Deanna works at Vista Middle School in Ferndale, where she is a member of the Student Support Team. As a Communities In Schools Site Coordinator, she meets with a caseload of students on a regular basis, individually mentoring them and connecting with their families to make sure they have what they need to be successful in school. This fall, the team at Vista asked Deanna to connect with a student who was disengaged from school. Because of the spread of COVID19 and resulting school closure, students were attending school online, but this student hadn’t participated in distance learning since the start of the school year. So, Deanna reached out to the family via phone to let them know that the Vista community really missed seeing their student in the online classroom.

In their first “check in” she learned that this student had school-aged siblings who were also trying to participate in distance learning from home, while Mom worked during the day. Deanna learned that the family’s kitchen table was the only place for all three of the students to work from, which had become a barrier to participate in distance learning, specifically for the middle schooler. Deanna knew exactly how to help. She contacted the Bellingham ReStore, and was able to find a reasonably priced used desk that was just the right size. She fixed needed repairs, cleaned it up, and delivered it to the family the next day. The student was excited to decorate it and make it her own. She was proud of her workspace!

There can be many barriers to participation and engagement, when it comes to distance learning or traditional in-person school. For this student, establishing a dedicated space to log in to the online environment every day was step one. Working with Deanna as her mentor, they created a plan for her to re-engage with school, and since then she has had nearly perfect attendance. Deanna has been providing her with social-emotional learning opportunities, and academic support, as well as brokering resources to help support the entire family as they navigate this new normal.