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CISE grateful to many for rewriting the “Now”

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by Cynthia Kenney

For 40 years, Catholic Inner-city Schools Education (CISE) has been rewriting the futures of thousands of Cincinnati inner-city children. This year, all of us embrace this season of gratitude with extra gusto.

Our small but mighty team, directed by Mabe Rodriquez, hit the ground running in March exploring how to provide for our students. How could we bring the classroom to their homes? What expert protocols would arm our teachers? Where and how would students receive weekend food?

Diligent principals and teachers, big-hearted donors, inventive partners and the grace of God have helped us provide technology, food and assistance for 2,300 students at our 10 CISE schools. We are incredibly appreciative for the many who have helped make back-to-school a little more like back-to-normal.

WORKING AS ONE, GRATITUDE TO MANY

COVID-19 presented a challenge none of us have experienced. Necessity being the mother of invention, new and renewed partnerships kicked into gear as our teams came together to address limitations and thrive in virtual settings. Connectivity to one another, to learning and to healthy coping and growing was key.

Technology was the first hurdle to overcome. In prior years, Chromebook tablets remained at school. Overnight they became the in-home link to learning. Getting tablets into the hands of every student continues to be vital. In response, Accelerated Grade School (AGS), provided funding for new Chromebooks.

The number of households lacking internet tested the team. Thanks to past campaign chair, Ted Torbeck, funding from Cincinnati Business Community (CBC) and Cincinnati Bell, internet service is being provided to 100 CISE scholars so they are prepared for virtual learning.

INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIPS

Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) shared valuable time working with us to plan for a variety of “what ifs.” Thanks to Laura Mitchell, superintendent for CPS, ideas for virtual and in-class teaching were vetted. The best minds joined forces to solidify processes for both the worst and best scenarios.

Teaching remotely and being equipped to answer parents’ questions required extra training for our teachers. Hamilton County Educational Service Center (HCESC) established inventive coaching, helping create a sense of empowerment and confidence.

GOOD HEALTH = BETTER LEARNING

Data shows that children can’t learn when they’re hungry. During the uncertainty of the summer months, healthy food was distributed to students, thanks to Suzy DeYoung’s dedicated team at La Soupe. They continue to provide a prepared meal for CISE students to take home, creating the opportunity for family time around the dinner table.

Jessica Grover from PSI provides invaluable service in the role of nurse coordinator for our 10 CISE school nurses. Beech Acres addresses mental health concerns of scholars and their families and provides referrals. United Way provided necessary personal protective supplies and equipment for our teachers and classrooms.

BLESSED DONORS

CISE donors have gone above and beyond during these times of great need. We continue to fund raise as the cost to support our schools has increased by nearly $500,000.

Our critically important partners are our own CISE school teachers, principals and staff. God bless them for being true heroes and providing a sense of normalcy through these uncertain times. They have provided not only excellence in education, but love, hope and safety to our CISE scholars.

We are grateful for the support given to our schools. Together we are rewriting the futures of 2,600 CISE scholars.

GOD BLESS YOU AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING

CISE serves 2,300 scholars at 10 inner-city Catholic grade schools and provides scholarship assistance for 300 students at designated Catholic high schools.

If you can help, contact Debbie Weitz at [email protected], or (513) 263-3471, or visit CISEKids.org.

This article appeared in the November edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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