In March, Southern Anti-Racism Network reached out to build relationships with additional community partners to address the COVID-19 pandemic impact on the Strong Parental Involvement in Community Education (SPICE) program. Housing Authority of Columbus agreed to identify families with children between the ages of seven years old and ten years old for survey outreach to their parents. We conducted surveys at E.J. Knight and Wilson Homes in anticipation that we would be able to use computer labs in Housing Authority communities for SPICE classes given the library computer lab was closed. Unfortunately, the Housing Authority has not opened up its offices out of an abundance of caution in this spike of coronavirus community spread in Columbus.
Columbus Public Library has proven essential in our efforts to give support to parents in this new situation of using technology for teaching and learning. Alan Harkness offered the resource of the Bookmobile. We conducted two summer events on July 25 at South Columbus United Methodist Church and on August 15 at Wilson Homes.
Parents participating on July 25 were Petra Gertjegerdes with daughter Bailey Myricks at Rigdon Road; Angela Tripp with son Derrick Simmos at Dorothy Height; and Mary Naik with daughter Mariah Naik at Dorothy Height. Jennifer LeDenney, SPICE Coordinator, provided one-on-one instruction in setting up Chromebooks for students and their parents. Three Chromebooks were distributed on July 25.
Parents participating on August 15 at Wilson Homes had the benefit of completing verification week so most parents in attendance had picked up Chromebooks for their children who are students at Fox, Brewer and Downtown elementary schools. We asked parents who expressed interest in helping their neighbors to become parent/organizers. One parent, Lakeisha Ross, received a Chromebook for Co’Marion Ross, student at Fox Elementary. Susana Ortiz, parent of a student at Brewer agreed to be a parent/organizer. Serita Duffie, parent of students at Dorothy Height and Wilson Home resident agreed to be a parent/organizer. Isnaida Russell, parent of student at Fox Elementary and resident of Wilson Homes agreed to be a parent/organizer. Julie Boylan, parent of student at Downtown Elementary also agreed to be a parent/organizer. Five Chromebooks were distributed on August 15.
Jennifer LeDenney made sure all parents receiving Chromebooks were properly set up with Zoom and other applications that might be useful. Thanks to Bookmobile drivers Dan and Dorsey we had electricity and WI-FI to complete the set up. Serita Duffie, parent organizer, has agreed to survey additional parents at Wilson Homes for participation in SPICE. We look forward to building deeper community relationships in Housing Authority communities to close the achievement gap.