Posts About Innovations in Education

Community Advocacy for Racial Trauma Training

Keith Arnold
By Keith Arnold

Terry Alves-Hunter is a Cape Cod local, mother to one, and dedicated community advocate for racial trauma training in the Falmouth Public School system. 

After adopting her son from foster care, Terry enrolled him in the Massachusetts public schools. Within this school system, her son was racially attacked, harassed, and marginalized. Years later, in the Falmouth Public Schools, the racial discrimination continued. She took it upon herself to meet with the administration, and explain that bullying and racial discrimination are separate issues, and this presence of racial prejudice needed to be addressed. She saw the problem of racial trauma in the school system, and got to work to make a difference. 

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Nieisha Deed - Vital Village Innovation Award

Keith Arnold
By Keith Arnold

In December of 2022, Nieisha Deed was awarded the Vital Village Innovation Award for her pioneering work for black mental health in Boston and unfaltering drive to improve the community’s well being.

Nieisha Deed is a Boston native, educated at Howard University, with over fifteen years of experience as a corporate accounting professional. Due to her personal and familial struggles with mental health, including living with bipolar disorder and surviving a suicide attempt in 2017, Nieisha decided a change was due. She redirected her skills and drive to helping black Bostonians with their mental health and wellbeing. In September of 2021, born out of her passion to help others, Nieisha launched PureSpark.

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Children's Librarians: Community Champions for Children’s Mental Health Storytimes

Camelia Garrick, AmeriCorps VISTA Community Mobilization Coordinator and Desiree Hartman, Senior Program Coordinator
By Camelia Garrick, AmeriCorps VISTA Community Mobilization Coordinator and Desiree Hartman, Senior Program Coordinator

Being a librarian these days goes beyond wandering among stocked books and beyond the library walls. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Children's Librarians across Boston Public Library neighborhood branches have dedicated their time and efforts to creating an outlet for children and families to come together for book readings, songs and activities focused on Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) with Children's Mental Health Storytimes

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A Journey of Growth and Compassion: Conrad Robinson

Camila Beiner
By Camila Beiner

Creating a Village

 A blog series profiling the work of community leaders across the country working to address the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice in their local communities. The series amplifies diverse leadership and the impact on communities, partnerships and members.

 Since becoming involved with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), Conrad Robinson has made it his mission to prioritize and recognize the needs of every family with which he works. “It's about being vulnerable, transparent, but also having compassion and understanding where people are coming from and supporting them through their journey,” Robinson describes his role at DCF as an Area Resource Coordinator where he works alongside supervisors, social workers, and managers to correctly identify the best placement for children at DCF. His department supports young adults between the ages of 18 to 22 who are transitioning from DCF to independent living. They also work with members of the local communities and families to keep children safe from abuse and neglect. Robinson, a long-time community leader with Vital Village Networks (VVN), eventually became a social worker and began to develop and implement plans for young adults who need direct social services, such as housing and mental health services. On top of his busy day job, Robinson also is the program director and lead faculty for the Certificate in Community Advocacy and Leadership program, a partnership between VVN and Urban College of Boston.

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Asking mental health to take a backseat during the coronavirus pandemic is a dangerous proposition

Julia Slayne
By Julia Slayne

Understanding and limiting the spread of coronavirus has consumed our focus over the past few months. Physical distancing, child care and school closures, the persistence of masks, hand washing, have been essential steps to help protect each of us from the virus. However, this physical distancing has consequences that we need to talk about: isolation, loneliness, boredom, monotony, stress, anxiety, and fear. Mental health often takes a backseat when physical health is at risk. Health is both physical and mental, and when we prioritize the physical, it is at the expense of our mental wellbeing. Quarantine may yield so many negative mental health consequences, it is dangerous to overlook how it is impacting our mental wellbeing.

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What Teachers Aren't Learning

Jeffrey Cipriani
By Jeffrey Cipriani

Jeffrey Cipriani is a 2nd grade teacher at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Boston Public Schools. He is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow. He has worked with Vital Village Network and the Child Witness to Violence Project on Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms.

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The Raising of America: Improving Student Outcomes from Outside the Classroom

Genevieve Guyol
By Genevieve Guyol

Genevieve Guyol was a Teach for America member in Chicago in 2013, where she taught first and second-grade special education. She is currently a third-year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine. Read her blog, featured on the Teach for America website, to learn more about how her experience in the classroom has shaped her interests in medical school and desire to create interdisciplinary partnerships with medical providers, teachers and schools in order to affect change on a much broader, systemic scale.

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Neighborhood Safety and Child Wellbeing

Libby McClure, MS Candidate, Vital Village Emerging Leader
By Libby McClure, MS Candidate, Vital Village Emerging Leader

We are working to leverage existing data systems to establish benchmarks for assessing the well-being of children and indicators of risk and protective factors.  Our goal is to improve the quality of data and tools that allow community residents and community institutions to promote family and community safety. We hope these benchmarks and shared data system will be a catalyst for community engagement and accountability.

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