- What sets your Community School apart from the others in the APN?
We are a small but happy school—we are a close-knit family, and we really value the friendships and relationships that are made here at McKinley. Thanks to the help of our wonderful partner, Rodale, we also have a beautiful community garden (and the only community school to have a garden!) This garden is unique because all the classes really were a fundamental part of building and creating this dream.
- What is your school’s #1 goal for the current school year?
We have many goals and things to focus on, but our primary goal would definitely be to improve our families’ access to health services.
- How has your Community School’s partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Allentown helped your students?
Boys & Girls Club has always played such a huge role in supporting our school—whether it was through providing Backpack Buddies to 15 of our families, or helping assist families with Christmas gifts during the holidays, we really have benefited from having BGCA as our lead partner. This year, especially, we have come to depend on the Turner Street Girls Club a lot more because so many of our students are now participating in their after school programs, which are offered 5 days a week and are great learning supports for the students.
- What type of educational support do students as your school need the most?
I would definitely say that many of our students do need that 1:1 attention; whether it is homework help, or just receiving assistance with improving their reading/writing or math skills, our students need that positive attention and guidance, especially since many of their parents may be working and so they aren’t getting a lot of these very necessary educational supports at home.
- What made you want to be a Community School Director in Allentown?
Amy Jahn de Torrez was working at Christ Lutheran Church and assisting with community outreach, when she soon found herself working with many of the McKinley families. She soon realized that she loved being in a school setting, and so much of her work at CLC was so interconnected with the role of a Community School Director, that moving over to McKinley was such a natural fit. Because of Amy’s relationship with CLC, the partnership of McKinley and CLC has only blossomed every year since. Amy loves to be able to help support and strengthen families through her role as a CSD, and truly has a gift for what she does.
Ari Kantrow—After serving all of last year as an Americorps VISTA member in two of Allentown’s community schools (Roosevelt and SMMS), I realized that working in a community school is truly a unique experience, and I really loved being able to develop such strong relationships with the families and support them and help their students succeed. After Amy decided to pursue student teaching for a few months and the opportunity to fill in as a CSD at McKinley arose and I began to meet the incredible staff and families of McKinley, I realized that there was no other place that I would rather be.