19th Ward Schools Committee
April 5, 2022, 7:00pm
Present by Zoom: Phyllis Moss, Dan Ross, Jay Ross, John Boutet, Jane Braband, Shardai Bowman, Kelli Briggs, Sarah Yaworsky.
Introductions were shared which included welcoming Ms. Bowman, Community Liaison Specialist with the RCSD's Office of Parent Engagement and recently embarking on her position; and Ms. Briggs, Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships with the RCSD.
Congratulations were extended to Doug and Charlotte Giebel, Chairs for the 19WCA Spelling Bee, for their wonderful work pulling together the 12th Annual 19th Ward Spelling Bee (under such challenging circumstances), coordinating contributions from the University of Rochester and its Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity; the staff at our participating schools (#10, #16, #19 and #29); speaker Dana Miller; the Rochester Community Foundation; and, of course, the student participants and their families. Positive comments were shared by Dr. Moss, Dan and Jay Ross, who attended the Bee. Noted were the inspiring message and example shared by Mr. Miller, as well as a positive innovation by the fraternity this year in rotating more fraternity members through the tasks of interacting with the student spellers during the competition. More discussion will be had when Doug and Charlotte are able to join us at an upcoming meeting.
Dr. Moss shared a report from Lee Loomis for School #10. His group has received a book list that will be used to create videos reading the books that will be accessible online to students. This was determined to be the best use of virtual volunteers for the school at this point.
Dr. Moss and John Boutet shared observations from the School #16 CET meeting they attended. Specifically, Dr. Moss shared information gained regarding concern over the 5th grade cohort. These students were in the 3rd grade when the Pandemic hit and lost critical years of in-person learning.
Dr. Moss also shared her conversation with School 19’s Site Coordinator, Melody Bishop, about their wonderful Arts Program. Ms. Bishop shared that the plans to close School #29 and merge its programs with #19 appear to be on hold for now.
Future Agenda Items:
- It was recommended that we continue to invite School Board members to our meetings.
- The issue of parent support was raised by Dr. Moss. She expressed concerns that the District may not be offering support suited to the needs of the diversity of persons raising districts students (ie: grandparents, foster parents, or other family members) in addition to young mothers and fathers. She asked if the District collects data that shows who is raising and caring for our students. Dan shared knowledge of an RCSD parent survey that seeks input on parent opinions and attitudes, but not demographic data. He offered to reach out to community contacts, including Children's Agenda, to see if more data is available. Ms. Briggs shared that school parent liaisons (primary) and home school assistants (secondary) are closely involved with those who are "parenting" our students and can be approached for more information about this group. She offered to ask about available information at her next meeting with those staff. The intent of this inquiry is to assure that District efforts in support of student caregivers is appropriate to real needs and not based on stereotypical assumptions about District parents and guardians.
- While the Committee's efforts to support the tutoring program spearheaded by Lee at #10 is progressing, it was discussed that asking teachers to provide more direction and input for virtual tutors was proving burdensome due to their already heavy workload. As an alternative for tutors working 1-1 with students on teacher directed activities, the creation of reading videos is being developed and is proceeding, but additional possibilities for tutoring are sought.
- Ms. Briggs shared information about the work of her office to build community partnerships in support of the students in our District. Ricky Frazier is working to train and support community volunteers to work with students. The Build Strong Community task force is working to raise student and parent voices in the work of the District. So far, the primary need/want students identified for themselves was individualized supportive listening by volunteer adults and mentoring. Concern was expressed over how slow the volunteer placement can be.
- In support of our committee's goal to further develop tutoring activities, Ms. Briggs shared that School #3 developed a virtual tutoring program under the coordination of their (then) site coordinator which did not rely on teacher effort for ongoing direction of tutors. Rather, the site coordinator supervised an online tutoring site that could be accessed as needed. Ms. Briggs offered to contact that staff person for more information that could be shared with our committee on practical steps to replicate such a program in our schools. She further offered that, with just a list of appropriate topics from teachers, tutors could develop game activities in support of test preparation and skill development. Incentives for goal accomplishment are always welcomed by students as well, (ie: certificates for reading a certain number of books, metals, ice cream socials, gift certificates, etc.) as have been used in reading programs.
- Additional areas of work for her office include partnering with businesses to support the work of the District and development of activities during longer school breaks.
- Additional topic for further study might be exploring needs of now 5th graders as a group of concern due to pandemic impact.
This topic was tabled until next meeting due to time. Phyllis and John attended a meeting convened by Citizen Action of New York to help initiate another effort to support parents in the District. More will be shared about that plan at our next meeting.
Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3rd at 7:00pm.
Results regarding parent/guardian demographic data from Dan and Ms. Briggs
Contact former site coordinator at Alice Holloway Young (#3) school via Ms. Briggs for tutoring program tips
Submitted by Sarah Yaworsky and Phyllis Moss