We asked sites currently implementing Check & Connect (C&C) to tell us about how they stay connected with their C&C mentees over the summer, if they do (some schools implement C&C as a 9-month intervention). We heard back from several sites representing different approaches to “connecting” over the summer, from informal to detailed and systematic. We hope these give you some ideas for keeping Check & Connect going over the summer!
Maria Maki, the C&C Coordinator at Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, wrote the following in an e-mail to us:
- A few ways I connect over the summer with students is FOOD! I take the students out to eat. It’s a good way to relax and chat.
- Another way I communicate to students over the summer is by text message. This is a way for them to discuss what’s going on, without the feelings of judgment.
- Some parents I call and stop by with donuts (again food?).
- Taking walks on nice days is another way to connect with students over the summer.
- It would be nice to tour some close by colleges.
- Or I’m thinking cheap fun activities like mini golfing or bowling this summer? Students open up more when they are having fun.
Pennsylvania Counseling Services, which runs Check & Connect in schools in York County and Lancaster County, PA, reflected on summer activities they’ve done in the past and what they plan to do this year. They generated this list in a phone conversation with our trainer Eileen Klemm.
Past C&C summer activities:
- trips to nearby college and community college campuses (one mentor and one student or one mentor and several students)
- home visits
- meeting with students at the school (PCS staff have access to school buildings over the summer)
Future/planned C&C summer activities:
- help students get involved in community activities: church activities, youth theater, community volunteer opportunities, etc.
- encourage students to attend back-to-school events in August
- attend students’ athletic events to show support and build the relationship
- take time to talk about the future, including potential careers
- coordinate a career day; bring in professionals to talk to mentees about occupations of interest to them
San Diego Unified School District, the site of a Check & Connect efficacy study, created a document of summer guidelines, including detailed instructions and recommendations for mentors. Here’s a summary:
- Mentors should communicate their summer schedules to students, parents, and school staff, including their contact information and dates they will be off.
- Mentors should create a record of each student’s summer plans.
- Do they need to be in summer school?
- Will they be out of town over the summer? If so, when will they return?
- Mentors should connect with C&C students over the summer. How often and how (e.g., in person, electronically) depends on students’ summer plans (summer school, charter school or alternative education program, neither, out of town) and whether the student was receiving basic or intensive interventions at the end of the school year. This connecting will be similar to that which took place during the school year, but without the data component (except for students in summer school)
- For students who will not be in summer school and who will be in town, mentors should help them identify things to do (such as those recommended in our Preparing for Summer: Part I blog post).
- Mentors should help the student set goals and problem-solve for the coming school year
- Before the new school year starts, mentors should meet with students and their parents for a general check-in, including:
- updating student and parent contact information,
- determining which school the student will attend in the fall,
- working with students to set goals for the new school year,
- addressing student or parent concerns about C&C or returning to school,
- reviewing areas of student improvement and exploring ways to better support the student in the new school year, and
- determining the supports needed by the student and identifying strategies for obtaining them.
- Mentors should review the new C&C Manual, continue to learn about resources available to their students in the community, and review district policies and procedures.
Have you done any of these with your Check & Connect students over the summer? How did they work? What else do you recommend for keeping “connected” with your C&C mentees during the summer months? Let us know in the comments section below.
About the Author: Chris Opsal is a project coordinator at the Institute on Community Integration, contributor to the Attend-Engage-Invest blog, and member of the Check & Connect team.
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