This summer, I will be working with the Domus Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with adolescents in low income, at risk situations in Stamford, Connecticut.
The Domus Foundation works on behavior modification and attendance retention at their charter schools through multiple models, including the Family Advocate model. The Family Advocate model looks at the emotional well being of the children, in and outside of school. This requires at home visits, in school visits, student success plans, and more.
Over the next two and a half months, I will be shadowing these Family Advocates, as well as helping gather behavioral and attendance based data for the future success of the Domus Foundation. Since the students are in school for the first few weeks of my time here, I am helping the middle school, Trailblazers Academy, with preparation for data analysis of attendance and the eighth graders’ graduation.
By the second day I already knew a handful of the seventh and eighth grade students and was helping them with their science fair projects due at the end of the week.
In order to get to know the students better, I joined the Director of Family Advocates, as well as a couple of the Family Advocates on a community service project. A sense of community is important to the schools that partner with Domus . Many children lack this feeling at home and the goal for the schools is to make each and every student feel comfortable and safe with every staff member.
During the two hour community service project, the students and Family Advocate staff cleaned up the outside of the school by picking up trash. We then debriefed with the students about their volunteering experience and what they would like to do in the future. This community service experience showed the students how important it is to help others and how good it can feel to do so. By the end of the activity, I had students coming up to me asking which volunteer project they could participate in over the summer and if I could be their Family Advocate for the next school year!
At this moment, it made me realize how important this internship is to me and to the students. The majority of these students have been sent to Trailblazers Academy because they were deemed the “trouble kids”and have been expelled from their other schools. Most students have experienced trauma and struggle to be successful individuals while trying to figure out how to cope with their personal situations.
The fact that some of these students started to open up to me with their stories and want me be a continuing part of their lives shows how these children are craving attention and love that will help them succeed in life. As my first week of my internship is coming to an end, I cannot wait to continue my relationships with the staff and students at Domus and Trailblazers Academy!