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Perspectives Charter Schools: How We Stayed Connected to Students and Families

Posted on: August 6, 2021

My name is Stephen Todd and I serve as a managing principal and senior director at Perspectives Charter Schools, a network of open-enrollment public schools that serves approximately 1600 students in grades 6-12. Perspectives’ teachers and staff have done important and impactful work to support our students during the past school year and reengage students and families for the upcoming school year.

I’d like to share the story of one of our 8th grade students.  This student stopped logging into class.  The school’s principal was concerned about the student and decided to see how she could support and conducted a home visit.  Imagine the student’s surprise in seeing her principal at the door!  The principal shared how much everyone missed seeing her in class, and the student began to cry.  She said remote learning was too hard; she had given up; she was too discouraged and defeated, too far behind.  The principal promised the student that she would do anything she could to help; she would log into class and assist and do whatever it took to help the student graduate.  This student, after this point, emailed her principal every single time she submitted an assignment.  She graduated with her class and was extremely happy she met her goals.

This is just one story of many of how the Perspectives community rallied around its students and families, in many ways, to provide support over the past school year.

Perspectives assigned each student a Navigator or mentor, to help them stay on track and adjust to the remote learning setting, and also provide vital social and emotional support.

Our social workers conducted over 1400 sessions with students to support mental health, safety, and engaged learning.

Our staff conducted over 400 home visits to support student engagement.

We distributed Chromebooks and hot spots to all families who need them to ensure equitable access to learning

We maintained frequent communication with newsletters and parent phone calls when students were missing from class

We offered a hybrid option to families starting in 2021, with supportive communication and contact for students who were struggling with remote learning, encouraging participation.

These efforts culminated in 96% of our seniors graduated across our network.

To reengage our students, we held a summer school that was attended by 330 students; we are offering summer programming including art, dance, and basketball; and starting in June, we made calls to each Perspectives family to reregister for the coming school year, with 80% of families already registered with three weeks to go before the start of school.

Perspectives staff right now are finalizing plans to accelerate learning, to support both student and staff social-emotional and mental health, and to welcome the Perspectives family together, in-person, in the safest way possible. We are excited to partner with our students, families, communities, staff, and the district and the CPS Board of Education to have a successful and engaging school year.