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Scott Joplin Gets A High Grade For Making School A "Family Affair" During It's Winter FunFest!

Right after a tradgey hit the Scott Joplin School Family, the leadership team, in an effort to lift and add a touch of Christmas spirit, moved forward with their tradition of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" decorations for the entrance of their south side elementary school.

Immediately after hearing about the tragedy, Tenisha Jones, education director of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GADC) spoke to Principal Alene Mason and asked one question,"what do you need?" Principal Masons answered through her pain, we need to get resources in our school to help my students and my staff. She feared because of the relationship that many teachers and students had with 9 year-old Tyshaun Lee, that her school would be greatly impacted socially and emotionally from this horrific loss.

In return, GADC team begain working closely with the family engagement staff, of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Network 11 Office, Scott Joplin teachers and couselors, and our school based health partner, University of Illinois Medicine Mile Square Center. After agreeing on and scheduling the needed emotional supports for the students (and staff), something close to a Christmas miracle unfolded at Scott Joplin Elementary school.

Everyone agreed to plan and host a winter family fun fest and invite every student and every parent back into School Joplin. Principal Mason agreed and said let's name it, "It's a Family Affair." The date was set. With less than 10 days to go, a night of fun, games, arts & crafts, food, raffles, family and parent-only workshops and presents, lots of presents, was being planned! The team decided to set a goal of confirming about 200 parents/families to participate in the event, and the rest is history, literally. The day of the funfest, it was agreed every stduent had to leave school as they normally do and return with parent or guardian, who was pre-registerd for the event. However, that night, in a conciousness of we are all in this together, there were over 300 parents, who participated in various workshops and events across the entire school. Yes, this is practically the entire school!

Ironically, the only hiccup, right in the middle of the fun fest, ended up being one of the highlights of the evening. Even though the basketball coach, participated in all planning meetings, he forgot to check the schedule, and indeed a game between Joplin and Oglesby Elementary School, was on deck the night of the family funfest. Again, another surpise and touching effect occurred. The coach had Tyshawn's name and the his number '9' placed on the back of each team members uniform. They wore it proud. There was team spirit and lots of cheering. They won the game.

Many more awesome and touching acts happened that night. Parents, teachers and students really proved Joplin Elementary is about academics, participation (attendance) and family. There was full engagement in the literacy event in the library. The joy of reading and students listening intently, proved that Auburn Gresham READS! There was glitter and glue everywhere and the festive ornaments and christmas cards the parents were able to take home with them, was one example of an easy project parents can do with kids at home over the winter break.

Thanks to GADC's University of Illinois Medicine partner, Angela Ellison, held several closed door adult, parent/guardian only seminars, that gave parents a chance to talk openly about their concerns and the impact of 'stress' on their everyday activity. They walked away with great information to think about, references on other resources and even some new friends. 

The GADC sponsored a workforce development workshop, where parents could learn about the two-generation program, they are managing, thanks to a generous 3-year grant from the WKKF to improve student reading by 3rd grade and to help break the cycle of poverty, with the introduction of a workforce development program.  In particular, during the Family Affair night, Jazmyne Walker and Del Marie Johnson, GADC health and parent coordinators, help to make parents aware of a expanded workforce development externship program GADC provides, working wtih our CVS Health partner. To date many, Westcott Elementary school parents have completed the program and are now employees at one of the three CVS Health stores, right in the heart of Auburn Gresham. We were excited to get Scott Joplin parents interested and signed up to learn more about the program!

1st - 3rd Grade Band activities

4th - 5th Grade parent and student activities

6th -8th Grade life-size Kohoot game challenge for all!

The teachers banded together and make sure it was a great expereince for all who participated. This of course, all in addition to a normal school day of teaching, tutoring, consoling and managing scheuled extracurricular activites, and CPS network demands. The school looked and felt welcoming and was transformed into a real Family Fun Fest!

Third-grade students at sang a very special Christmas songs during their holiday assembly last week, and it made every parent and Principal Mason very proud. They were all blinged out and sang their traditional holiday songs, with a lot of joy and soul said teacher, who had less than one week to pull it all together with her students to learn. 

The teacher, who was the director of her 3rd graders, has been a part of the Scott Job family for many years. She said this was also a time, where she included the students in the planning, to get them excited about preparing for the Family Affair Winter FunFest. It was a way to uplift them, help them heal and know it's okay to still enjoy yourself— especially since it is the holiday season. And she ensureed they were dressed the part.

"Planning sponsoring this event has helped us build a stronger relationship with the Scott Joplin staff. It is great that they are really making us stick to our word and deliver the "right" needed programs, at the "right" time. We celebrate and feel it's great that Scott Joplin has become a CPS level one school, and it shows everywhere. Getting all our schools this same level of acheivement by assisting, with quality programming, is why we (GADC) are here in the community, working so hard to move the bar and improve education, across six Auburn Gresham GOLD schools in our network," says Tenisha Jones.

The Greater Auburn Gresham Developement Corporation is working agressively to identify mental health and other key programs and supports to be extended to the Auburn Gresham network of schools. It is our desire and mission of the education team that the Scott Joplin as the magic continues into the New Year, across all our schools.