8:45 AM: Once morning duties wind down, he does a quick series of rounds. “Before instruction starts, I’m usually checking in with teachers to get a pulse on what’s happening,” he explains. “It gives us a sense of what’s going on with the students, and if there are ways that COMPASS can better support them, their parents, and the teachers.”
By 10:00 AM, the COMPASS after school staff arrives. Program Coordinator Lila Ocasio, Program Associate Icha Pagan, and Program Assistant Geneva Roberts share updates and plans for after school.
11:00 AM: This is the first opportunity to respond to email and input data into monthly reports. Within the school, Damion manages all of the community partnerships, supports a number of parent initiatives, and sits on the administrative team meetings. Externally, he’s a board member of the Connecticut After School Network and serves as the Co-chair for the Coalition for Community Schools Coordinators Network. Damion types out feedback to the steering committee, which will host their annual convening this May in Baltimore, before running off to the first of a series of meetings.
12:00 PM: On any given day, he’s meeting with various community partners. One of particular note is an expanding partnership with the University of Saint Joseph.
“This partnership is one of the things I’m most excited about this year,” he reflects. “It truly demonstrates what a community school looks like.”
This Fall, the university’s department of education will outfit ASA with nearly 60 undergraduate and graduate interns.
During the school day, eight undergraduates will learn their craft by observing and assisting classroom teachers. During the after school program, 51 graduate students will tutor select COMPASS students in reading and writing. After these tutoring sessions, the graduate students will then take their graduate class – taught by their professor from St. Joe’s – on site.
“The University of Saint Joseph is fully integrated into the school,” Damion explains. “They have office space here, they provide the teachers within the school with professional development, and we could not be more thankful for the programming that they extend to our students.”
The relationship with Saint Joseph’s is one of many that Damion manages.
At a glance, those relationships include a longstanding relationship with Travelers Corporation, which will provide 60 middle school students with a mentor match. “That one-to-one attention from a trained Traveler’s employee will be huge for our kids,” Damion says.
United Way will continue its reading program, providing students in kinder, first, and second grade with a trained reading buddy. On the health front, a new partnership with the Latino Enrichment Organization (LEO) and My People Clinical Services will bring in mental health support for students and families. The Village for Children and Families will continue its longstanding relationship as a mental health service provider, and the school-based health clinic – which provides health and dental screenings for any child in Hartford – relies on COMPASS to help raise awareness of its services.