Now — as a new school year begins — Chalkbeat Newark and New York are gathering an expert panel, including Kevin Dahill-Fuchel, Executive Director of Counseling In Schools, and Principal Dyanand Sugrim, Heritage High School, to help answer: What should change about the way schools approach mental health, given the last year?...

At the end of December, Counseling In Schools (CIS) and A-Tech High School, a vocational training and Community School in Brooklyn, hosted a Holiday Food and Coat Drive for students and their families, staffed by teachers, administrators and other school volunteers. The event came together after a school-wide survey confirmed families were more in need of winter essentials than ever this holiday season, due to the effects of Covid-19. Though A-Tech usually procures donated coats from a local agency, this year Akua Aboagye, Counseling In Schools’ Student Wellness Coordinator at A-Tech, was informed that the organization had run out of adult winter coats due to the pandemic. A-Tech's A-Tech Cares program helps connect students with basic needs. Aboagye took it upon herself to organize a coat drive for the school community, receiving more than 50 donations from Operation Warm, a local non-profit, and Michelle Matland of MSM Design Studio, a New York City costume designer for TV and film including HBO’s Succession and TBS’s The Last OG, starring Tracy Morgan.  Students' physical needs need to be met before they can find hope and healing, and as a Community School dedicated to ensuring that children are physically, emotionally, and socially prepared to learn, A-Tech and CIS always make it a priority to help their community access essential, basic resources. Holiday "gift bags" filled with food and paper goods sit lined up on a table before families and students arrive to collect them. A-Tech had a number of turkeys donated locally to distribute to families for their winter holiday meals. ...

Over the past few weeks, we have collectively witnessed the painful realities of structural racism with the continuing murders of Black and Brown Americans. However, as Counseling In Schools (CIS) and our staff know well, structural inequities in communities of color have existed long before these moments of protest. ...

With spring break around the corner and summer close in its trail, Counseling in Schools is reflecting on our community successes. With the promising results of the Rand report as our motivator, we’re taking our time to review how far our SMART Goals have brought us.  Today’s spotlight is on The Bronx Mathematics Preparatory School, where our counselors have been making significant strides since our partnership began in 2015. Key takeaways:  During the 2016-2017 school year, the school saw an 7.5% increase in reading proficiency in our young scholars, and a 4% increase in math proficiency.During the 2017-2018 school year, math proficiency increased another 5%, and reading .5%. During the 2018-2019 school year our students achieved a 4% increase in reading proficiency and an 8.5% increase in math proficiency.Overall from 2015 to the 2019-2020 school year, Bronx Math has seen a 12% increase in school-wide reading proficiency, and a 17.5% increase in school-wide math proficiency.  During the 2020-2021 school year, we will continue to work towards our goals of 100% graduation rates, increased attendance, increased family and community engagement, and thriving communities. As we’ve seen in Bronx Math, our continued efforts to address the systemic issues that interfere with our scholars’ ability to engage with their education have proven successful over the past years. We are eager to create sustainable change that supports our scholars as they create the future for us all. ...

It has been 5 years since NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s pledge to create more than 100 new fully developed Community Schools. This transformative push has ushered in a massive reimagination of what it means to receive an education in NYC, what systemic obstacles are posed to students, and how the education of a child depends on the strengths of the community which surrounds them. Drawing upon principles of holistic health and care, Community Schools have become centers of opportunity in neighborhoods; places where families, with whatever challenges they bring, can receive the support they need to make sure students can come to school ready and able to learn. The newest release of The Rand Corporation’s Impact study provides concrete evidence which attributes the increase in graduation rates and student achievement as well as reducing chronic absenteeism and disciplinary incidents to the Community School model.  As an organization with 33 years of experience developing anti-racist, anti-oppressive practices; implementing strength-based counseling programs for children and families; building strong relationships with community leaders; partnering with school administrators to improve outcomes; and providing a range of professional development services, Counseling in Schools is a proud contributor to the success of the Community School model.  The Rand report infers that when schools address inequities in areas such as access to health care, affordable and healthy food, learning opportunities, and trustworthy relationships, students succeed. Counseling in Schools has experienced the impact of these changes firsthand. Our dedicated staff has been instrumental in addressing: attendance improvement/dropout prevention, violence prevention, burnout prevention for staff, school transformation, crisis response, out-of-school time youth development, social/emotional literacy, socio-cultural trauma and oppression. During our tenure at Brooklyn Collegiate we’ve been successful in increasing graduation rates from 64% in 2014 to 95% in 2018. At The Bronx Math Preparatory Middle School, we reduced the number...