News Updates

Refusing to Let Our Kids Be Left Behind

Published on November 11th, 2020 in Fair Share Housing Development

By Kaitlyn DeVeydt, Education and Recreation Coordinator

Students throughout the Ethel R. Lawrence Homes community have been struggling with technology and remote learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly every day, the staff at the Margaret Donnelly O’Connor Education Center deal with spotty WiFi connections, Chromebooks or phones dying, and the difficulties of using one platform to connect with multiple students. The Education Center has loaned out Chromebooks and chargers, offered a place for free printing and scanning, and held virtual workshops to help parents and students better navigate their Google Classrooms.

But despite everyone’s best efforts—including dedicated teachers who email and set aside time for extra Zoom calls, parents who are in constant communication with the Education Center staff, and students who show up to all their tutoring sessions—our children remain at risk of falling behind.

The story of 11-year-old Asir illustrates the challenges young people face today and what can be done to help.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Asir had been an excellent student. His teachers praised his focus, hard work, and insightful comments in class. But when Asir’s school shifted to remote learning, things changed for this 6th grader. He was often absent from class, had stopped completing assignments, and was even in danger of failing.

Working with Asir’s wonderful 6th grade teachers and his family, the staff at the Education Center investigated what was happening. It turns out this 11-year-old boy was struggling with the responsibility of keeping his own schedule alone at home, while his mom, an essential worker/CVS pharmacy supervisor, was at work. We set up a daily tutoring session, to help keep Asir on task, and soon his grades were back up to A’s and B’s.

“Homework club never let me give an excuse for missing work,” Asir says.

Kaitlyn DeVeydt, Asir’s primary tutor, praised her student’s grit and talent. “Asir has made a complete 180. He is bright, imaginative and an excellent writer.”

His teacher, Krista Wallace, said the Homework Club was integral to Asir’s success. “The Margaret Donnelly O’Connor Education Center does a fantastic job in reaching out to the schools to build a partnership to assist students with their daily studies. They have been an asset in helping Asir stay on track with assignments both in and out of school.”

Jasmine Craig, his mom, also expressed gratitude for the help. “Asir is amazing and very smart! He just needs that extra push sometimes. So thank you for being that extra push and keeping him on track. You took a load off my shoulders and I truly appreciate it.”

Asir is living proof not only of the challenges students are facing, but also of the resiliency and strength that come from having extra support like the Homework Club.

Without the help of his family (particularly his wonderful mother), his teachers at Hartford, and the staff at the Education Center, Asir would’ve been climbing an upward battle alone. But that’s the beauty of a place like Ethel R Lawrence Homes, even in the toughest of times, you are never truly alone. You have a community that’s cheering for you, that believes in you and wants you to succeed.

Chantel Young, Associate Director of Education and Social Services, said it best: “The pandemic has forced us all to completely re-evaluate and re-build, but that’s also when blessings come and the fun begins.”

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