Town Hall Focuses on Partnerships to Support Youths

Superintendent Jonathan Raymond (left) and the 

Honorable Jared R. Rice

As part of the ongoing commitment to connect youth in the school district with information and community resources, City of New Rochelle School District Superintendent Jonathan Raymond’s Town Hall meeting last month featured New Rochelle City Court Judge and New Rochelle High School Class of ’97 graduate, the Hon. Jared R. Rice. The meeting addressed innovative juvenile justice programs, youth violence, and other issues of importance to our families and community. It was facilitated by Board of Education Vice President Adina Berrios Brooks and was viewable on Zoom.


Judge Rice is a long-time youth advocate and spearheaded the Youth Opportunity Part, a city court program designed to give at-risk young people a second chance to avoid becoming system-involved with mentoring, career training, and counseling. Rice spoke about the brain science of youth and the impulsiveness that can get them into trouble with the law. He emphasized the importance of building connections for students and providing the supports necessary to get them through “transient immaturity,” the period before adulthood when poor decision-making can have lifelong negative impact.


Rice said he was “thrilled” to learn that the school district is going to take the lead on the My Brother’s Keeper program, working in partnership with City of New Rochelle administration. The program takes a cradle-to-career approach to improving life outcomes and expanding opportunities for all youth, especially young men of color. 


Superintendent Raymond spoke about the importance of partnerships in providing students and families the supports necessary for success and well-being. “We are a community resource rich with intellectual, social, and fiscal capital,” said Raymond, but there’s a divide. We need to bring humanity into the equation.” 


Noting that wellness and unfinished learning are two of the school district’s priorities this year, Raymond said social and emotional learning are especially critical as students and families cope with the challenges of COVID-19. “We are teaching our young people how to make good decisions, control emotions, and develop a sense of identity,” he said.


Among other topics discussed:


• Teaching young people how to resolve conflicts and manage anger.


• The importance of restorative justice in bringing people together. Restorative circles have been introduced in the high school to prevent small situations from escalating into violence in the streets.


• Reintroducing the DARE (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) program, or a similar initiative. 


• Offering English as a Second Language programs for families and creating a parent and family university.


• Expanding after school, Saturday, and summer programs.


• Facilitating collaboration between the schools’ PTAs.


• Leveraging partnerships with community organizations.


• Working with local businesses to expand mentorships, internships, and work-study opportunities.


• Making school facilities more available to the community.


• Providing more theater, dance, music, and art opportunities in the elementary and middle schools.


“I know that parents are doing the best they can for their children and want the very best for them,” said Raymond. “We need to have empathy for our parents and families and must come together as a community to support them in every way.” 


The next Town Hall will be held on Tuesday, March 15.