Our School Outreach Coordinators at Sequoyah Middle School, Todd Beamer High School and Illahee Middle School partnered with Brooklake Church and Good Shepherd Youth Outreach to plan a Resource Fair for local families! Pat Perkins, our School Outreach Coordinator at Illahee was elated to report the event was a huge success, drawing in more than 200 families! School supplies, diapers, hygiene products, clothes, food and other resources were distributed at the event. Good Shepard Youth joined the event providing fresh proteins, vegetables and dairy. Our School Outreach Coordinator Alicia Vasey-Neilson, remarked on the overwhelming sense of gratitude from the community, saying, “many families thanked us and let us know that the items were very helpful due to the financial stress COVID had put on them.” A big thank you to our partners helping make this event a success!
Communities In Schools strives to surround students with a community of support, creating a positive safe environment for each and every student to succeed. This month we have two stories that highlight the bond our students have with our School Outreach Coordinators on their journeys to success. Alexis Jordan, School Outreach Coordinator at Totem Middle School, received an email from one of her students’ teachers. In the email the teacher explained, in class they spent some time talking about school culture and relationships they had with adults in the building. Alexis received this message because a student specifically called out her name as an adult they trusted at Totem. The students recognize she cares about them and respects them. After reading the email, Alexis felt appreciated and is happy to know students at Totem brought her name up, and feel that she is a trustworthy person.
Another School Outreach Coordinator, Shana Ludwig at Decatur High School, had the opportunity to hear one of her former students reflect on their time working with her. Shana took part in an interview with her student for an event. During the interview, Tezmin Wright talked about his bond with Shana, recounting his trust in her and the impact she ultimately had on his success. Tezmin spoke from the heart reflecting on his state of mind and lack of caring or motivation prior to working with her saying, “before me and Shana got to where we were now, I was the type of kid who really didn’t care about much.” Tezmin goes on at length describing how Shana lifted him up and supported him, giving him the space he needed, “because when Shana was there, she gave us that outlet we needed to feel comfortable. A lot of schools don’t have that, every school should get them a Shana.” It was a humbling experience for Shana to hear her student reflect on his time working with her. She felt more motivated than ever to make a difference supporting our students. Shana said, “when we truly listen to young people we empower them to be successful in school and have the courage and the confidence to go into adulthood and make the changes in the world they want to see.”
Speak On It
Our School Outreach Coordinator, Markese Walker-Brown at Truman Campus, kicked off the new school year with a virtual engagement series called “Speak On It”. Markese wanted to focus on finding ways of engaging students during virtual learning. The Speak On It series, invites special guests from the community to speak to our students on a variety of topics and their individual journeys. The first guest speaker for this series, Ajla Brama, is a young entrepreneur and investor from Youtube and Tiktok. Ajla agreed to speak about her journey, her business, and how she became successful using social media platforms.
Amanda Martinson, our School Outreach Coordinator at Lakota Middle School, brought some lunch time normalcy to her students by launching, “Lakota Lunches”. This lunchtime virtual group is an open invitation for students and staff to join in and eat lunch together. “During these virtual times it is important to try to make things as normal as we can for our students”, Amanda says. It has been an amazing opportunity for students to socialize with classmates, as well as staff. Amanda excitedly remarked, “It’s the highlight of my day!”
DiscoverU is an effort to help build a “beyond high school” culture. It is an opportunity for educators and youth-serving organizations in Seattle and South King County to join together in leading college and career activities that help students explore their futures. DiscoverU Week ran October 12th thru the16th. Our School Outreach Coordinators at TAF@Saghalie, Federal Way High School and Illahee Middle School led two events for students during this week. Our School Outreach Coordinator, Kimberly Foster, was excited to share how students were able to share who they are, what their dreams are and how they are working toward accomplishing those goals.
The “Exitosos” event featured a panel of Latinx/Hispanic leaders in the community who shared their “caminos al exito” (journey of success) with students. The “Black Excellence” event brought Black professionals, business owners, and leaders into a conversation with students about what it means to move the community forward to their own narrative of success. As the panelist shared their stories they also told each student to create their own accessible pathways to their future goals and to always remember that their path to success is their journey and no one else. Gina Forest, our School Outreach Coordinator at Federal Way High School regarded the event as a tremendous success! A special thank you to all of our partners and contributors willing to share their stories and talents to make DiscoverU week such a success for our Federal Way and Highline youth.
Another DiscoverU success story was shared by our School Outreach Coordinator, Amber Rowe Mosley, at Thomas Jefferson High School. Amber coordinated with the financial aid department at Green River Community College (GRCC), to prepare a financial aid workshop for undocumented students. Shawn Warner of GRCC took participants through a step by step look at the process of applying for and receiving funds for college when undocumented. Time was spent explaining the difference between the FAFSA (federal aid) and WAFSA (Washington state aid) and who is eligible for which or both. Participants were encouraged to ask questions during the webinar for a more personalized experience. The presentation also included student perspective from a currently enrolled undocumented student who has received state funding via the WAFSA. Having her perspective on getting required documents from parents and navigating cultural differences was priceless and was a key component for participants.
Our School Outreach Coordinator, Cierra Gamble, at Todd Beamer High School, led her girls group called “Woke Women” in their first meeting of this school year. Cierra noted how wonderful it was to see all the girls faces and begin planning out the year. She is excited to see what these young women have in store for their school and community this year.
School to You
Our School Outreach Coordinator, Makenna Lester, helped out with the “School to You” supply pick up at Kilo Middle School. “School to You” is a program bringing learning materials and supplies to students. Families were able to pick up class materials, as well as free books. Since this will be Makenna’s first year at Kilo, she jumped at the opportunity to meet Kilo students and their families while maintaining social distancing.
At Madrona Elementary, our School Outreach Coordinator, Precious Yarborough, coordinated a virtual yoga event in partnership with Three Trees Yoga. During one of the classes Precious joined this month, she was able to hear students share their experiences with Three Trees Yoga with their school teacher and other students in class. One student said he thought it was funny that at one point, all the children looked like they were napping, but really, they were all meditating! The teacher asked students to share their experiences so that their peers would be encouraged to join the next yoga session, which will be a recurring event.
Our students are overcoming new challenges and barriers every day throughout this time of distance learning. Our School Outreach Coordinator, Fatou Bah, at Tyee High School, shared a story of success through adversity. Fatou is currently working with 3 students in a family 9 where the primary internet is sharing a hotspot. The family has 5 school aged children all sharing the same hotspot. Unfortunately, this means that the connection is very slow and all 5 students must work together. “It is an inspiration to see just how resilient our students are during this pandemic”, Fatou says. All 3 students that she is working with have had perfect attendance to class everyday and have been doing an excellent job working through their technical challenges.
Burien Youth Coalition presented a virtual community meeting on what anti-racism can look like at Highline High school. Our School Outreach Coordinator Marcela Arreola, took part in this event as a facilitator. The conversation was led and organized by community members and Highline High School staff. Marcela had the opportunity to connect with students and community members by facilitating conversations in small break out rooms. They are hoping to continue to facilitate these conversations with students, staff and community members.