Monica Darko, a Success Mentor in Newark’s Belmont Runyon Elementary School, was at first skeptical of the impact home visits could have.
But after attending Concentric Educational Solutions initial field training, she realized the importance of not only talking directly with her students’ families but also witnessing the living situations of the students she mentors.
“The field training was a great experience, said Monica. “It was good to see where our students live and the challenges they face in their homes and neighborhoods.”
She is one of six Success Mentors trained by Concentric Educational Solutions to conduct home visits in the city’s most underrepresented communities. The program will increase the effectiveness of the mentoring program by strengthening the mentor-student relationship outside of the school.
“Home visits are a tried-and-true method for improving school culture and reengaging students and families who have become disconnected from the school community,” said David Heiber, the founder and executive director of CES. “We are proud to play an increasing role in improving educational outcomes of students in Newark.”
Research has shown school home visits to be an effective tool in increasing daily attendance, increasing parent engagement and reducing the number of in-school and out-of-school suspensions.
CES was founded in 2010 with a grant from the NewSchools Venture Fund. Since then, the organization has conducted more than 50,000 home visits in 15 states, impacting more than 100,000 students.
Educators from CES train teachers and school staff in properly preparing for a home-visit like conducting research on the family and holding meetings with essential stakeholders.
“The pre-visit meeting allowed for the social workers to share information we typically would not know from calling the families,” Monica said regarding one of her families.
CES then walks the trainees through how to conduct an initial meeting and ensures essential data is collected for post-visit meetings and follow-up visits.
“Within a city like Newark, I realize how important programs like this are,” said Paris Hall, another Newark Success Mentor. “Children need to attend school, and it is very important for the parents to be as much involved as possible.”