The YESS staff at DSI/Gemstone held a staff meeting this morning via Microsoft Teams. They all joined the online meeting from their various locations to discuss the needs of their students and how best to address those needs.
During these unusual times, the YESS teachers remain committed to their students. Each site differs in the way in which learning opportunities can be delivered to students, yet the teachers are incorporating unique and creative ways in doing so, at the same time abiding by social distancing norms.
At one site, teachers have used Screencastify to record lessons or to demonstrate a concept. The video is then presented to residents in all the through a built-in system within the facility. As students have questions regarding their work, their staff can call the teacher for further assistance.
Another site provides educational materials to the students through the facility staff. When questions arise a teacher can be called via FaceTime to provide clarification.
In the Transition units where students are allowed to check out Chromebooks, the teachers are able to put assignments onto Canvas and students can then access them there. Teachers are also able to use Google Meet/Hangouts to video conference with the students regarding their work.
The YESS staff are using Microsoft Teams or Google Meet for regular meetings and collaboration. Weekly trainings have also been held to provide teachers with the opportunity to learn how to use and incorporate these tools in their planning and teaching.
YESS teachers and staff are working collaboratively to ensure that we are keeping students and teachers safe and at the same time providing meaningful learning experiences for students.
Though not in the schools meeting face-to-face with students, the YESS Juvenile Justice Advocates, mentors, are busier than ever providing stability and support to Youth in Custody students throughout the district. Through phone calls, text messages, online video conferencing and a plethora of other creative means, the mentors are keeping in touch with students as they struggle to adjust to this new normal. They are often the go-between for teachers and the students, gathering information on how to obtain free Internet at their homes to enable them to do online assignments and communicate with their teachers.
The mentors are also providing and arranging for much needed emotional support to the students as they try to cope with the emotional challenges of this period of school closure. These mentors are definitely heroes among us!
Mentors are BUSY during this distance learning time! They have been working with foster parents to make sure they have internet access. They are speaking with their students several times a week to make sure there are no barriers to their participating in class assignments. They are writing court reports, working with caseworkers, providing instruction and support to foster parents in accessing resources to help their kids, and helping in every way needed to ensure that our awesome, but at-risk students, are being successful. They have dropped off care packages at kids’ homes (on the doorstep) and helped them get any equipment or supplies they may need while they are away from school.
They are working with teachers to get assignments and have been coordinating all the services for our mentoring students. Currently we are serving about 170 kiddos, so the mentors are definitely keeping very busy!
In addition to all of this, they are participating in weekly group trainings. Our latest training was presented by Ceciley Hallman, a former Choose Gang Free Advocate who now works as a mentor in the Eisenhower area. We learned much from her about how to help our students that are gang involved and to better serve them in a positive way.
They are also able to work on many other trainings that will help them in doing their jobs.
A huge shout out to the mentors that continuously go above and beyond in serving our students!
Students from Salt Lake County Youth Services with Mrs. Horgan, teacher, were provided the opportunity to attend the Tumbleweeds Film Festival for Kids. The event was held at the Salt Lake City Public Library downtown. The festival includes film showings, some produced by and some for kids, workshops, and other events.
Representatives consisting of YIC Directors, educators, and consultants reviewed numerous testing platform to determine one that could address needs throughout the state. As a result, TABE is now being phased out and has been replaced by Renaissance Star 360, a computer-adaptive assessment that measures student achievement on reading and math skills.
YIC in Granite, YESS, chose to start it at Decker Lake Youth Center. Students are tested in reading and math the first week of every month beginning in December. We are now expanding it to other sites with students who are more long term. Teachers, counselors, mentors, and instructional assistants are receiving training so that we are able to test throughout YESS.
In Granite School District several days in the school calendar are set aside for professional development (PD). YESS, sSTEP, and GAPP teachers recently participated in a PD discussion regarding the ability to design instruction that challenges, motivates, and interests our students. As educators we continue to refine our teaching skills in order to provide the best education for our students.
Every year for Valentine’s Day, Cindy, Health teacher at DT, orders special human heart shaped chocolates for the students as they discuss the heart, its function and etc. Yum!
In conjunction with Cindy’s Health lessons on the heart, Cathleen, Art teacher, has the students draw and design a human heart, including in the drawings different aspects of what touches one’s “heart”.
Teachers in YESS make themselves available to meet with parents, foster parents, caseworkers, advocates, staff, and any others that work on behalf of the students they teach.
YESS is privileged to have an awesome and dedicated group of mentors (Juvenile Justice Advocates) who work with youth in care throughout the schools in Granite and with students in some of the facilities.