The Wraparound program at Robinson G. Jones School (R.G. Jones) began as a pilot program in 2013 with a three-year commitment between the United Way and is now funded again by the United Way for a 4th year, the entire 2016-2017 school year!
R.G. Jones School was designated by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) in 2013 as one of 13 “Investment Schools” which made it eligible for resources through a collaborative partnership between the United Way and CMSD to provide key supports where most needed. The school then partnered with Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation (BPDC) as a “lead agency” to hire a site coordinator whose has the job of aligning community partnerships and resources to support the school goals for academics, social emotional learning, attendance and parent engagement.
In August 2013 Melissa Watts became the new principal of R.G. Jones and Mary Jo Cotner was hired in February 2014 as the Wraparound Site Coordinator to provide this coordination of resources. Cotner worked to form relationships with faculty and community members, conduct surveys, and one of the first efforts she led was to work with parent leadership to meet with CEO Eric Gordon to change the start and dismissal time of the school day. That enabled the creation of “The EDGE” which provided for an average of 180 students, K-8, to stay for extended day activities such as: homework help, African dance, Girls Craft Club, Cub Scouts, Children’s Book Club, Lego Club, Gardening Club and America SCORES soccer, poetry and community service, yoga and swimming at Gunning Rec Center.
BPDC helped connect the school to the 21st Century Learning Grant which brought resources to 6-8th graders for academic enrichment and extra-curricular programming, including a summer program which provided college and career field trips to places such as the Marriott Hotel, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cleveland City Hall, The Ohio State University Agricultural Training Institute and the College of Wooster.
With the presence of a site coordinator it was possible to organize fun family events such as Author’s Night with popular children’s author, Eric Litwin, which brought about 300 students and families to enjoy a night of reading, music and inspiration.
One of the most well attended programs has been “Bring Your Grown-Up to School Day” where parents and family members are invited to a full day of musical performances and opportunities to meet their child’s teacher, hear relevant information about the school, and learn about community resources. Other services organized by Cotner include identifying students who need appropriate cold weather clothing and then Coats for Kids, delivered 160 coats to R.G. Jones.
Cotner has also established partnership with assets in the community such as Fairview Hospital, which has been a sponsor of such programs like Dancing Classrooms for fifth graders. This 10-week program culminates in a performance for the younger grades the dancer’s parents that features five ballroom dance styles, all while fostering respect, teamwork, confidence, politeness and a sense of joy and accomplishment. Through a connection with Fairmount Temple students are receiving tutoring support.
To promote financial literacy, Junior Achievement provided entrepreneurship lessons for all grades through volunteers from KeyBank who spend the day in classrooms using interactive lesson plans to share information about their jobs while helping students understand more about the opportunities available to them in the workplace.
This year, the school redirected its focus to support in-school programming to reach more students such as “The Leader in Me” instead of after-school options.
Because the state has changed its tests three times since the Wraparound program began in 2013, it is difficult to compare any Ohio school with year to year results.
- One goal for R.G. Jones in 2015-2016 was to increase reading proficiency by 6.2 % from the year before. It was actually raised by 28.9 % for a school-wide reading proficiency of 45.9%.
- There was a 31% increase in math proficiency in 2015-2016 from the year before for a school-wide math proficiency of 43.25%.
- In terms of attendance ,the goal was to decrease chronic absenteeism (missing 10 or more days in a year) from 224 students. The actual chronically-absent was last year was 152 students last year, which far exceeded the goal of 199.
To improve attendance there have been a variety of strategies, including an attendance committee that meets weekly to plan random good attendance rewards and regularly scheduled monthly good attendance activities.
R.G. Jones has implemented Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS) to give further incentives for on-time attendance like: ice cream day, homework passes, and winter dances. During Teacher Based Team (TBT) meetings, teams and Ms. Cotner identify chronic and severely-absent students and plan personal phone calls and home visits.