Back to School: A Letter from Michael Roberts

Michael Roberts with student and counselor
Michael Roberts with CYD counselor Anansa Benbow and student Vanessa C.

Dear friends,

Welcome back! Our students and staff have returned to school in person and I am witnessing the mix of emotions that characterizes this transitional time: elation, excitement, and a little trepidation – but mostly joy for us all to be back as a community again. With strict health protocols in place, we are all masked, staff is vaccinated, and daily health screenings are happening at all sites. We believe it will be a safe and joyous school year.

CYD’s focus now is to rebuild on two levels: to rebuild our community and to rebuild the aspirations of our young people, many of whom deferred post-secondary planning during COVID-19. We’re working hard now to connect them with college, training, and employment opportunities. The pandemic has been a time of incredible challenges but with great challenges come great opportunities. Online learning was a positive development for students who appreciated the flexibility around their work schedules. Recent alumni could stay in touch from new locations. After-school tutoring and parent-teacher conferences conducted over Zoom were very successful. We are applying the lessons of the past year so that we can evolve in ways that work well for everyone.

The past year and a half brought our differences into sharp focus – but here at CYD, it also brought people together. Because our staff has forged trusting and empowering relationships with students, we were able to keep building those relationships during the shutdown. We stayed connected with our students. We listened to them. We even sought their advice on how we could best maintain contact with their peers during the quarantine. We watched with pride as they developed agency and leadership. And we amplified their voices by asking them to submit writing pieces, which we’ll be sharing with you next month.

In re-engaging with our community, I have realized that the perfect theme for us this year is GOING FORWARD. We may not know exactly what’s on the other side, but with our return to school we can celebrate coming together at last, excited to take on the year ahead.

At this time, our students need your support more than ever. I am so appreciative of all of you, and of the entire CYD family – our students, staff, Board members, funders, and partners. Thank you!

michael roberts signature
Michael Roberts
Executive Director, Comprehensive Youth Development

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