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Episode #41: Labor of Love for McKinney-Vento Liaisons Working with Students in Need

They are everyday heroes in Jordan School District, ready to help students find success in school despite having no real place to call home. On this episode of the Supercast, we meet several McKinney-Vento Liaisons and find out how they manage to make life just a little bit better for students experiencing a wide range of homelessness.

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<h2>Audio Transcription</h2>

Anthony Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. On this episode of the Supercast, we learned about something our guests call a labor of love. We're talking about helping students in need as part of the McKinney Vento program. It is a federal program that exists to help students succeed in school, despite having no real place to call home, or for those students who may need just a little extra support, let's start by hearing from Hilda Lloyd who oversees the McKinney Vento program, and several amazing women who act as program liaisons for students in need. Thanks for being on the Supercast. Thank you for having us. Can you tell us for those who may not be familiar? What is McKinney Vento? First of all,

Hilda Lloyd:
Bento is a program that is designed to help children that have some type of hardship. My job is to help the schools to get these kids enrolled, immediately able to meet the criteria to graduate. We work with the elementary level middle school and high school level.

Anthony Godfrey:
Can you describe for those listening, how that set up in our district

Hilda Lloyd:
In the elementary level we have when they first come in or identify them as families that are not living in a home or in shelters, or if they're on their own living with grandparents due to circumstances, we have ladies there that provide services for them. Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's providing support to help them navigate school, given all of the difficulties that they're experiencing in life outside of school. Correct. How many people do we have helping our homeless students

Hilda Lloyd:
In our high schools? We have one in every school, but the new schools also with the middle schools and we have the elementary with the homeless liaisons there for the reason, if it's mostly title one schools, not everyone has it. We put them in there as the time comes, if the numbers are high so that we can meet the needs of those students.

Anthony Godfrey:
What misconceptions might people have about students who qualify for services under McKinney-Vento

Hilda Lloyd:
Families come in and they may not look a certain way, so they just don't reach out. Or sometimes the families don't realize this program even exist. So that's why it's so important to have the people that work under this program to kind of look and identify them as they come into the office and have women there that ask the right questions so they can explain to them that they could have help with this program that we have in the Jordan school district. And that's pretty much how we find the students that need this help.

Anthony Godfrey:
So asking the right questions as they come in, because it's not always obvious.

Hilda Lloyd:
Yes. And we also do a lot of training during the school year so that we can prepare the secretaries and the main office in which they are wonderful to work with. So they can actually call or notify who is over that program in their schools so that they can get help right away.

Anthony Godfrey:
When students have difficulty in their home life, they may not know where they're going to be staying, or they don't have food security. It makes it pretty tough to learn. Doesn't it? It does. How long have you been working with McKinney Vento?

Hilda Lloyd:
About 15, 16 years.

Anthony Godfrey:
I remember back a long ways and you've always been helping students. So we sure appreciate it. You have a really exciting statistic to share this year. Tell me about that.

Hilda Lloyd:
Well, we've been working on mostly we target a lot of the high population and we've come to some programs that we feel like in that help the kids. And we kind of push that more on the education of graduation. So we try to work mostly with that because we feel like if we can actually get some of these kids to graduate, we will change the whole dynamics of their family. In the past years, we've had between a hundred to 125 students to graduate. And out of those, we have maybe four that don't graduate because they come into our district too late, but we finish them and guide them till the end of the school year, which is in August or else, we help them go through the adult ed to make sure that they do graduate. But this year I was worried because of what was happening and the connection and the kids coming to school. But because of the women is nonstop, just encouraging these kids here, we had 154 students that were going to be graduating from our four high schools, five high schools, excuse me. And with the help of the counselors, the principals and the support and the wonderful work women have done, we believe it or not. All of them graduated

Anthony Godfrey:
And graduated on time on time. That is incredible. When you think about what's going on in their lives and the pandemic on top of that for 100% to graduate on time, must be very rewarding for you and your team.

Hilda Lloyd:
It is because I, like I said, I think we have been a step of ahead of all this, because we have stepped the bar up every year and told these kids, and these women just have been, you know, they've been trained, they know what to expect and what they need to do to help these kids to be successful. And they just knew how to reach out. And what's so great about it is the training that they also get involved with with the other staff in the school and explain to them and help them. And these kids hear from one another, you know, this program exists. You can go get help and you know, they never turn anybody away. Even if they're not McKinney, Vento students, they're there for them. And that's what makes it work is everybody works together because they understand hardship and they made it very clear what hardship is because they, they teach it. They understand it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, let's talk with a couple of the ladies. Who've been helping these students get across the finish line, Laura Faulkner at Herriman. Thanks for joining us.

Speaker 4:
Thanks for having me. I'm real excited about this. How long have you been at Harrison? Well, I've been at Herrmann cruel for about two and a half years. In the McKinney Vento, this was my first full year do McKinney Vento.

Anthony Godfrey:
You want to switch over and start helping in the McKinney Vento area.

Speaker 4:
I love helping people. And last year my position was helping students with feeling great. This was a no brainer in my past positions for 21 years, I've been in positions of helping in the scene to people and just wanting to make their lives better or something that can help them move along.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the obstacles that you have helped people overcome?

Speaker 4:
Some of these kids come in and they don't know how to talk to their parents sometimes about things, or they don't know how to talk to a counselor, or they're afraid to go into there and I'm like, I'll go with you. Let's go to that. You know? And so I've been able to walk them into the account or we've been able to sit down and the three of us brainstorm

Anthony Godfrey:
Some of the details of what they're going through is just heartbreaking. Like you said, there so much that we take for granted that students are hoping for and don't have a day to day.

Speaker 4:
They're also scared to ask. That is the one thing I, you know, they're, they're embarrassed. They're they don't know how they're afraid that somebody's going to find out. And that's what we're trying to do is trying to help. I leveling the playing field a little bit, let them know they're going to have the same opportunities as anybody else in that school. And we're going to mix up and if they want to sing, we're going to help them sing.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that, that you, that you're going to help them. And you're, you're their connection with the broader world because their world is pretty small without you. I would guess

Speaker 4:
Some of them, it is, you know, some just broaden and they go, but some are just, they're scared or they have different social anxieties or, and that's what we're there for. And they can come into my office and say, Hey, can I have a snack? And a lot of time checks come in and ask for that, just to say hi, just to have that personal connection.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's fantastic. And I'm so glad the kids have you, what do you wish people knew about students who need this kind of help?

Speaker 4:
People knew that their all around them and not to judge and not to, you know, think that because this person is dressing this way or that way, that it's a reason to send them or make them feel less because they're not learning on their same plane, burning. Some kids learn differently. And one of the things that taught all my students as a mom of kids, I've always kids, you know, I don't expect perfection. I don't expect straight A's. I want you to do the best you can graduate. And that's what I'm here to help you do.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. That's great. That's the goal. Do your best and graduate. If there are folks listening to this who think I'd like to help kids that are in need, that, that don't have that security in their life, what can they do to help? Are there donations that that can help or things they can do?

Speaker 4:
Donations have been amazing at Herrmann with just some of the basics that we take for granted, it could be hands-off, it could be a new water bottle that they can claim there because people like to feel comfortable, whether it be at school or at home.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you. And they can donate that directly to the school or through the foundation. Well thank you for everything you're doing Laura. I know it makes a difference in their lives now and in their lives later because you give them the skills and the confidence to move forward in life and, and, and make their own path away from maybe some of the difficulties they've experienced.

Speaker 4:
Yeah. And just to let them know that we have compassion that we understand, everybody goes through hard times at some time or another.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you. Let's talk now with Mary Ellen Helton from Riverton, how are you Mary Ellen, tell me a little bit about some of the students at Riverton that you've been helping and, and what have they been facing and what have you able to do to help them get, get their, get across the finish line?

Speaker 5:
Oh, that was a big battle this year, but some of them have been mainly the stress of going from going to school to having to rush, to get on the computer and try to navigate getting their area assignments, taken care of online and to communicate with their teachers have students that are bilingual. I don't speak Spanish or Portuguese. So I had find my translator from school and, and get some communications going with them so they can actually graduate and be successful.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you help with housing, transportation, food, clothing, really every aspect of survival. Yes. Of all the students you work with. Can you tell us some of the personal struggles they've had to overcome to, to graduate?

Speaker 5:
Oh, I had one student was overwhelmed with stress and his mom, dad had to work night and day just to keep things going because they were not sure if they're going to have a job one day to the next. So he was overwhelmed with that situation and trying to navigate, going to school online. He made it, I mean, we, it took a lot of pushing and a lot of coaching him to say, you can do this. We were I'm behind you 100%. If you need any help, just get ahold of me. And he did. Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
He had been working at Riverton.

Speaker 5:
This is my third year.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what made you want to work with students who qualify for McKinney Vento health?

Speaker 5:
Well, I started out working with special ed Claire back in 95 with transportation being the school bus aide. Yeah. And just a love of working with children until I had my own. And then I work with jams, the Jordan alternative middle school, helping them to break the barrier of learning, how to study and to find a potential. And then I can't see it, a child going hungry or without need. And so when this job opened up, I just, I just had to go for it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, I love that, that you're there. I love that all of you are there in the positions where you are from your stories earlier. It sounds as if Mary Ellen, you end up speaking with kids at various times of the day and night. Is that right?

Speaker 5:
I do not now, but during the school year I do. And making sure they're okay.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's good. They have a lifeline. And as was mentioned earlier, I suspect you need to reach out to them sometimes because it's difficult to ask for help. Tell me a bit about how you overcome that barrier. When kids don't want to ask for help, adults don't want to ask for help. A lot of times, even in much less dire circumstances than these kids are in. So how do you help connect them to resources when they may be reluctant?

Speaker 5:
I, I walked the halls during the lunch times and I watched the students. I watched my, the ones that I know are on my list. And I, I can see if they are kind of closed off or just kind of keeping to themselves. And I go over to them and say, you need to come talk to me and they'll come talk to me or I'll see them check in late. And I go, okay, what's going on? Did you get up late? Or, you know, just checking in and see are all calmed down. If I see their grades start slipping and say what's going on and just, Oh, I always check in on my students. All 52 of them, the share.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's very moving just to hear the idea that kids need a refuge and you're there for them.

Speaker 5:
You know, it's overwhelming sometimes to see the students go through what they have to do at a young age. They shouldn't, I mean, they're not adults yet. And they're facing adult situations.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm sure it means the world to them to have somebody to lean on and the place to go, to collect themselves and to go out and face the stress that they have to deal with. Again, every time I think about it, I just am amazed that the compassion you show and just what a lifeline, you all are to kids that need need you the very most. So thank you. Thank you. And stay with us. We're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, what parents should know about this program designed to help students through trying times

Speaker 6:
I'm Steven Hall, director of Jordan education foundation in today's challenging and uncertain times, it is more important than ever before to support one another here at the Jordan education foundation, we invite you to join us in making sure children are not going hungry. Your $10 donation to the foundation will help us feed one student for a weekend. When food and meals may be very scarce for some, with food and hygiene supplies in the principal's pantries at Jordan school districts being depleted and in higher demand than ever before. Every financial contribution made will help us to keep the pantries filled for students who would otherwise go without the Jordan education foundation exists due to the generosity of people who care about kids. If you would like to donate to help children from going hungry, please visit Jordan education, foundation.org, or contact the foundation at (801) 567-8125. Thank you together. We can make a difference.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're back now

Speaker 7:
Talking about the incredible work being done in the districts, McKinney Vento program. I really, really appreciate that you would take the time to talk with me and I really appreciate what you guys do. I can't even express it. It's awesome.

Speaker 8:
Well, thank you. It's a very wonderful thing to be part of. I love it.

Speaker 7:
How long have you, how long have you been at West Jordan?

Speaker 8:
Just one year. I started here in August last year. Yeah.

Speaker 7:
And what have you learned about students who qualify for services under McKinney-Vento in that time?

Speaker 8:
Oh my goodness. So many things. A lot of the federal program is for homeless students, but most of the time I work with kids who have a home in one form or another, but they're disadvantaged and needing food and clothes and validation and support, but we work with, you know, whoever needs our, whoever needs us to provide some support.

Speaker 7:
What are some of the things that you're able to do for students?

Speaker 8:
They have a lot of resources. If they come to me, I have all kinds of food and snacks. And I have clothing, coats, socks, shoes, high chain products, and school supplies endless amounts of things I can do to help if I can just find those who need it. That's part of my challenges, finding students who are willing and able and needy to come in and talk to me.

Speaker 7:
What are some of the things that have surprised you about the situations students find themselves in?

Speaker 8:
I think, you know, one of the biggest surprises at first may not be specifically as a student, but when I first started, I had people say, Hey, I have donations. I'd love to give. And many, many people give so much. And I'm so grateful for that. But as I went through, I found that students of any kind would like to fit in and they just to say, Oh, students homeless. They wouldn't mind having these clothes or those shoes, but they do, of course they're high school kids and all of us would. And so I learned that they would like to fit in and I can't just offer anything. And we try to get donations of new or gently used things that students can feel like they have dignity too.

Speaker 7:
In other words, if you're making a donation, it's nice to donate something that isn't nearly used out or long out of style, something that can be used to allow kids to blend. And when you say that, that really resonates. If we all think back, we can really think about the time when we were in middle school or in high school. And we just didn't want to draw undue attention, especially if we fell awkward about a particular aspect of our lives. And, and if, if you're eating a place to stay or you don't have food security, the last thing you want to do probably is stain that animal.

Speaker 8:
That is absolutely true. I think all of us can relate. Like you say, who didn't have a time when they felt that way. And surely as I went through and talked to students, I bring him in to let them look through what we have and just immediately off the bat, I started to see that, that they care as much as any of us care and maybe they do already feel like they stand out, you know, in their heart. They feel that way. And now we can help them to at least feel like they fit in. So I started being very particular about what I, you know, would have, as far as donations, I did have to take some things to DEI and I had to go through and be really particular. But now when people ask what they can give, I I'm very specific so that we know we have what the students can really use.

Speaker 7:
And do you find that you help students throughout the year, do you have some students just need help on a short-term basis and some on a long-term basis?

Speaker 8:
Yes, absolutely. There are students that come in and have stories and I, and you know, they are struggling in family situations or being alone and I help them all along the year, but I've had students come in who just need a little here and there. In fact during the Corona virus issues at the school, I recall and check on students on my list. And I had some parents who say, Oh, we ran out of a job, but we're doing fine now. Everything's good. And then others who just are really struggling through whatever their challenges might be. And I have helped them all along the way.

Speaker 7:
Are there times when you think students need a connection with someone that they can rely on at the school as much as anything?

Speaker 8:
Yeah. I think that's one of the most important things is that getting to their level of, I need blah, I need help. I need validation. I need people who I can trust and who I can come to without feeling. Like I'm not as good as others. And that's part of what the joy I find in my job is helping them feel like they're, they're okay, there's good as those around them. And I help them learn to love themselves,

Speaker 7:
Helping them learn to love themselves. That makes a lot of sense. That's, that's a hard thing as we're going through the hard times. Yes. Your dads are there, is there a particular story some experience that you've had that would help those who may not understand the magnitude of the problems that some students face, maybe we'll understand that.

Speaker 8:
I, yes, I do have stories that are heartwarming and heartbreaking. One of the ones that stands out to me as I had a girl come in and I had given, been given her name, she was on my list and I was just getting to know her called her in. And I said, so how you doing? And what's going on? And she told me a little about her circumstances and she really had a hard life of what she came from. And I said, well, can I help you? I have food here. I have this and that. She said, Oh no, I'm sure other people need it more than I do. I'm fine. And so I went through some more and finally she said, well, I do need a coat. And I said, Oh, I've got a coat. I said, come with me. So we went down to my room and walked in and she still was just very reluctant.

Speaker 8:
And so I just coaxed her along, Oh, look, we have, we have some socks here. And look, we have shirts, some cute shirts and I have a jacket and coat and we just went through shampoo and all, and she ended up with a big, huge bag of things. And I just had to really reassure her along the way that this was okay. And it's all right, that she needed it. And at the very end, she picked up her sack. And then she said, can I give you a hug? And I said, sure. And I gave her a hug and she started to cry and said, you've been more like a mom to me than anybody has been in a very long time. And it was just the sweetest thing to see, you know, she didn't need any help. She was okay. But really she did need so much help. And she finally was able to allow me to help her. And it just was a joyous thing for both of us.

Speaker 7:
I'm so glad she had you.

Speaker 8:
I'd glad to have that experience. You can imagine what that meant to me.

Speaker 7:
Well, I'm sure that there are stories every day, how you've touched lives and set kids on the trajectory for success, where they can escape some of the difficulties in their lives and overcome their circumstances to create a life for themselves that is productive and happy. And I'm just so grateful. They have you.

Speaker 8:
Oh, thank you. I feel, I just feel so happy to be able to help.

Speaker 7:
What advice would you give students or parents? If they need help or know someone who needs help?

Speaker 8:
One of the first things they need to do is to be able to trust enough to come in. And sometimes a friend can say, Oh, you can go in and they can help you. Or if I have their name and call them down. But the, the first step is to feel like, okay, I can do this. And sometimes it's true. Parents have different attitudes. I actually had a young lady come in and she, you would never know she needed help. He got, she was very intelligent and outgoing and son. And one day she came in and said, you know, it's not always what it seems like on the outside. And she was hungry and needed help. And, and we were able to do it very discreetly and help her. And she was so grateful, but I would have never known. And I think your family was like, Oh no, no, no, we, we don't need help. We're fine. But she, wasn't fine. And so having her come in and find out what's good. And when other families say, you know what, we have this temporary setback and we would really appreciate some help. Cause it's hard to ask. We would all rather give than receive.

Speaker 7:
I like the advice that if you know of a friend who needs help, you can, you can connect them to those services because sometimes that's difficult. But also sometimes we just don't even realize that people are going to my help.

Speaker 8:
That is absolutely true. Actually that's the biggest part of my job is to find those who are reluctant to come in, who really do need help. I think word spreads. And sometimes I had a student who brought in another student and I had been with him for a while and helped him. And he brought in a girl and said, see, she's okay. You can talk to her. It's it's trying to get help. And that's exactly what brings them man sometimes is, is finding a friend that they can trust to bring them in talk.

Speaker 7:
I have no doubt. They deeply appreciate your friendship and compassion and your help. Thank you for spending the time on the super cast Robin, Luke from West Jordan high school. Thank you. Thanks for listening to this episode of the super cast. And remember education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you out there. [inaudible].

 

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