On Wednesday, November 13th, City Year’s Senior Vice President of Strategy & Operations Jeff Jablow shared City Year’s approach to working with students at the Askwith Forum “School Reform from the Outside In” at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The event was designed to be a conversation between representatives of community groups and national organizations who are partnering with public schools.

He was joined by panelists, Dan Challener, President, Public Education Foundation, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Tiffany Cooper Gueye, Chief Executive Officer, Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL), and Wendy Puriefoy, Director of Education, Barr Foundation and former president of the Public Education Network.

Jablow reflected on the research that was released seven years ago about the drop out crisis in public schools.  City Year came to understand the unique value that a team of highly trained, diverse City Year corps members could have in high poverty urban schools, “so we built our Whole School, Whole Child model, that deploys corps member in teams to work in partnership with districts and with schools to deploy targeted interventions and support, to address academics and mentor students.”

Dan Challener’s organization works very closely with the school district to improve the graduation rate within Hamilton Public Schools and “increase student achievement in a small community”.

“Because we are so close to the district we are very focused on figuring the metrics [of success] before we start,” he said. “Some of the metrics are walking around, going to the schools, talking to the teacher and knowing kids.”

Tiffany Cooper Gueye and Wendy Puriefoy’s organizations both provide extra resources and support to school districts that do not have enough resources for their students.

“Schools alone are not enough. There is not enough time for kids during the day or throughout the year in school alone,” said Cooper Gueye of BELL, which runs summer programs for disadvantaged youth. “Kids actually excel when they have a broad range of supports in school and the good things that go along outside of school.”

Although each of the panelists had a different view of how to help students succeed, everyone agreed that young people can be part of the solution.

“As a young person today, you have to ask yourself, “Do I want to be in the business of helping to changing my own life and then others’ lives?” and then go where the work takes you, whether that is on the inside [of schools] or outside [of schools].” Said Puriefoy of the Barr Foundation, which is committed to enhancing the quality of life for all of Boston’s citizens.

“You then have to ask yourself, ‘have I changed anything or been a part of that change?’ It isn’t about the metrics, it is your spirit, the way you think, the way you breathe – you have to make that choice.”

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