Blog Post #8: When Children Succeed is a project of the Social Innovation Fund
Home and School Connect
Extra resources foster closer relationships between students, teachers, parents
A pilot program to put additional resources in the schools that need them most is resulting in closer connections in the school – and beyond.
“The extra teachers have enabled such an intimacy in the classroom,” says Theresa Rogers, chair of the Parent School Support Committee at St. John the Baptist/King Edward School.
And record turnout at a recent Parents as Partners event at the school leads her to believe the effects are rippling beyond the classroom and into the children’s homes, as well.
“With the extra faculty, they’re able to add that extra bit of TLC to each child,” she says. That care can foster trust with caregivers who may have been wary of the school or the education system in the past.
Many partners pulling together
The extra resources are part of When Children Succeed, a demonstration project that’s seen 21 additional K-2 teachers and a speech language pathologist allotted to seven priority Saint John schools to mitigate against poverty as a learning barrier.
The project is a partnership between ASD-South school district, the provincial Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Living Saint John and Saint John’s Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative (BCAPI). It is receiving funding from the Social Innovation Fund, a five-year, $10-million provincial investment in creative ways of combating generational poverty in Saint John.
Schools choose what's best
St. John the Baptist/King Edward used its extra three teachers to create smaller classrooms. Instead of maxed-out and split classes, this year its eight K-2 classes each have no more than 12 students.
“The smaller class sizes and extra attention means that a student’s particular needs or challenges can be addressed,” Theresa says. “It’s an amazing way to look at these little people under the microscope of how can we make their day better?”
The South-End school is also piloting a program this year to extend the school day by an hour.
“It was a perfect storm,” she says. “They’re reaping the benefits. It’s all rolling into one pile of success.”
'In the heart of generational poverty'
Theresa has a deep understanding of the needs of students at the school, which she herself attended as a girl.
“I was a single mother for 12 years. I’ve lived in poverty,” she says. “We’re homeowners in South End. We’re right in the heart of generational poverty.”
While the school is already a model of early learning, with a number of initiatives, including breakfast and winter clothing programs, to help students living in poverty, the additional classroom resources are making a difference.
“I think the benefit of it is already obvious,” Theresa says.
The teachers are excited by overall academic and behavior gains, she says. And the closer relationships that seem to be forming between the school, students and families are just as important.
“I think that has been the big bumper-crop bonus,” Theresa says.
Theresa Rogers is chair of the Parent School Support Committee at St. John the Baptist/King Edward, one of seven schools benefitting from additional classroom resources.