December 7, 2011 CCSA's geographically-dispersed staff meet twice a year for all-staff retreats, focusing on strategic planning and action, identifying opportunities for cross-team collaboration, and building a common understanding on important issues facing the movement. The retreats help CCSA identify how to maximize successes, respond to challenges facing charters and to accomplish the Association's strategic goals. Building on a successful addition to last fall's all-staff agenda, staff this year participated in service projects that benefited three Orange County charter schools: El Sol, Edward B. Cole and Orange County Educational Arts Academy.
We sat down with Fiorella Del Carpio, director, Parent and Community Engagement with Families That Can, to get her impressions of the service project.
Which school did you visit?
Orange County Educational Arts Academy Charter School (OCEAA)
What project did you participate in?
I helped with gift wrapping boxes for Christmas food give-a-away. The school used to have an annual food collection drive during the holidays that would benefit a local food bank in their community, but they heard from their own families that they would benefit themselves from those boxes. Their new tradition is now collecting food for their own families.
I also assisted in OCEAA's library, coding books that were donated from local libraries and organizations in preparation for putting the books into circulation.
What were your impressions of the school?
Even though the staff was really busy doing their work assignments and assisting students that were interrupting them with questions, they were all so welcoming. The school was amazing and clean. When gift wrapping in the cafeteria, I witnessed a student walking through campus; she saw a wrapper on the floor, picked it up, threw it away and went about her way. I know it seems insignificant, but it just showed me how she took pride in keeping her school clean.
What did you enjoy about participating in the service project?
It was amazing and inspiring how much we all did together as a team in a short amount of time. We cleaned a garden, fashionably wrapped all boxes for their family food gifts, cleaned and organized their arts and crafts room, and coded ALL of the books donated to their library.
Do you think your having participated in this project will influence your work for Families That Can?
The service project made me stop for a second and recall all the meetings, activities, and reports that we work on a continuous basis to support the passionate teachers/staff and students at school sites likes these. I felt re-energized when leaving the school.