What does a community school coordinator do when school’s out for the summer? Plenty. Just ask Annie Weber, CSC at Guilford Elementary/Middle School and one of the newest Strong City staff members.
Annie began her job on June 4, and she’s been learning that although the school year is now over, a community school coordinator’s work never is. CSCs function as a school’s connective tissue: helping families locate resources ranging from food assistance to social services; nurturing school/community partnerships; and promoting parent engagement with the school. Many of those things continue to happen right through the summer months.
On a recent day, for example, Annie went to a coordinating meeting for the York Road Partnership, community associations, and the Loyola Center for Community Service and Justice. Then she worked on recruiting students for the BELL Summer Learning program. She was also working on end-
of-year reporting for the Family League of Baltimore (which helps fund her position), as well as getting ready for a school-supply drive.
“I’ve been going to a lot of meetings,” Annie says, ticking off some of them: Family League, 21st Century Schools Program, Bmore for Healthy Babies. “I do a little bit of everything.”
A Baltimore County native, Annie has landed back in the Baltimore area after an adventurous several years, including three separate stays in Uganda: as a junior at Gettysburg College studying post-conflict transformation; the summer after graduation after winning grants to run a girls’ health program; and before starting graduate school in social work at the University of Maryland, on a fellowship with the nonprofit Bicycles Against Poverty.
Annie was a social work intern at Guilford this past year, working with former Community School Coordinator Lauren Linn, which she says “definitely helped my transition” to taking over the position. She focused on “macro” social work at UM – program development, management, policy advocacy – and enjoys the community schools job because it combines administrative responsibilities and hands-on work with families.
One special issue at Guilford is that the school is slated to close. Starting in 2021, students from Guilford and Walter P. Carter Elementary/Middle are scheduled to begin attending a newly built school under the 21st Century Schools program (a $1 billion school construction plan for Baltimore City that Strong City was heavily involved in advocating for through the Baltimore Education Coalition). The closing plan is leading enrollment at Guilford to drop, and making family engagement more challenging.
When she does have a little down time, Annie works on getting her room together and thinking about one of the biggest tasks awaiting her: Guilford’s biannual community needs assessment, which will translate into an action plan featuring six goals that will guide her work for the upcoming academic year.
“I’m trying to get organized, because I know I won’t have time during the school year,” she says with a smile.