Hey y’all, for those of y’all of that don’t know the HEART program, we are a collection of 8 CECs (counseling enriched classrooms) ranging from Elementary to High School across Hayward Unified School District. HEART stands for Hayward Empowering Advocacy and Radical Transformation, and one of the programs that especially embodies these values is our newest addition, the Ochoa Middle School CEC. The Ochoa CEC opened this school year and the team is comprised of Haddie Smith (classroom therapist), Milele Hare (clinical intern), Brisia Calderon Flores (MHC), Rosi Barboza (MHC), and Alexine Luna (MHC). We recently interviewed them to find out how this brand new team became so dope:
Blog Post Written By: Jesse Wiltey, Assistant Director of School Partnerships
A connection and sense of togetherness has been a foundation and central to human experiences since….our existence! For many of us, our sense of purpose comes from the feeling that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves or that there is something that we give not only to individuals around us but to the collective. This belonging and life contribution enables us to develop a stronger sense of personal and collective identity. I am not talking about volunteering, more so I am speaking to Service-Learning.
I hope I am not making assumptions here, but I feel many of us came into this field wanting to support young people through their some of their most influential years of development. Why not engage them in Service-Learning? At its foundation, Service-Learning enables one to develop critical reflection, deepen sense of understanding on complex causes of social dilemmas, and enhance collaboration.
How to get started:
Let’s start off by brainstorming. Take some time to think about your communities and what is needed. Is there an area that needs a new paint job? An area that needs some cleaning (spring is around the corner)? Are there shelters in need of supplies, money that needs to be raised, food that needs to be distributed? Once we have the idea, how can we engage our clients and colleagues and what we as a unit can offer. I am consistently humbled by the skills, knowledge, and passion of the young people that we are with and am a firm believe that the possibilities are endless. As a general sense of some ideas:
Giving Tree – Food Drive, Shoe Drive, Blanket Drive (Student’s place items under the Christmas Tree and items are donated to the cause of choice)
Shoebox for Soldiers – One box is placed in each classroom to fill up for soldiers.
Community Clean-Up – Do what needs to be done in a community area to clean it up.
Crafts for the Elderly – Create a craft for a nursing home.
Letters – Create letters or cards for patients in the hospital, soldiers, police officers, etc.
Blankets – Create simple tie blankets for a homeless shelter or animal shelter
Teaching – Older kids can teach younger kids about an important topic
Perform – Have students put on a play or music concert in the community
Re-live History – Interview and write reports about the history of your neighborhood
Clinicians, therapist, counselors….I encourage you to bring these ideas into your sessions and work with youth. Parents, caregivers, aunts, uncles, bring these practices inside your homes and families. Let’s develop community together!
Blog post written by: Daniel Perez, Director of School Partnerships
Happy March! Most of us educators are finishing off one of the seemingly longest months of the school year and are on the verge of spring break. In Elena Agular’s book Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, she encourages us to tap into play and creativity during the month of March, “When we are creative, we are resourceful, and we problem-solve in new and original ways, which fuels our courage.” School breaks can be a great time to explore play and imagination so we can integrate this joy and flexibility into our work lives.
I am reminded of creativity as I reflect on Seneca’s second year partnership with Nystrom Elementary School, a TK-6th grade school located on the southside of Richmond. Our Unconditional Education Coach, Kelsey Corrales has worked intentionally to create a culture of joy and celebration where community members are welcomed and invited back on campus, to develop a space for student leadership, and to bring the school community together through monthly assemblies.
At the end of last school year, the Nystrom Culture and Climate Committee (C3) teamed up to dig into several data sources and identify culture and climate goals for the following school year. In many public schools the C3 teams are limited to meeting once a month. Kelsey tapped into her creativity to develop targeted teams that could push the work for individual goals. In addition to the C3 team meeting once a month, the family engagement team also meets once a month. This has allowed the Family Engagement team to dive deep into getting information from families on the type of events and classes they would like to have on campus. So far the team has planned a winter festival and monthly coffee chats that have supported in educating families. They have brought in speakers from adult ed to talk about English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship classes and provided a Triple P Positive Parenting Training on cultivating resilience in children.
Creativity and imagination has not been limited to the Family Engagement team. This November, the halls of Nystrom were abuzz as students ran for a spot on the student council. Each class watched a campaign video of the students running and then voted on ballets with the students' photo accompanying names. On the same day that some adults were taking ballots to the polls, students were taking their ballots down to Ms. Corrales office and proudly displaying their “I voted” stickers. The student council is enjoying fundraising on campus. They also supported the winter festival and starred as newscasters in the Positive Behavior Intervention & Support expectation video reteach. Outside of the student council, other student leaders have gotten to have their voice heard through participation in biweekly student announcements and teaming up with the Risk Resilience Research Lab at University of Berkeley to be ambassadors for a video game that is aimed at building skills to reduce aggression.
I recently had the pleasure of joining a professional development that Kelsey had prepared in collaboration with the Occupational Therapist and Psychologist to support teachers in developing calming places in the classroom. As I walked out the door, a teacher turned to another staff member and said, “that was so much fun!” Kelsey has worked hard as an Unconditional Education Coach to get important systems up and running while at the same time tapping into the joy and creativity of the staff, students and the community. As educators take time away from their sites this upcoming spring break, I encourage you to tap into your creative side and think about what parts of that you might want to carry with you into everyday life.
Blog post written by: Jenna Evans, Assistant Director of School Partnerships
School Program Partnerships
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