1. Tell us about your community school. How has the community school strategy impacted your students, families, and community?
Northwest is on year two of being a community school. Through our community school initiative, we have been able to keep our doors open longer on a daily basis as well as been able to provide services for the students, families and the community at large. We have 11 feeder elementary schools here, 7 of which are community schools, so being a community school allows us to continue to support our families through the tough 3 years of middle school.
2. Why do you do what you do?
While this job has many challenges and frustrations at times, there are always things that give us a sense of worth and accomplishment. Just when you think things have been tough, something occurs that you have had a hand in and you are reminded of how valuable your job is and how amazing this community school movement is!
3. Can you tell me a story about a student, family or community that you directly impacted as a coordinator?
This past Thanksgiving, we hosted a Community Thanksgiving. We invited the whole community (immigrants, refugees, and longtime natives) to come and enjoy a day together to share cultures from around the world and a sense of thankfulness. We had Halal and non-Halal tables filled with food from every culture as well as entertainment from several countries with everything that day translated into English, Spanish and Arabic. We had over 400 people in attendance, and still months later I hear people talking about this amazing day and the many people who came together.
4. What are your biggest challenges?
Parent engagement always seems to be something that we can do better with. At the middle school level, it seems to be an even bigger problem as students this age don’t want their parents coming in to embarrass them.
5. What is the one thing you want to accomplish the most by the end of the school year?
One of my goals this year was to increase student voices, and just last week we had a student panel for our rising sixth graders and their parents. These students had an auditorium full of people to whom they gave their experiences as well as answered questions from the audience. Who better to give an overview of middle school, then the students themselves?
6. What’s one piece of advice you would give to other coordinators?
Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to build a successful community school that addresses the individual needs of that specific neighborhood.
7. What’s one quote that you live by?
“Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character.” - William Arthur Ward