Giving thanks and understanding students’ needs – Episode 29

The holidays can be hard on anyone, but especially students whose families are struggling to satisfy life’s basic needs: food, shelter and clothing.

Today’s guests offer insight into the lives of our students experiencing homelessness and they provide some helpful tips to consider when planning supports.

Becky Watson, Walker Middle School principal, and Christine Cleveland, Homeless and Migrant Education senior administrator, are knowledgable and passionate about helping these underserved students. You won’t regret spending a half hour listening and learning from them.

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Click to play The Florida Project trailer

Central Florida’s affordable housing crisis forces many families with little or no credit to choose hotel living. While it is a fictional story, The Florida Project delivers a glimpse into what many of our families living in hotels experience.

In September, The Washington Post published, “A pandemic, a motel without power and a potentially terrifying glimpse of Orlando’s future.” The story features a 17-year-old student and the hardships of a family living together in one room. Understanding the stresses students experience outside of school can help educators know how to best support them.

For those listeners and readers who are in a position to help financially, you can visit the Foundation for OCPS’s donation page and choose “Area of Greatest need,” “Homeless Education Fund,” “Holiday Drive” or any of the other listed areas to assist in the way that best fulfills your intentions.

Resources available to OCPS students/families

OCPS Supports – This survey is a one-stop shop for OCPS families to receive social service, mental health, and/or homeless education supports.  After completing a quick survey of needs, a staff member from the specific department will reach out to the family within 48 hours.

OCPS McKinney Vento – Resources and information on student rights for families in housing transition.

OCPS Migrant Education – Resources and information on supports for students with parents who move frequently due to work in agriculture or dairy industries.

General Email for any questions of Migrant or MVP programs:  helphomeless@ocps.net

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ABOUT THE GUESTS – (This episode was recorded Nov. 19, 2020)

Becky Watson headshot

Rebecca “Becky” Watson is in her fourth year serving as principal of Walker Middle School, a Title 1 school. She attended and/or worked in the following schools and departments: Rolling Hills ES, Meadowbrook MS, Evans HS, West Orange HS, Sadler ES, Professional Development Services and Oak Ridge HS. She is a proud OCPS and UCF alumna. Becky and her husband, Terry, have four children, all of whom have or are attending OCPS schools. Her daughter, Chloe, is an English teacher at Jones HS where she is in her fourth year teaching. Teaching and education is a passion in the Watson household. Becky considers it an incredible privilege to serve the students, families and staff of Walker MS.

Christine Cleveland is the Homeless and Migrant Education senior administrator. She has been with OCPS for seven years.

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