Persisting Through COVID-19

By Tiffany Scott
May 22, 2020

COVID-19 changed everything. Benjamin E. Mays High School Program Director Stephanie Jones had been working with her seniors to finalize FAFSA and solidify their postsecondary choices when the school closed indefinitely. Rather than succumb to the new challenges of not directly connecting with Fellows, Stephanie doubled her efforts to adopt new technologies, stay in touch, and keep her Fellows on track.

Stephanie Jones returned to her alma mater Benjamin E. Mays High School in the Metro Atlanta area to teach and is currently in her second year as a OneGoal Program Director leading a Year Two cohort of seniors wrapping up their school year and preparing for their postsecondary programs in the fall.

Throughout the year, Stephanie helped Fellows navigate this important year of schoolwork so that each student would matriculate with plans to attend the postsecondary institution best suited for their unique needs. Throughout the year Fellows became increasingly excited about what the future held. Then COVID-19 hit. When asked how the pandemic impacted her class instruction, Stephanie shares, “This threw a monkey wrench in things, especially based on where we were in the OneGoal curriculum. We were finishing up the FAFSA process and securing final schools. Many students had narrowed down their list to at least two or three schools.”

With the school’s indefinite closure, Stephanie now works diligently with her OneGoal Director of Teacher Support Cortney Durista to provide individualized support for Fellows while honing in on students that still remained undecided on their postecondary plans.

“Unfortunately, if you do not know a Fellow’s thought process and you can no longer meet with them in class face-to-face, it becomes harder to figure out what they are thinking to help them navigate or ask ‘Have you considered this?'” she said.

Still, Stephanie continues communicating with Fellows, leading virtual classroom spaces and frequently connecting with Fellows via phone to help assist them with their needs. Stephanie remarks, “When I reach out I don’t like to lead with business, my main priority is to check to see how my Fellows are as people and if they are safe and sane.”

She continues, “Because of this relationship, I don’t have to ask how Fellows are coming along through their journey. They are genuinely excited to share with me every acceptance letter and success.”

Donate today to support teachers like Stephanie. Together, we can ensure that all of our students persist through this challenging time and reach their greatest postsecondary aspirations.