Community Partner Highlight
CARES Team End-of-Year Interview with Janel Sharpe, Assistant Principal at Kimberley Park Elementary
Interview by Victoria Latham
Can you describe what the CARES team is and who is on the team?
Formed in responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures, the CARES Team is a school based committee that supports students and families to gain access to remote learning, increase student engagement, and support student needs with resources. The team was comprised of school administrators, social workers, guidance counselors, parent involvement coordinators and Vistas.
What were the main goals of the Cares team this year?
Our main goal was to promote student attendance and engagement and to provide resources for families that may be impacted by the pandemic and school closures.
What challenges and successes did students face this year that were affected by the presence of the Cares team at your school?
Many families needed access to childcare and/or support with remote learning. The team worked to connect families with remote learning centers, hot spots, replacement devices, etc. One major issue was students who did not engage in remote learning and/or who were difficult to locate. Social workers made home visits and used every available resource and method to make contact with families to reduce absences and promote engagement.
What events were held this year that the Cares team helped put together?
The most notable events this year were an outdoor open house for families, and a holiday toy sale that raised over $5,000 for our school. The Vista also supported the school’s efforts in creating a fundraiser to build a $200,000 school playground.
Did the presence of the Forsyth Promise Vistas aid the work of the Cares team and if so, how?
Our Vista did the majority of the legwork in pulling together events. She made contacts with other community partners and helped with the coordination of efforts.
How can the community help further support your work?
It is important for the community to remain engaged with schools. It is always helpful to advocate for universal Pre-K and affordable childcare and help by providing employment and learning opportunities for teens and young adults.
What advice do you have for families preparing for school to start back next year?
Learning should never stop. Parents are a child’s first teacher… read to your child, or let them read to you, get outside, enjoy one another. Teach your children to value education!