They may not physically be back in schools, but community school coordinators are still working hard for their students and communities.
Last week was Community School Coordinator Appreciation Week, where coordinators at the city’s 17 community schools were recognized for their efforts in keeping parents and community members informed and connected to resources during COVID-19. In Northeast Philadelphia, Caitlyn Boyle is coordinator at George Washington High School, and Ester Rochet-Curet is the coordinator at Hamilton Disston School.
Community schools are a partnership between the city and the school district so the schools are responsive and provide solutions to their surrounding communities. Once COVID-19 shut down schools in the spring, Boyle and Rochet-Curet acted to make sure their communities stayed connected to resources.
“My role turned into a lot of direct service, connecting families to unemployment, healthcare and rent assistance resources,” said Boyle. She compiled a resource guide in multiple languages so families could find any assistance they needed.
Boyle also worked to ensure the school’s WorkReady program, in partnership with the Philadelphia Youth Network, was able to provide students with paid work over the summer even during the pandemic. More than 150 students participated in a virtual version of the program.
Rochet-Curet ensured that all families were able to have stable internet access through ConnectedPHL, a program that’s providing free Internet connection to households with students, and also helping with the Google Chromebook drop-off that allowed families with students to claim a laptop.
She also worked to make sure parents were connected over the school’s online pages like Class Dojo and Facebook, where they could find information on resources. Over the summer, the school partnered with NestCo. for a summer presentation series.
“It was a bumpy road especially at first, but everyone is getting accustomed to new ways and it keeps getting better,” Rochet-Curet said.
If there is a bright side to virtual learning, it’s making it easier for parents to connect with schools virtually rather than in person.
“The virus has forced us to adapt in many ways that don’t necessarily need to go anywhere when life gets back to normal. It’s critical we meet parents where they are, and this gives us the opportunity to continue to do so, virtually,” Boyle said.
Coordinators were thanked with a basket filled with tasty Philly-themed treats like Tastykakes and Wawa gift cards. ••