Arnerich Massena’s I AM Learning Partnership is wishing you all health and safety during this challenging time we are all experiencing. Although the program does not have the ability to help our students in person right now, we are working hard to create meaningful touchpoints and assist in providing for critical needs at this time.
Since the initiation of home quarantine two weeks ago, we have been focused on assisting 12 vulnerable families from Irvington School, who were identified through working with the administration there. A primary need for these families is nutrition as many of these students typically receive breakfast and lunch at school every day. This weekly delivery of proteins, grains, breads, fruits, and vegetables will help supplement their family food needs.
In addition to food assistance, we are adding reading and math curriculum, based on each individual student’s skill level in these families. Hands-on supplemental academic skill builders are being supplied, many in the form of games, to help productively fill extra time. These games and curriculum support independent work without assistance of an adult, in many families where English is a second language!
Our weekly deliveries also include craft supplies and projects for some fun activities. The ability to do something creative is so fundamental to a child’s development and engagement. This week, along with markers and paint sets, we delivered little unfinished wooden wind chimes to put together and decorate. Creating and building are important form of self-expression, as well as important vehicles to process feelings, try new ideas, and learn problem-solving skills.
Literacy is a primary focus of every I AM Learning Partnership program. In the coming weeks, I AM Learning Partnership coordinators Kate DeGraw and Elly Kendig will be joining other Portland Public School educators in offering our students online reading support. We will follow OED and PPS guidelines and use the mandated video conferencing platforms, staying within the authorized limits for online instruction. Due to online instruction time constraints, our literacy efforts will also be centered on the weekly deliveries of hands-on learning curriculum to the students in our programs.
A primary components of these weekly deliveries are books. Used books we have at home, from friends, from neighbors, and any new books we can procure will be included in our weekly deliveries. With public libraries currently closed, bringing books and reading materials into these homes is essential.
We are deeply thankful to A Children’s Place Bookstore on NE Fremont Street. Although their store is closed to the public, they are taking orders via phone with curbside pick-up available in their parking lot. A Children’s Place offered the I AM Learning Partnership a generous discount based on our mission. For those interested in assisting our efforts and supporting a local children’s bookstore please contact Kate or Elly directly for instructions.
Dental health is another area that often is overlooked when a household’s finances are tight. Thanks to an employee connection to a dental practice, BLING Dental donated a large quantity of toothbrushes and toothpaste for inclusion in our deliveries. It has been so heartening when a need arises and the response is immediate and overwhelmingly generous. Finally, these weekly deliveries are a way to communicate with some of the most vulnerable families in our community around their specific needs. We are including information to access free meals as well as other essential services. For a number of families, we have picked up technology devices from PPS for use at home. The Irvington School counselor is also adding information about mental health services and online resources for health and well-being. Our reading specialist at Irvington School will also be adding her own reading curriculum and materials for the students to whom we deliver weekly.
As the weeks at home continue, it seems that the touchpoints the I AM Learning Partnership is creating with the families in our neighborhood are more and more essential. For us, it gives us a sense that we’re not alone in this awkward and difficult time.
We’d like to thank all of our clients, colleagues, and community members for all that you do and the hard work you put in every day. The I AM Learning Partnership appreciates your support, for it is what makes all of our programs meaningful and successful.
Kate DeGraw I AM Learning Partnership