COVID-19 Stress, Community Partners, and Upcoming Strategies for Student Engagement

Over the past two weeks, I have spent my time collaborating with my Green Team associates on constructing a poll for students at Frankford Highschool. This poll seeks to further illuminate the current student knowledge base of environment-related issues, as well as bring forth the main topics they are interested in working on through this project. Progress has so far been slow, but steady with most of my Green Team work- teachers and students (including myself) have been bogged down by the massive effects of COVID-19 on life in general, but specifically in the learning and teaching environment. Mask mandates will potentially be lifted in schools in the near future, so there are definite anxieties about being present in school. Previous to now, garnering student interest in the project was slow going, with many Frankford students already juggling jobs, familial responsibilities, and courseloads in the midst of a global pandemic. Before Winter Break, Maya’s Biology students had recently voted on the types of seeds to be grown in their mobile greenhouse cart.

So far, I have spent a bit of time focusing on finding potential Community Partnerships, as have some teachers on my Green Team. While still a work in progress, there are some organizations we have in mind to reach out to for partnership on this project, including the District 15 Block Captain Sheree Anderson, the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Project, the Frankford CDC, and Sanctuary Farm Philadelphia. Because the student interest poll has not yet been distributed, gauging student interest topics has been difficult so far. That being said, these potential partners can afford a wide range of knowledge pertaining to environmental concerns within the Frankford area.

As previously mentioned, COVID-19 has been and currently is the biggest hindrance to this project. I for one am fully vaccinated and boosted, but immunocompromised, which makes going in-person to my school site very difficult at this point. When challenges of this project were discussed with my Green Team, we concluded that student/teacher availability was also a large obstacle. Looking forward, some of our goals are to establish a steady schedule for students and increase documentation for better collaboration during the school day.

In the coming weeks, we will be sending out the poll to Frankford students, creating an asset map, and beginning communication with potential community partners. I am looking forward to meeting with my Green Team and learning some useful methodology for this project at this month’s workshop.

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