By L'Oreal Payton
November 13, 2020
There’s no doubt COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we live, work and learn. Across the country, OneGoal Program Directors are rising to the occasion and working hard to support students in pursuing their greatest postsecondary aspirations. In this post, we discuss how Program Directors are supporting Fellows virtually and what’s giving them hope during these turbulent times.
Hirvelt Megie, Program Director at John Dewey High School in New York
“COVID has closely impacted many of my students. A lot of them have fallen sick. A lot of them have lost their loved ones. It’s something that has impacted our Dewey community at large. It has changed teaching completely as well. It really pushes us to communicate more, support each other more, and it just pushes us to be present.
Our students are going through a lot and we are that consistent face that they see. Lucky for us, our OneGoal family is very strong. We really pushed the idea of being a family from the beginning. They have owned up to each other, they are such a support system for each other, and have been nothing short of amazing. They really do go above and beyond for each other.
My advice for my students is to take one step at a time. We’re going to take small steps in order to reach and achieve our one goal, which is graduation. Once we make those small steps, achieving that bigger step gets a lot easier.”
Vanessa Lee, Program Director at Back of the Yards College Prep High School in Chicago
“COVID has caused so much uncertainty — our school community has had cases, and mental health issues are challenging for everyone. But I feel a lot of support from OneGoal. For example, Lina Fritz, a Chicago staff member, hopped on a call with a student who speaks Mandarin to help them navigate a class decision. We’re all banding together to get this done.
Fellows are supporting each other as well. If someone says, ‘my Internet connection’s no good,’ someone else will say, ‘Hey, my Internet connection’s strong, send me the doc and I’ll help you with what you’re working on.’
Being a OneGoal Program Director has changed my entire career, and I am forever grateful. I feel so fulfilled by my work in a way that I never felt as an English teacher. I have found my calling. There is so much more for me to learn and so many things I can improve about my practice, but I feel motivated to grow. I hope that my students know how deeply I care about them and how invested I am in their success. I hope that I get better at this every year.”
Inais E. Humphrey, Program Director at Maynard Jackson High School in Metro Atlanta
“The most rewarding part of being a Program Director is getting to know my Fellows on an individual basis. I get an opportunity to share compelling and provocative lessons with them that spark a great deal of introspection. Essentially, I get an opportunity to help my Fellows utilize and refine a skill set that will serve them far beyond any institution’s classroom of learning. Anytime I can assist learners with becoming informed and highly reflective decision-makers, I get excited because I know they have a world of endless possibilities ahead of them.
COVID-19 has impacted some students directly by limiting their attendance in class. Some of the students do not have reliable internet and some of the students do not have fully functioning laptops or desktop computers. Not all students are forthcoming when they need help with overcoming these obstacles; however, our school has resources to readily share with students who are in need. Once I become aware that a student is having technology or connectivity issues, I immediately get involved to secure a speedy resolution to their situation.
My faith in God, my family and friends, as well as my school community are all a great source of inspiration and fuel to keep thriving during such a time as this. They’re all part of my motivation to find the silver lining in every difficult moment that surfaces and to be forever grateful for laughter, for love, for time spent and for creating treasured memories to reflect upon when this season is long gone.”
Monica Caldwell, Program Director at George Washington Carver High School for Applied Technology, Engineering and the Art in Houston
“The most rewarding part about being a Program Director is that I have the pleasure and distinct opportunity to ensure that all students have equal access to college and beyond. I serve in a community where students may not always have access to important resources necessary for them to plan for their future. I am the bridge for that divide. I especially admire that as the Program Director, I get to spend at least three years with them.
This allows me time to watch their growth from one year to the next. I also enjoy seeing the Fellows’ faces as they share their acceptance letters with me after getting accepted into the college of their dreams; and awarded the scholarships that they have earned. OneGoal has a family atmosphere here at my campus. We help and support one another regularly. The support that I have been given from the OneGoal leadership team makes my work effortless. I can’t imagine not being a part of the OneGoal program. It has truly been a blessing in my life: ‘Building Brighter Futures’ together.
Building relationships virtually during the pandemic has been the greatest challenge. I like to teach face-to-face. The other thing is we are not able to take field trips now, so I am not able to promise them that experience of visiting college campuses. The students always look forward to that. I just want to keep giving them hope.”
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