‘Lots of smiling faces’
Carlos Chavez, the co-president of the parent association at PS 14 in Corona, Queens, says the school is a “hidden gem.”
“The teachers care about the students and community, and they’re welcoming and give the kids a good education and create a place for them to just go be children,” he said.
The family resource fair on Saturday, Oct. 14, reaffirmed for Chavez why he appreciates his children’s school. More than 400 PS 14 family members and students checked out information booths from 15 partner organizations, participated in activities like board games and dancing, and benefited from book giveaways and free flu shots.
The fair was organized with the help of the UFT’s United Community Schools (UCS) initiative, which brings educators, parents and students together to identify unmet needs in each school community and, leveraging preexisting local resources, provides wraparound services to fulfill those needs.
Kristen La Perla, the UFT chapter leader at PS 14, was happy to see “lots of smiling faces” and a “fun, celebratory atmosphere” as multiple generations of students, alumni and parents gathered.
She recalled the long road that led to PS 14 becoming a UCS school, which started during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, when many of the students’ families were facing income loss and hunger. PS 14 forged a partnership with PS 19, another UCS school in Corona, to organize food banks. In the intervening years, the two elementary schools have continued to share knowledge and resources.
“It’s been helpful to see something so hopeful come out of something so negative,” said La Perla.
Among the stewards of the partnership between the schools were six parent volunteers from PS 19 who spent their Saturday helping run PS 14’s event. Allison Brown, the UCS senior community school director at PS 14, who transferred from PS 19, said these parents could “speak from experience,” recommending services like a local dental clinic where their own children get dental care.
The fair was initially intended to be outdoors, but it moved inside due to heavy rain. Chavez said this responsiveness is typical of the school’s ability to “bend and not break” when it encounters challenges like budget cuts or an influx of students from asylum-seeking families.
“I’m glad my children have this school,” he said.