When you think of school-based staff, teachers and administrators most likely come to mind, but many others also ensure students have the supports and programs they need. In the Vancouver School District, a dedicated team of community school coordinators works to have essentials like food and after-school programs in place. While these supports are developed with vulnerable students in mind, no student is turned away.
Scott Deyell is in his fourth year as a community school coordinator, and lists several tasks of any given day. “We might be working with a community partner to put together opportunities for vulnerable students, or we might be working with administrators to identify students who could use some extra support outside of the classroom, whether it be community resources, or access to community programs,” he says. “We could be facilitating training for staff or volunteers helping youth either be more job ready or more prepared to function in programs like cooking, science or literacy classes. We could actually be facilitating sessions if staff are unable to attend -- or if it’s just something we have a passion about,” he explains.
No two days are the same, but Deyell shares how they usually unfold in a general sense. He is based at Gladstone Secondary, and is the community school coordinator for the high school as well as the family of six elementary schools nearby. The morning is generally a quieter part of the day for him, and he often corresponds with community partners and staff within schools during that time.This can mean working on memorandums of understanding, or another aspect of a partnership. Partners include the Vancouver Park Board, Science World, and the YWCA. Deyell also helps students with transitions between grades, particularly those who have just begun high school. Planning activities and opportunities for those students is also a major part of his morning agenda.
Break and lunch times were generally quite busy for Deyell before the pandemic, as this was when students may stop by to talk or grab a snack. Without designated lunchtimes for secondary students during the pandemic, Deyell says some of the students at Gladstone Secondary will still stop by for a quick “hello” during their flex block. “That’s kind of the nice thing about not being a teacher, not a counsellor, not an administrator. We’re that other adult in the school that they can just kind of come and talk to and get everything off their chest, which has helped us develop really great relationships with a lot of different students,” he says. Those relationships help in addressing students’ needs – which he calls a rewarding part of the position.
Deyell usually prepares after-school programs during afternoons. This includes gathering materials, prepping staff, ensuring registration is complete, and checking First Aid kit supplies.
Before the pandemic, he stayed for the various programs that ran after school, like literacy programs, sports, science, and homework clubs. “The programs that we offer are really focused on what the community interest is and where the passion of the youth is as well. One of the things we really try to focus on when we’re developing our programs is identifying what the youth are passionate about and what assets they bring to the table and then allowing them to have that opportunity to share that with other people,” he says. Right now, there are no in-person programs running, but some community partners are running programs virtually.
Thanks in part to his hard work and that of the twelve other community school coordinators in the District, there are opportunities beyond the classroom to help students succeed. Deyell says connecting with students – and witnessing that success – are the best parts of the job.
More information on Community School Teams