Recreating Connection Virtually at Enka Middle School


Co-Creating Virtual Support Systems to Engage Students This School Year

Our work with both Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools within our local Community Schools is shape-shifting alongside the changing needs of this time. With in-person mentorship no longer possible this school year, our Community School Coordinators are shifting gears to find creative ways to virtually connect with students, families, and school staff.



United Way Community School Coordinator Ginny Spencer Eudy recently sent a survey to all Enka Middle School students asking them their interest and ability in joining virtual clubs, an integral support system in maintaining connection outside of the virtual classroom. Ensuring that actions taken and programs created stem from student and parent voice is one of the core pillars of the community school strategy-- critical to co-creating and strengthening ties within the school and community.

Learn more about Community Schools here.


Reconfiguring Connection...

"Almost 200 kids said yes, they'd be interested in joining an online club," says Eudy. "So I'm working to figure out what that looks like in carving out that time in their day, not only for clubs but for mentoring groups as well."

United Way and Enka Middle has long-standing partnerships with Journeymen, Big Brothers Big Sisters WNC, and YMCA of WNC, providing one-on-one and group student mentorship throughout the school year, which is reconfiguring to find its footing as well in the virtual space.

"Connection is going to be really important to keep kids engaged," says Eudy. "It's much harder to feel that connection through a computer screen, so we just have to think about things differently together and we are."


Restorative Practices Training + Practice in a Virtual World

In addition to student mentorship, supportive clubs, and additional support systems, Enka Middle School is in its second year implementing Restorative Practices, which focuses on strengthening relationships between individuals and cultivating social connections within the community.United Way has facilitated Restorative Practice trainings with Kerry Berkowitz, a national leader in the school-based implementation of them. (*Photo to the left of last year's training in-person in the United Way building)


"Restorative Practices are just as important, if not more critical, now more than ever," says Eudy. Enka Middle staff are moving into their second stage of RP implementation, which then shifts into building responsive circles, focused on how teachers handle disruption in-person and online while making sure that students feel heard, met, and part of the community  while addressing those disruptions. We're facilitating virtual Restorative Practices trainings this fall, which Enka Middle staff are attending to further their education and practice in.

Each of these layers are critical components in co-creating a more equitable community for students, families, and teachers at Enka Middle. This is a Community School in action.

Stay Connected!