Rallying community resources and school spirit
Principle 9. Community stakeholders and community-based organizations provide programming for students during or outside of the school day.
Principle 10. Student experiences — in and out of the remote classroom — build school community and culture.
Principal Ian Sherman would pop into virtual classrooms and see students trying to concentrate as their sibling sat next to them eating lunch, or a parent hastily cleared the dining table around them. Sometimes during a lesson, a student would pack up all of their school materials only to hunker down in a different part of their home.
Lincoln High School in Yonkers mostly serves students from low-income households, and many students don’t have a space at home where they can focus on remote classes.
“We really wanted to provide them a space where they could set up a workstation and make it their own and not have to worry about being interrupted,” said Sherman.
So earlier in the fall semester Sherman and his team put out a call for desk donations across the school’s social media platforms and on Facebook Marketplace. Dozens of Yonkers residents gave desks to the school.
A number of teachers made themselves available to pick up the workstations which were promptly fixed up by the school’s woodshop teacher, and put in students’ homes.
“We’re all trying different ways to help and do what we can,” Sherman said.
In addition to ensuring remote students have the resources they need to learn from home, Sherman has focused in on upping morale among students and staff.
When the pandemic initially shut down schools there was a communal sense of positivity that the health crisis would soon be over. A few weeks tops, Sherman anticipated.
“It’s like… here we are in December, and we’re still doing what we were doing in March,” Sherman said. “It definitely has taken a toll on individuals and it’s tough.”
Sherman started a social media campaign with the hashtag #LincolnHoliday and over the last month dozens of people posted pictures repping Lincoln purple and white, wearing holiday hats and sweaters. One chemistry teacher added an Elf on a Shelf, or in actuality an Elf on a molecular structure, to her classroom décor.
The hashtag was all in an effort to bring some joy back to the school — and it’s working.
“I’m seeing smiles, which is nice,” Sherman said.
Ian Sherman is the principal at Lincoln High School in Yonkers.