ETAC Region Community of Practice Updates—September, 2020

To actively address the NYS Education Department’s Guidelines for Re-Opening and implement requisite assistance to help schools develop procedures for collecting and reporting daily student attendance and engagement, beginning October 22, 2020, the Eastern Technical Assistance Center (ETAC) will host a “Chronic Absence Virtual Meeting Community Series” on Zoom with the National Center for Community Schools (NCCS).  

As each consecutive session builds upon the previous session, participants are asked to please register for all four session dates.

Learning Goals:

  • Explore measures of engagement and practices to improve engagement in distance learning
  • Learn about promising local and national practices based on remote, blended, and in-person learning
  • Learn to design and adapt solutions that meet the needs of your context
  • Receive tools and learn how to use them in your school setting


Wonderful things happening in community schools:
Community School Massena CSD Puts Families First

(Photos by Jason Hunter)

Just last year in 2019, Massena CSD formed a grassroots Massena Central Rapid-Response Team to address any emergency requests or needs. Initially made up of 40 individuals representing various community and business organizations, the Response Team’s email list has grown to 92 representatives, including members of nonprofits, faith-based organizations, libraries and local police departments. With the advent of the coronavirus, because it is an established Community School District, Massena CSD was able to seamlessly pivot and provide necessary assistance to its children and families including PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and deliver food to families in need.

From an anonymous donor delivering free pizzas to families, to Massena’s teachers stepping up and connecting with their students, Kristin Colarusso-Martin, Massena Community Schools Director is inspired by the overwhelming generosity of the Massena community. Colarusso-Martin shared that this summer, when faced with possibly cancelling home visits at the start of the school year, Massena’s teachers didn’t hesitate. Understanding the beginning of the school year is critical—particularly for children in transition grades—the teachers identified that this might be the only chance they’d have to see their students in person. Working together, administrators, teachers and school staff made sure to connect in-person with their students and parents.

Colarusso-Martin lauds Massena’s teachers as “amazing!” Some teachers took their camp chairs and met with parents and children in the families’ driveways; one school set up a tent in front of the school to meet with parents; another school held meetings in a public park and included fun activities. Plus, students were also able to receive requisite school supplies. Colarusso-Martin related that having these events helped to continue a sense of normalcy and, given the current circumstances, was emotionally and mentally good for everyone. Family engagement and forward-thinking: that’s what Community Schools are all about!

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