Executive Perspective: Being Face-to-Face

By Dr. Kimberly Leverette

As we enter the 2021-2022 school season, Flint & Genesee Education & Talent programs have the privilege of being in-person. It has been a slow build from March 2020 to this school year. Some of our YouthQuest sites came back together at the end of the school year or during summer session, and our Summer Youth Initiative program running in person with safety protocols in place.

There are several reasons why it is important that we return to in-person learning. The biggest piece of that is relationship building.

Whether we are talking about Flint Promise students being able to physically be in the classroom and meet face-to-face with Success Coaches; YouthQuest students learning and growing with YouthQuest staff at their sites; or TeenQuest students learning how to stand up and stand out in front of facilitators and peers, the face-to-face interaction and ability to collaborate is essential to the development of both children and young adults.

Over the last year and a half, we have worked to set up remote places to learn, and we were very successful in continuing to provide program during those difficult times. However, with in-person programming, we have a greater opportunity to connect students with resources. We can better collaborate with our partners, and we can continue to build on the success of our programs.

Another layer to coming back face-to-face is the intervention support that kids have not been able to receive during virtual learning. For YouthQuest specifically, students have a safe space to be after school, they receive dinner and a snack, and they have more opportunities to one-on-one access to YouthQuest staff.

To ensure the safety of our students and staff, all our programs will follow the guidance from the Genesee County Health Department and will continue to follow mandates to keep our kids safe.

Despite the challenges presented, the pandemic has resulted in several positive outcomes. Collectively, as a community, we developed an appreciation for the importance of education and a better appreciation for our caretakers. The role of community education has been highlighted in these last months, and we will continue to provide these services that benefit our entire community.

Flint & Genesee Education & Talent aims to support a child at every step of the way – starting kindergarten to finding their college or career pathway. While we can do this virtually, supporting our students face-to-face is our preferred way to accomplish what we do best.