James Britt is a 12th grade student at George Washington High School. His mom, Kim, is the the school’s climate support staff (SCS).
While James is busy going about his days as a student, Kim is busy meeting with families and students. She shows parents how to track their children’s grades through the online parent portal. She speaks to parents about their challenges. She even schedules parent and educator conferences. She also distributes clothing and food from the school’s clothing closet and food pantry.
“We want to be a community hub, and a warm and welcoming place, and Kim brings that in her role,” said the school’s community school coordinator Louie Ackelsberg.
Kim’s passion for helping other parents stems from her own experience as a parent. “I’ve always worked as a lunchroom aide and in after-school programs. I’ve always been with one of my children. I like to be involved in the schools where my children are,” she said.
Kim’s older son Brendan graduated from George Washington High School in 2002. James attended a virtual charter school until 11th grade, but wanted the full social experience of being in a classroom before heading off to college.
“He’s getting an education, and that has to be attributed to the teachers he has who are all very supportive,” said Kim. “His art teacher brought out an artistic side I didn’t know he had, and his film teacher has brought out his love for film. His grades are up too, even though that’s not why he came here.” James is still deciding what path he’ll take after graduation, and Kim is glad he’s exploring so many passions along the way at George Washington High School.
Things have changed at the school, she said, since her first son graduated. “There is a lot more offered to the parents, there’s tons here for them.” She said that many of the new resources for students and parents come from George Washington High School now being a Community School.
As a parent herself, Kim said, “I’m in love with the FACT classes. I’m taking cooking, grant writing, and a tax class for immigrant populations, so I’ll be more educated about our parents’ experiences.”
Kim loves connecting other parents and students to those same services.
When temperatures dropped earlier this year, she was pleased to see students browsing the clothing closet. “We also had one student who took a uniform, coat, and earmuffs. Students can browse anytime, but we made announcements because of yesterday’s weather, and told them to come look to take sweaters or hoodies. I wanted them to make it home warm.”
“Kim has been a tireless parent partner and advocate for George Washington High School since the first day our paths crossed,” said Connie Grier, Assistant Principal. “She has a unique style of communication that disarms young people and make them aware instantaneously that she has their best interest at heart.”
Kim said she’s available to meet with George Washington High School parents whenever the school is open. The clothing closet and food pantry are available to students during the day. Interested parents should ask for Kim when signing in at the school.
“A lot of kids survive high school by finding their clique,” said Kim. “But if we can change that into finding your community – that’s the goal. As a Community School we can strengthen the family unit, we can help each other out, something like a Community School can be a win-win because it can strengthen a family, allowing all students and families to thrive.”