We all thought 2020 was going to be our year – and then COVID-19 happened. We went from traveling the world, launching our businesses, celebrating big milestones, and making big moves to social distancing, self-quarantining, and face masks. If you didn’t work at an essential business, you probably found yourself at home – and your kids were right there with you, because the schools closed, too.
This is a sponsored post for Communities in Schools, however, all opinions are mine alone.
While many kids couldn’t wait to get back into the classroom to see their teachers and friends, others couldn’t be happier to stay at home. Some were excited at first, then devastated to learn what stay-at-home actually meant – no proms, no graduations, no end-of-year celebrations. Regardless of how your kids or teens feel about the current situation, one thing is clearer now more than ever – school plays a critical role in some of the most important years of our lives.
The main reason we send our kids to school is, of course, so they can learn – but school gives them so much more than history and math lessons. Through school, our kids learn how to socialize and make friends – and, just as importantly, learn to deal with those who aren’t their friends. For many, it’s where they’re first exposed to different sports, musical instruments, and other pursuits that could become lifelong hobbies or even careers.
And for some, school offers even more. For some struggling families, school may be the only reliable source of food they’ve got. When connected with the right resources, school can become a student’s lifeline to the things they and their families need – clothes, shelter, and other forms of assistance, including programs that can provide much-needed support for learning disabilities, bullying, and more.
One organization that’s doing great work to support in-need students is Communities In Schools. Their coordinators work in 2,500 schools across 25 states and the District of Columbia to help kids stay in schools. I think their mission statement says it best – they’re working to “surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.” And they’re doing some pretty incredible work to support our most vulnerable students.
Within schools across the country, Communities In Schools staff work closely with teachers to identify students who could use some extra support. Once they’ve found a student who could benefit from their services, they get to know them, becoming a trusted resource to help them overcome barriers inside and outside the classroom.
For some students, they’re there to connect them with food, clothing, and shelter. Other students may need support addressing an untreated medical condition or learning disability. From emotional trauma and homelessness to an inability to buy basic school supplies, Communities In Schools is ready to help these students overcome these challenges and ultimately succeed in life.
Now, COVID-19 has definitely made it a bit more complicated for Communities In Schools to achieve its mission. But they have not wavered in their commitment to serving their students, and they’ve gotten creative when it comes to providing vulnerable students with the resources they need to thrive academically, physically, and mentally from a distance.
Here are just a few of the ways Communities In Schools has worked to keep kids on track during COVID-19:
- In Washington, Communities In Schools staff have been focused on keeping students connected with their support systems. They’ve established a pen pal program to keep mentors and students in touch, and they’re facilitating peer support groups for students who are struggling to cope.
- In Virginia, the organization is supporting parents. Communities In Schools is working with families whose parents have lost jobs due to COVID-19 to ensure they have critical resources – hygiene supplies, diapers for their little ones, disinfectants, etc.
- Across the country, high school seniors are graduating without usual typical celebration or fanfare, which can be pretty disappointing. Determined to make sure these seniors got the recognition they deserve, Communities In Schools has planned virtual grad parties for students to celebrate, mailing presents and cards to recent grads, and sharing their stories through their website. These students have so much to celebrate – and so much more to achieve!
Communities In Schools is truly working to make a difference in students’ lives, before and during the COVID-19 crisis. I’m glad to know that organizations like this are out there supporting our children and setting them up for a better future, and I’m excited to see how I can support them in the future. To learn more, visit CommunitiesInSchools.org.