for our families and students so they know that each one of their voices are heard. I absolutely love the look on a student’s face when they experience something new and exciting. I love to see their excitement and know that maybe that experience they received during the early enrichment program or after-school program could impact their future. This excitement is what motivates me each day I walk into work.
3. Can you tell me a story about a student, family or community that you directly impacted as a coordinator?
The one story that immediately comes to mind was when we had a young lady come to our clothing closet and had asked for clothes for five children that lived with her, three of which she was the aunt. One of the boys was trying on some basic shirts and he kept saying, “I have never had a school give me free stuff!” The aunt/mom was so appreciative and told me that she had some clothes at home she would bring up to help other families. She stayed for several hours and volunteered in the clothing closet. She never once asked for clothes for herself and she wore the same clothes each time. She was truly someone that needed the help but was also willing to help others.
4. What are your biggest challenges?
My biggest challenge has been to find the funding to create all the experiences that I want to offer to our students and families. I have developed some great partnerships that I know will eventually lead to some opportunities for funding, but I would like it to come quicker. We know our school has the capacity to impact so many lives in the community and are working on finding the funding to make this possible.
5. What is the one thing you want to accomplish the most by the end of the school year?
It is so hard for me to come up with just one thing that I want to accomplish because I have so many ideas that I want to implement by the end of the year. I would say the biggest one is that I want to get more of a diverse group of families coming to our early enrichment programs. I am going to reach out more to our apartment complexes in our community and to churches that have a diverse population so we can reach as many families as possible. I want to have translators available at these programs so we can reach out to families that speak other languages. I want these early enrichment programs to be a time where families from all cultures and backgrounds are welcomed and accepted.
6. What’s one piece of advice you would give to other coordinators?
My piece of advice would be to not get overwhelmed and take baby steps. It is hard to remember but it is crucial to take baby steps so that you have programs that are sustainable. We want these programs to positively impact the community for years to come. It is hard not to try to do everything at once. I have had to learn to prioritize the needs of the community and begin with the most critical needs first. We did a staff, parent, student, and community partner needs assessment when I first started that really helped me prioritize these needs.
7. What’s one quote that you live by?
The simple saying that I live by is: TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK.