How We Did It
All our work boiled down to three things.
- Recruiting and deploying volunteers
- Connecting families and schools to each other for greater attendance and engagement in learning
- Solving problems as they arose by matching community resource agencies with families who had needs
Your community may need different things, so the following list is intended to get you thinking.
We deployed our volunteers to:
- Clean classrooms and closets at the beginning of the school year to help teachers get their classrooms organized
- Assist with moving old equipment, desks, bookcases, mobile laptop charger cabinets, and broken furniture
- Deliver school supplies to families who were unable to come to the school building for pickup
- Help find “missing” students in the summer months
- Make weekly attendance calls to remind children to login or come to school—and identify and report barriers that were hindering school attendance
- Visit remote-learning teachers to see what assistance they needed
- Pair with Patrick Henry staff to conduct porch visits with families and troubleshoot technology issues
- Call Patrick Henry families to remind them of in-person requirements for Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing
- Provided a stipend and food to families who attended iPad training
- Provided one-on-one Microsoft Teams training for teachers
- Provided hotspots to families without internet access
- Provided school supplies including headphones and iPad stands, pencil sharpeners, books, and other supplies, for students learning at home
- Surveyed and parents and staff to assess challenges and concerns with virtual learning, so families’ needs could be met
- Sent text messages every Sunday evening to all families, reminding them of the importance of attendance
- Recruited two local supermarkets to provide $10 gift cards for perfect weekly attendance
- Hosted a Zoom call every two weeks for parents to build relationships and lay the groundwork to develop their first-ever school parent-teacher organization
- Trained, vetted, and partnered with community volunteers and the school reading specialist to start a virtual Buddy Program for volunteers to read books with students twice a week
- Started a Parent Resource Room, where parents could bond, meet with teachers, and find materials and information on how to support their children
- Produced flyers and enrollment information for parents to encourage summer school and summer camp enrollment
- Engaged the non-profit LaunchCode to develop an iPad manual for parents, and to train them so they could support their kids
- After teachers heard ‘chirping’ in the background, we reached out to the St. Louis Fire Department, which replaced dead batteries in existing smoke detectors and installed new smoke detectors in 25 households that did not have them
- Invited the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to visit every classroom to talk to kids and answer their questions about gun violence
- Urban Strategies, Inc. (USI) assessed the needs of 35 households who lived in USI-subsidized housing and we provided them with school supplies, food, connection to medical care, diapers, utility assistance, and hotspots.
- The L.I.F.E. Foundation supported the development of a home library of 4-6 books and activities for three virtual classrooms.
- Worked with a local store to provide and deliver desks to 43 students who did not have a dedicated workspace in their homes
- Collected rugs to make it more comfortable for teachers and students to gather in classrooms and read together
Throughout the pandemic, we did whatever it took to connect the school and its families to the community, to improve school attendance, and to facilitate learning.
Special thanks to the following people who helped make this project and playbook possible:
- Lisa Dorner, PhD – Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia
- Kelly Harris, PhD – Instructor of Occupational Therapy and Surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine
- Patrick S. Moreton, PhD – Professor of Practice in Strategy and Management at Washington University in St. Louis
- Barbara Brooks – Flamingo Strategies, LLC
- Chip Meyer – Caliber Communications, LLC
- Karen Handelman – 501creative, inc.
- All the members of the original BHAG* group – we couldn't have done it without you: Jackie Levin (chair), Chris Bay, Ben Beinfeld, Saras Chung, Dr. Lisa Dorner, Dave Hilliard, Tom Hoerr, Adam Hotaling, Michael Jones, Dennis Lower, Matt Philpott, Dr. Gary Ritter, Dr. Kevin Stokes – *Big Hairy Audacious Goal of helping Patrick Henry through the pandemic
- Our wonderful volunteers