Member Communications 3 min read

Student Center Steps Up to Serve

By JCC Milwaukee June 30, 2021

The approach of a new school year is usually one of optimism – new classrooms, new experiences, new friends. The school year of 2020, however, was complicated by the continued prevalence of COVID-19. Districts throughout our community made the difficult decision to initially open in a virtual-only setting, creating a tremendous burden on working families.

Enter Student Center. This innovative program was developed as an in-person destination for area students to continue their virtual learning in a safe, inclusive, and enriching environment – while empowering parents and caregivers to go to work or otherwise manage their days. Leveraging the JCC’s deep experience in youth programs, coupled with close partnerships built through years of service to area schools and educators with the JCC’s Kids Center before and after school program, the program launched in early fall as a full day, full service alternative to home school.

Over the course of the 2020-2021 academic school year, Student Center served 47 students from 10 different area schools, partnering with parents and educators to balance virtual schedules, assignments, and instruction. Operating safely following CDC guidelines, the spaces & places of the JCC allowed for appropriate distancing, with access to of all the available and unique program areas (indoors and out – including visits to JCC Rainbow Day Camp!) available at the Whitefish Bay campus. Whether the learning was synchronous (all students live, virtually, with a school educator) or asynchronous (recorded lessons, scheduled assignments, or self-study on the student’s schedule) professional staff was onsite at the J, ready to support the student’s progress and success. Providing care to area families was important; so also was building a program that supported academic continuity and social engagement.

As the school year progressed, the program remained flexible to both schools and families, modifying schedules and enrollment to accommodate as districts opened hybrid instruction in advance of full day in-person school. With spring approaching, many schools began their transition to full onsite instruction, and the JCC Youth Programs team began to slowly ramp down the Student Center program. While it can often be a sad moment to say goodbye to a program or service, in this case it was a happy event!

Even more, it was a testament to the program’s success to safely offer the community a necessary, if impermanent, solution to a pressing need. The impact was felt throughout the community, and nowhere was that impact more clear than from the families served:

“(Our son) loves his days at Student Center”

“We are so appreciative for this program, and happy to have more time at the JCC. Thank you for your hard work to make this option available to families.”

“We are so incredibly grateful to you and your team and the JCC. And we just know what a positive impact you have on (our son).”

“You’re a godsend; in fact, I use that word to describe you and your team and the program on average about once a day.”

“We had our daughter’s Parent Teacher Conference last night and they had so, so many compliments for the amazing job you are doing with the kids.. Please be proud….you are making such a difference! We cannot thank you enough for all you do.”

Read more Stories from the JCC 2020-21 Annual Report