As told to Mary-Chapin Snow
For those that are unfamiliar, what is the Martindale-Brightwood Education Zone?
I describe the Zone as a collection of resources. It’s kind of like a club. Families who live in the 46218 zip code are able to access all the resources and programs we have to offer. Oftentimes, families know about one of our programs but once they join they learn about everything else that we offer. For instance, we offer rental assistance, access to a food pantry, social services, community events, and connections to mental health counselors. Our children’s programs traditionally include before and after care at schools and focus on character building. In addition to KIPP Indy, there are currently 9 other schools participating in the Zone and we have over 100 families who engage with the Zone on a consistent basis.
Tell us about yourself and your role at the MBEZ. What is your connection to the Martindale-Brightwood community?
I grew up in the Martindale-Brightwood community and my son currently attends KIPP Indy Unite Elementary. Currently, I serve as the Youth Program Coordinator. I run the daily operations for our before or after care programs. Right now, I’m coordinating the Community Learning Site. In my job, I work to ensure our programs consistently meet the needs of our students and families and are in alignment with the state’s requirements.
Tell us about the Community Learning Site and the impact it’s had on students.
The Community Learning Site at KIPP Indy has the capacity to serve 60 kids. Students receive support from teachers with E-Learning, have breakfast, lunch, and snack. In the afternoons, they engage in enrichment programming. Each classroom is staffed by one member of the EMCC team and one KIPP Indy teacher.
The students who are attending the Community Learning Site are ones that school leaders identified as struggling during E-Learning. Having the learning site uniquely motivates them to get their school work done and being in the school setting helps them concentrate and focus.
Can you share a success story from the Community Learning Hubs so far?
During one of my walkthroughs, I walked in the upper elementary classroom and this one boy flagged me down. It was his first day and he was so excited to show me his work. He clicked through every assignment and showed me his perfect scores. He was so proud of himself.
How can communities foster strong partnerships between community organizations and schools?
Our partnership with KIPP Indy is very strong. We always joke in our meetings that it is like sitting down for a family gathering. Our collaboration includes discussions about resources our students and families still need. For example, one next step that came out of one of our meetings was securing Crown Mentoring with Pastor Reynolds as one of our enrichment programs at the Community Learning Site. He does an excellent job with building up our older students’ leadership skills and confidence.
I believe consistency is key. While many programs come to schools and offer wonderful services, they can’t be impactful if they don’t follow through for a long period of time. One thing I want families to know about the Zone is that we are group of people who genuinely want our community to grow and thrive. We want families to feel successful and to know that there is someone out there to help them.