For Nora, being a community school coordinator is more than just a job.
“I like to say that my students’ story is my story,” said Nora. “My students are me and I am my students.”
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Nora grew up in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, just down the street from Longfellow Elementary, where she now works.
“I love my neighborhood and always try to find ways to give back,” said Nora. “I also keep in mind that the reason I am where I am today is because of the bravery and resilience of my parents.”
Cultural relevance is one of three pillars of a Community School, alongside equity and shared leadership. As the community school coordinator at Longfellow Elementary and supported by Journey House and United Way, Nora makes connections and forges partnerships among students, families, staff, and neighborhood organizations to ensure success for every student.
Nora’s work this past year has focused on priorities identified by the school community: enhancing community partnerships, staff and student relationship building, and parent engagement.
“Parents feel comfortable coming to me with ideas and questions because I’m bilingual and we come from the same background,” said Nora. “Parent engagement is important to Longfellow because we value what our parents and guardians have to say and we want them to be involved in the decision making when it comes to their students’ education.”
Donations to Community Schools through United Way support coordinators like Nora at more than a dozen schools across the community.
Learning was fully virtual for much of the 2020-21 school year, so Nora had to adapt. “As a community school coordinator it's all about those authentic relationships you build with people in the school,” said Nora. “So I used Zoom and phone calls to meet with parents, partners, and staff and took any chance I could to get involved.”
As schools reopen, Nora looks forward to continuing her work as a community school coordinator at Longfellow. “I am so lucky to be in this role,” said Nora. “With so much inequality in the world, it’s refreshing to work in an environment where everyone is focused on breaking down the barriers against our students and planting seeds of hope.”
Nora and Community Schools remind us all that to live better, we must Live United. Consider supporting this important work with a donation to United Way’s Community Schools initiative.