There is no better demonstration of commitment to the values of civic engagement, service learning and leadership than community partnerships that work with schools. Through local partnerships, the Southwark School provides academic enrichment, a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career technical education (CTE) program and opportunities for families and children.
“All of our partnerships support our initiatives of literacy, school climate and our goals of increasing our reading scores to reducing our suspensions,” said principal Andrew Lukov. “All of our partnerships are really aligned with our concept of that. There are great CTE programs in the city that get students college and career ready. We wanted to get our middle school students prepared for that now, so we have a new CTE program that is focused around STEM.
“We want our students college and career ready, but we also want to get our students high school ready,” he added. “We want them to understand that while they’re in middle school they need to think about the different high school choices. A big focus of ours is making sure our students pick the right high school for them and not the other way around.”
A K-8 school located at 1835 S. 9th St., Southwark is a community school that ensures its programs cater to the students, their families and the community. The first nine community schools were named over the summer followed by the hiring of nine coordinators.
“We’ve been involved in the needs assessment process,” said Southwark Community Schools Coordinator Beth Daugherty. “We’ve talked to people in the community, parents, service providers, students and teachers. We’ve also done surveys and focus groups. We are currently working on developing the initial strategic plan for each school. We love that there is a CTE program here and we really support it as a way to help students identify great high school programs for them to be in.
“The more experience you get in a CTE program as a middle school student, the more aware [you] will be of what [your] high school options are,” she added. “We are a neighborhood hub that provides programs and services, not only to their students, but also to their families and members of the community.”
Southwark has a partnership with Bok. The former vocational school, which is located right across the street from Southwark, is now a building that is filled with small businesses, nonprofits, small-batch manufacturers and more.
“Since the beginning, it has always been a part of our plan to partner with Southwark,” said outreach coordinator of Scout/BOK Lily Goodspeed. “They are a neighborhood school that does great things for families and kids in the neighborhood. We recently donated uniforms for the middle school. We held a Super Moon stargazing party on the roof in collaboration with STEM teacher Ms. Janene [Palumbo Hasan].
“The partnership is also a great way to show the students the range of different jobs that exist, not only in the world, but right across the street,” she added. “I actually used to be an AmeriCorp member at Southwark, so we feel very strongly about the school. We’re pretty excited that this community school model can give us more opportunities to engage with students, families and offer support however it’s needed.”
Southwark’s new CTE program is led by STEM and middle school CTE specialist Janene Palumbo Hasan. Palumbo Hasan writes her own curriculum for the program, which is based on the Next Generation Science Standard, a program that creates K–12 science standards through a collaborative state-led process.
“Each grade has a different essential question to answer,” Palumbo Hasan said. “We have a big question that we study all year and then we have a small question for each quarter. Sometimes we do science or math lessons. Other times we do coding, technology or engineering. Usually, if I’m teaching a science concept, it’s applied to engineering in some way. I want my students to understand that there are a ton of careers out there that are STEM based. That is the next generation of careers for all people in the United States.”
Eighth-graders also receive a lesson in business by operating the school store. Through the store, students learn finance, inventory, logistics, marketing, sales, research and loss prevention.
“We do everything in the school store,” said eighth-grader Janiyah Slaughter. “We decide on the products to sell, what price we are going to sell it, where people should stand and how to make sure people aren’t stealing anything. I like running the raffle tickets and helping the little kids decide what they should get.”
Eighth-grader Jon Salvatore is in charge of the money at the store.
“I deal a lot with financing,” Salvatore said. “I’m the only person who is allowed to keep a record of the money. I set up the registers and give change if needed. We keep inventory and we also have an accounting book. The money that we make in the store goes toward our trips and it also goes to the community because it goes toward our gardens.”
Junior Toan Vong of Southern High School also helps the students out with running the store.
“I wanted to be a part of this for the experience,” Vong said. “I thought it would be fun to help out and to tell the students about the CTE programs at Southern. Everything that I learned at my school, so far, I’m trying to pass down to the Southwark students.”