Helping Older Students Succeed at City-As-School

A Day at City-As-School

Carolina and Tomiko with students

Tomiko (far left) and Carolina (far right) with students pre-pandemic

Carolina Moquete and Tomiko Abreu provide CYD college and career services at our partner school, City-As-School (CAS), located at 16 Clarkson Street in Manhattan’s West Village. Services are currently fully remote due to the pandemic. CAS is a transfer high school serving over 650 students from all five boroughs, ranging from ages 17 to 21. The school offers an experiential learning environment where students gain credits from traditional classwork as well as at internships across the city.

The most interesting students in New York!
“A typical CAS student is incredibly hopeful, resilient, strong, and creative,” Carolina says. “The school serves some of the most interesting youth in NYC – in fact, that used to be the school’s slogan.”

There’s never a slow day.
Both Carolina and Tomiko work directly with students to guide their path to college or a postsecondary plan after graduation. “There is a lot of juggling meetings with students one-on-one to go over their college or career plans to meetings with CAS administration, teaching workshops, and administrative work such as entering data and checking emails,” says Tomiko. “We coordinate closely with Ummi Modeste, who is a CAS DOE employee who also works with students on postsecondary planning.”

How work has changed through Covid-19.
The pandemic shutdown of high schools has been challenging for staff. “Losing the in-person connection with students has been the biggest challenge,” Tomiko states. “We used to get the chance to hang out with students at lunch and talk to them on a more personal level, so that has been a loss.” Instead, Carolina and Tomiko have been doing more daily wellness check-ins with students via phone and email. “Now if we haven’t heard from someone in a period of time, we reach out and just say ‘Hey, how are you doing? I haven’t heard from you in a while.’ This helps keep us engaged with the students,” says Carolina. There have been some silver linings to online schooling. “We now get to see more students in a day,” Tomiko states. “It’s much easier for students to just hop online than coming all the way to our office to meet with us.”

Highs and lows.
Student achievements are the biggest pleasure in both Carolina and Tomiko’s work day. “When I hear about a student who just got accepted to college or an alumni talking about a postsecondary plan, it lights me up,” says Carolina. Student achievements put everything into perspective and make the hard work worth it, both explain. The challenge to the job is trying to get everything urgent done and knowing when it’s time to close the computer. “Setting boundaries between work time and personal life time is tough especially since work is always in your home now. I find myself working longer hours since I don’t have to commute anymore. It’s a challenge to figure out when I can stop my work and restart the next day,” Carolina explains.

Teamwork makes the dream work.
Carolina and Tomiko have been working together for over four years. Although they each have their own student caseloads, they share resources, information and ideas with each other daily. Tomiko says, “We are also each other’s emotional support! We always have each other to confide in, plan with, and lean on in a stressful situation. It’s also been great during this tough time to connect with the CYD team at the other schools and share our experiences on how to engage our students.”

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