Happy New Year! As we welcome students back “into” school this week please join me on a walk down memory lane to reflect on the past few months that kicked off the 2021 program year for Promise Corps. I want to keep this reflection on a happy note, but we must address the elephant in the room; COVID-19. Many of us had high hopes that this virtual start and this virtual space would’ve ended by now, but here we are. I am proud to say that we remained resilient and undefeated! 2020 turned out to very rough and challenging for many; some say a wake-up call. With the civil uprising and civil unrest, this year provided us with an opportunity to reflect on our societal values, beliefs, entitlements, and privileges. Many of us reflected and took a stand against inequalities, inequities, and injustices. We acknowledged the impact on many local communities of color, specifically black and brown individuals and families who continue to feel underprivileged, underrepresented, and oppressed.
Making the question of the year, what is your power, and how will you use it to identify what part of history will be made?
Our coaches have specifically stepped up since starting in August. Here are some highlights!
While preparing them to be outstanding College and Career Coaches, we ensured that orientation and professional development sessions were intentional and diverse. Many local leaders and professionals provided us with training in leadership, engagement, cultural competency, education reform, protective factors, active listening, and self-care. In addition, LGBTQ+ Competencies, team roles, presentations, Trauma-Informed Care, Vicarious Trauma, Civic reflection, and the goals and strategies of the MacArthur Foundation. All taught during a pandemic! I am sure that there were many aha moments. One of mine was when Brandon Brown came in to teach us about active listening and what that truly means. These sessions provide us with an opportunity to get to know one another better, from personalities to attitudes, beliefs, and perspectives; Showing us that even in a virtual space, we can still have a human connection.
Speaking of connections, let’s talk about the dedication demonstrated by our coaches in preparing to support and connect with our HS students! The hard work put in provided Promise Corps with the opportunity to support over 640 students. Giving up was not an option, countless emails were sent to educators and students and 100’s of calls were made to connect with families. Although it has been challenging, we have provided coaching support to many students and completing over 862 one on one coaching sessions. Additionally, becoming an essential resource and support to over 20 school leaders and educators, creating a strong presence at School of the Futures, West High School, Overbrook High School and Sayre High School.
Our coaches have grown so much in their team roles, from participating in the social media and engagement team to supporting the family engagement team. Many stepped up and took on a leadership opportunity in our newsletter committee and the community building committee. Furthermore, I liked to think we have mastered the art of being flexible and adaptable. We have done the best we can managing the many unprecedented challenges outside of our control. Through it all we have persevered and upheld our Promise Corps Values. I hope to keep that same energy this year, as we continue to connect with students and set them up for success.
Zoraida Cordero- Promise Corps Manager