The quick halt to the 2019-2020 school year was extremely difficult. It was tough on teachers, school administrators, parents, but most of all, the students. Students everywhere were struggling in a remote learning environment filled with new challenges. Our area’s youngest students are facing serious devastation because they are not receiving the education that they need at a critical age. Our goal for the 20-21 school year was to pivot towards solutions that will impact all scholars for the greater good. This school year, we are very excited about the work we are doing to engage scholars and deliver our service without after school programs.

The coronavirus pandemic has introduced Coach Sam’s Scholars to new ideas and avenues in order to serve our scholars in unique ways. We had to redefine what we do by working hard and keeping up with the guidelines placed by our state government and school districts. This school year, we are very excited about the work we are doing to engage scholars and deliver our service without after school programs.

This fall, we launched our Coach Sam’s Scholars Homework Help. We opened two drop-in centers serving both the east and west side communities. Locations chosen were John F. Kennedy Recreation Center (Lee and Harvard) and St. Pauls Community Church (Ohio City). We understand the importance of family engagement throughout virtual learning. Here, our tutors can help parents, caregivers, and students through the struggles of online learning no matter what school district. Whether it be content, connectivity, organizational tools, or technical assistance, our tutors are giving scholars what they need to succeed academically while giving families the skills, they need to  best support them.  We are also offering a virtual call center for families to receive assistance through our website. Family engagement is vital to student academic success. This is a community need and we hope to continue this program regardless of students being in school or learning from home.

In response to the request from Superintendent Eric Gordon and CMSD’s call to action to community partners, Coach Sam’s has partnered with several organizations to form learning pods at Rainey Institute and Salvation Army Westpark. This in-person program operates Monday through Friday serving approximately 70 Cleveland Metropolitan School District Scholars. Here, our staff assists K-8 students with virtual learning for schools. Our staff provides technical support, content help, and keeps an organized schedule of all scholars to ensure that they are in the right classes during their assigned timeframes.  On Wednesdays, where there is no school, Coach Sam’s Scholars provides an adapted version of our after-school program, which includes literacy, personal development, and fitness lessons. Once our CMSD scholars return to school, we hope to resume our after-school programming; however, we will continue this program as long as scholars are expected to attend school remotely.

Finally, we are in the process of launching a virtual program with the Cleveland Public Library that will serve scholars within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District four days a week throughout the school day. Scholars chosen for this program have been identified by their school as having academic challenges. Tutors will provide supplemental support in addition to traditional Coach Sam’s Scholars programming which includes literacy, personal development, and fitness activities. The goal of this program is to provide scholars with more opportunities to improve their reading and writing, while also supporting their health and social-emotional needs. This program will remain virtual until the district returns to full time face to face learning. It is then our hope to open in several Cleveland Public Library branches throughout the city of cleveland during after school hours.

In this unprecedented time, Coach Sam’s has adapted and worked hard to continue our mission, hopeful that Together We Can impact our local scholars.