HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – For many students, the classroom is their home away from home, which is why educators always try to make their classrooms feel like a community.
In Hartford, this is the district-wide goal, as all of their facilities are considered community schools.
These are places where the needs of students and families are considered, from academics to mental health.
Hartford schools try to be more than a place to learn science or learn to count. Over the years, students have entered classrooms and need more than a teacher’s help.
“When a student arrives hungry, they are not able to be at their best. Jelba St. Juste-Paul, director of the Village for families and children, tells us.
Educators have learned that students need help with food, money, or mental health.
The needs are endless, but in a community school, people like Jelba make it their mission to provide solutions.
“The school did everything itself. We had to solve all the problems. We had to meet the social and emotional needs of the students, a lot of mental health, do our best with the academics. We were trying to help families, so it was quite difficult, “said Kesha Ryan, director of the Fred Wish Museum.
Ryan says that all changed four years ago when the Village became a primary partner.
Now this organization helps the school access mental health services, tries to improve attendance and offers private lessons.
“We have food needs, we have families who need clothes.
The nearly forty community schools in the districts are distributed according to their level of need, from level one to level four.
“A ‘level one’ school has some supports. A ‘level two’ school has many supports, but we are expanding our level four and have a full service community school with a lead agency like the Village,” Nuchette Blackburke , head of household and community partners at Hartford Public Schools, said.
Nuchette says this new school year will bring four more schools to this next level and become a full service, a total of thirteen districts.
In addition to a lead agency, those with full services will even get clinicians in schools.
“We are able to provide caring, trained and professional adults who are able not only to care for this child and support the overall environment by connecting with this child, adjusting climate and cultural issues, but we are also able to help children get along with their peers, ”Aldwin Allen, Senior Director of Community Programs at the Village of Family and Children.
And as school starts up again in a pandemic, educators say that in addition to their annual areas for improvement, mental health will be a focal point.
“We do it through disguised learning. We try to offer activities that talk about “How do you feel?” “,” If you had to put all the feelings in a bucket, what would they be? “Identify what the child is going through and we can then have a side conversation with that child to help them with whatever they are going through,” added St. Juste-Paul.