As a result of these new ways to engage — and what Croaker calls the ability to become their own advocates — all 25 students passed the eighth grade. It was such a success that Mansfeld has decided to permanently add these communication methods to its resource toolbox. “We will continue having a way for students to reach out without needing to meet face-to-face,” says Croaker. “It is the start to building a relationship in a less intimidating way.”
Dean Lent agrees that the Verizon-provided technology was a great benefit and stresses that there was another reason why it worked: “The effort shown by these students, along with their patience, put them in a place to develop habits that will allow them to be more successful in life.”
Cooking up new ideas
As the Verizon Innovative Learning coach at Davis Middle School in Compton, California, Jose Gonzalez has close ties with the school’s parents — they ride to STEM competitions together and have been known to leave him plates of food in the office. So Gonzalez immediately recognized the additional stress parents were under when their children’s education moved home. “I thought, ‘There’s got to be a way for my parents to get a chance to express themselves,’” says Gonzalez.
His solution depended on two things: modern technology provided by Verizon and age-old tradition. “Cooking is a universal language. Everyone has to eat,” says Gonzalez. “And when people invite you into their home to share food, there’s great bonding.”
So he created the “Parent Virtual Cooking Show.” In the first live streamed episode, he tapped his Cuban roots and made picadillo. “I figured let me model this first, then I challenged my parents to cook,” says Gonzalez.