The Children’s Aid Society: Supporting a Full-Service Learning Environment


>>Narrator: There is an
extraordinary community center in the heart of New York City. It offers a complete
range of medical services, from dental and medical checkups.>>To mental health counseling. There are adult education classes,
and computer training courses, a basketball program,
and a bicycle shop, a dance company, and
a string ensemble. Those are just a few of the
activities offered after school at IS 218, a public intermediate
school, designed from the beginning to meet the needs of
the entire community.>>Jane: When I first came to this
school, I noticed two things. I noticed that the
children seemed happy, and I noticed that there were
a lot of extra adults around. And I wanted to know
what was happening here, and how we could make it
happen in more places.>>Teacher: You want to
spell this one first?>>Narrator: IS 218 is open six days
a week from 7:00 in the morning to 9:00 at night, all year long. It’s the product of a partnership
between the New York City Board of Education and the Children’s
Aid Society, which pays for and administers the
extra-curricular programs.>>Teacher: So I think that’s
comforting for the parents to see what type of stuff we have.>>Jane: We have been doing this work in ten public schools
for about then years. Really joining forces with the
New York City Board of Education, and bringing into the
public schools all of the things that we know how to do. Which include before and after
school programs, summer camps, medical/dental/mental
health and social services.>>Dentist: Number 27, number 28.>>Scott: When you first
walk through the door, the first thing you’re going to
see is the Children’s Aid clinics, our medical clinic, our mental
health clinic, our parent room, our administrative offices. We’re right there. In many cases families will come
to us even before they even go to the principal’s office. Because we’ve developed
that kind of trust with the community and the parents.>>Dr. Hugh: [speaks Spanish]>>Dr. Hugh: There’s a little bit
of this flu bug going around again. And this child came in
and was checked by me.>>Dr. Hugh: [speaks Spanish]>>Dr. Hugh: And the mom came
in to talk about it with me, and the mom asked me,
she said, “Well, should I take him to a doctor?” And I said. “Well, I am the doctor, I
happen to be in the school.” And she was so happy to realize that
she now could go back home and know that her child was okay, and didn’t
have to make a whole separate visit, and wait a couple of
hours in emergency room, or their doctor takes
a long time, too. So our goal here really is to
provide comprehensive medical care to our students in the school.>>Woman: He was referred to
me after the plane crashed. The plane going to the
Dominican Republic.>>Scott: Right, it’s Flight 587.>>Woman: Yes, Flight 587.>>Narrator: The mental health team at IS 218 played a crucial role
during the World Trade Center tragedy, and the subsequent crash of
Flight 587, which claimed the lives of several area residents.>>Woman: So I contacted mom, and
she came in, and I took some more of the– psycho-social
history from mom.>>Narrator: But beyond
crisis counseling, the mental health team helps
students overcome their daily dreads.>>Scott: I heard on
the news last night, another airline crash
is going to happen here. “Am I going to be safe, or is my
mom and dad going to be safe?” That ability to have somebody
right there, you know the next day when you go to school that your
social worker will be there, and will make time to see you, I
think is very positive for the kids, and something that I
think they count on.>>Teacher: How do you
get along with them?>>Student: We argue and
everything, but it’s okay.>>Narrator: Other Children’s
Aid Society programs kick in after school, beginning
with a homework help sessions.>>Teacher: You have to
lower case all your letters.>>Narrator: Students participate in
a wide range of clubs and activities which augment core
curriculum subjects, and provide social enrichment. The school’s string ensemble
has achieved a remarkable level of musicianship in a short timeframe.>>Enrique: And I think that’s the
key to this program, the success. As you can tell, they play very well. Most of them– good– most of
them have been playing just under two years, two-and-a-half
years, but because there’s an everyday
instruction on these instruments, they progress at a much faster rate.>>Bianca: I remember when
they first started here. My son was in sixth grade, and that
was the first time we’ve had a music program in this school. And now, listening to
what they’re playing now, it is a gigantic difference. It is such an improvement. They’ve just grown as musicians. And a lot of them are
applying and looking into arts as one of their careers.>>Enrique: They’re held
accountable, as performers and as students in school. And they’re given a lot of
opportunities to shine like this. And they go for it.>>Jim: We call basketball the magnet
or the draw that brings the kids in. and then from there we get
them to do other things that are part of the program. We have career readiness,
and job preparation. We have family life and
sex ed for boys and girls. And then we also do some work
with them around self-development and setting goals and making sure that they continue
to do well in school.>>Narrator: In another after
school club, kids learn a bit about recycling and
mechanical engineering, and a lot about building
their own bicycle.>>Audrey: If they volunteer 18
hours at a time working in the shop like it’s their job,
then they can pick a bike and start to work on that bike. They work another six hours, and
they can take that bike home as long as it passes our safety exam. And so far this year, the kids
have earned 40 bicycles already, which is a record for a school year.>>Student: It’s kind of cool,
because we’re building our own bikes, and we got the opportunity
to experience everything. And mostly I come on Saturdays,
Fridays and Wednesdays. I like being here.>>Audrey: I try and get the
kids thinking mechanically, which is something that isn’t
exactly taught during the school day. So I try and get them to ask
questions about what is friction, how does ball bearings
reduce the friction. And so I always try and let them know that they can ask these questions
back in their science classrooms and their math classrooms.>>Teacher: One, two, three,
four, five, six, seven, eight.>>Narrator: Learning the
joy and discipline of dance, many students come to see
themselves in a new light.>>Frances: As far as body image,
it’s so important for young ladies and young men to look at
themselves in a positive way in this community,
especially, I think. And I think that once they accept
themselves, and they love themselves, anything is possible, and I think that self-esteem is
what builds them up.>>Teacher: And seven,
improvise your way out. Two, three, four, five, six, seven. And more, and one…>>Teacher: And so we take
the verb to be at the front.>>Narrator: In the evening,
classes in computer training and English are offered to parents.>>Regina: Through Children’s
Aid Society, we have a bridge to the parents in the community. Not only because of the services
they provide to their children, but to the parents themselves. GED courses, computer courses. Parents know that they can go into
any of those rooms downstairs, and they will be accepted,
they will be supported, and there’s always a helping hand.>>Narrator: When they come to share
the traditional art of flower-making, parents are exposed
to other services.>>Lidia: They come for
flower, but at the same time, I want them to have some
idea about something else, like victim services,
domestic violence, AIDS. And one of the things that I’m
planning is to bring some type of way that they start to feel relax. And it’s beautiful things
to teach our children.>>Principal: The next
thing is the planning for the extended day
program next year.>>Narrator: Integrating the education
curriculum with the social services and enrichment programs
requires a constant dialogue between the school’s principal
and the Children’s Aid Society.>>Rosa: There has to be
definitely an openness about the things that we both bring. There’s an understanding of
the principal’s experience as an educator; there’s an
understanding of my experience as social worker, and
how do the two combine. And that’s very important. That’s going to allow for our kids to
have a rounder, fuller understanding of their own life experiences.>>Teacher: No, you did good. That was good. The way you’re doing
it is okay, because…>>Jane: There have been some dramatic
gains in academic achievement in this school and in our
other community schools on the standardized tests
as well as on teachers, observations and on grades. The researchers were able to
document higher student attendance, and higher teacher attendance
at the Community Schools.>>Narrator: While there are
significant challenges involved in developing community schools,
the rewards seem worth the effort.>>Teacher: The needs are always
greater than the resources that we can bring to the
table, even collectively. But I think that we have found
that if you have the word, “Yes,” written in your heart, you can
make almost anything happen. And I think that we’re
living proof of that in our schools in New York City.>>Class: Hooray!>>Narrator: For more
information on what works in public education,
go to edutopia.org.

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