John Marshall High School

A Community Connection March 2021

Community Champion

If you are looking for a student who is a champion for her community, you will find one such super star in John Marshall junior, Reese Rutherford! When Reese sees a need, she strives to find a way to address it - and so far, no challenge has been too great for her. Her most recent milestone was to champion, along with two fellow classmates, a local Her Drive. A Her Drive is focused on collecting and distributing feminine hygiene products, bra, and cleansing items. Reese and her partners set a record of 35,243 items, including 862 bras and underwear, 25464 menstrual care products, and 8917 general hygiene items! In addition to this, Reese is instrumental in sharing student voice related to Community School initiatives, carrying out plans, and keeping the Rocket Community Room up and running. Reese serves on our Community School Leadership Team and has given her input on many new ideas ... including one that is happening right now - the installation of a student washer and dryer on-site at JM. She serves on our JM Community Schools social media team and helps to maintain our Instagram site (ROCKETCOMMROOM). Additionally she participates in many leadership roles through Community Schools, as well as the greater Rochester community. And lastly, she has volunteered to come in during her lunch and open hours during Distance Learning to help maintain the Rocket Community Room. I tease Reese that I dread the day she graduates because she is my right-hand-girl in all things related to Community Schools.

JM Alumni Answered the Call

The word went out that John Marshall was in need of some financial support, and John Marshall alumni answered the call. As our building is furiously working to prepare for the return of our students, we fully understand that different kids, and different grade levels, will need different things from us. One focus has been on our freshman students ... most of whom have not set foot in John Marshall this school year. We've been brainstorming and preparing ways to make them feel welcome. Make them know right away - we are SO happy you are here. Make them instantly feel that rocket spirit and pride. One way we decided to do this was to have students create a 'homecoming' t-shirt, but knew that we wanted to be able to purchase one for every student and give it to them on their first day of school of April 5th. I was tasked with finding funding, and my first turn was to a very active social media site - the John Marshall Alumni Facebook page with over 4500 members. I put out an ask, and less than two weeks later, the entire project was funded, almost entirely by JM Alumni individual and business owners ... recent graduates all the way to our more veteran graduates. Alumni living in Rochester to alumni living across the country. One alumni left me a voice message with the good news and ended it by saying, 'Once a Rocket, Always a Rocket" and this came through loud and clear in the generosity of our JM Alumni.

New Partnership Kicks Off

What do you get when you combine the forces of John Marshall students + Gage Elementary students + youth from Rochester Community Initiative + the Rochester Diversity Council + the United Way of Olmsted County? You get a fantastic new partnership that benefits loads of Rochester youth! Last school year, both John Marshall and Gage Elementary Community Schools underwent a comprehensive needs assessment to hear the voices of our many stakeholders. One thing that arose from members at both schools was the desire for increased interactions between our elementary students and our high school students ... and that gave rise to a mentorship program between the two schools. This year our mentorship program, like everything, had to adapt and the students met virtually through Google Meets. Each of the groups plays an important role in making this relationship possible: John Marshall students are serving as the high school mentors. Gage students are serving as the mentees who are growing in leadership and social awareness. Rochester Youth Initiative youth are creating and delivering content curriculum surrounding topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Diversity Council of Rochester is providing mentor training and support. And finally, the United Way is serving as our funding partner. Here was some feedback from the first sessions:

Student: "I want to be a kind hi schooler like all of you."

Student: "You guys are good with explaining."

Student: "I learned that everyone's personality is different but we should all be treated equally."

Gage teacher, "We had our first full group mentor meeting with the JM high school students and RCI students this am. What a first-class group of student leaders! They did such a great job of presenting the theme and opening up a space for the 4th and 5th grade Spanish immersion students to share...My students will definitely be looking forward to more time together with their newfound high school school friends."

Our goals in supporting this program is to increase the capacity of student leaders, build positive relationships between younger and older students, and empower students to see their roles in creating a positive social climate for everyone. We intend to keep building upon this partnership as we move forward and cannot wait to see where it will take all of us!

Get to Know Rodney Sharp ... Equity Specialist

Meet Rodney Sharp, a person who somehow manages to juggle working at eight different schools and creating great connections with kids at the same time. Rodney is the Equity Specialist for John Marshall, as well as all of the elementary and middle schools that feed into JM. Rodney, a JM graduate, has worked for the Rochester School District for 10 years in a variety of capacities: paraprofessional, coach, Summer of Service staff, Sennah Foundation and finally, all of those experiences culminating in his role now as an Equity Specialist. While our district Equity Specialists have many responsibilities, the primary one is to serve as a bridge between families and schools, and give students a voice. During this past year, while supporting students and families during a unique time of distance learning, Rodney did countless 'outdoor' home visits each week ... even through the coldest days of winter. One mom was surprised when Rodney showed up for a visit on a particularly freezing cold day. And, true to Rodney's reliable and compassionate character, he replied that of course he was there - he had made a commitment to her child to show up that day. I recently heard Rodney present at a family engagement event, and one thing that really resonated with me was his discussion around making genuine connections with families and students, without always having an agenda. Sometimes, as educators, many of our interactions with families can be around things that need improvement and plans for doing that. Rodney continues to build trusting relationships with students and families but just simply being there - learning about their family. Their interests. Their needs. Their community involvement. I have the pleasure of sharing a working space with Rodney and can attest first hand to the genuine desire he has on a daily basis to connect with kids and the people that are important in their lives - caregivers, siblings, teachers, and other school staff. When Rodney is not at work, you can find him spending time with his wife, Blair, and his four year old son, Kyus, going to the park, biking or playing sports. We are so fortunate to have Rodney in our district!

Black History Month - Student Reflections

As a continuation of our Social Media series called In My Shoes, we featured submissions from students on their reflections of Black History Month, and what it means to them individually. We shared these out through our own Community Schools Instagram Site (ROCKETCOMMROOM), but participant and JM senior, Rahkalah Marshall, had the great idea of broadening our audience and sharing them with elementary schools. We reached out to our elementary and middle school feeder schools, and the response was overwhelmingly positive - they would LOVE to have the videos to share and utilize with their students in a whole variety of ways. Each video is only one minute, so I hope you can carve time to listen to all of them, as each student opens up and uses her voice.

We NEED your help re-stocking our Rocket Community Room

With the return of students to John Marshall campus on April 5th, we need to re-stock our Rocket Community Room so we are ready to support them. The Rocket Community Room is a resource open to all JM students, and they can access many items there: food, clothing, seasonal items, school supplies, hygiene items, and sometimes other specialty items upon request. All items in the room have been donated by the community and are at no cost to students. Please use the SignUpGenius link provided below to see what items we are currently in need of for our Community Room. If the item is not listed on the link, we are currently not in need of it. Thank you in advance for helping us prepare to welcome back our students!

New Space Works to Reduce Barriers

Over the winter months, work was being down on the ground floor of John Marshall renovating a space to a NEW student laundry and hygiene area. We know that when students do not have access to clean clothing or regular shower facilities, that this can impact outcomes such as attendance and social engagement. These facilities are open to all JM students. A huge thank you to the groups that helped fund and make this resource possible - Rochester Public Schools, Leadership Greater Rochester and an anonymous donor from Rochester Area Foundation.

JM Beats Lab Recording Tracks

Our NEW JM Beats Lab, through our 21st Century Grant Partner, has been meeting virtually, learning a lot, and recording music together. This is an opportunity open to all John Marshall students, and new members can join at any time. If your student is interested, please have them enroll in the link below (it is free and virtual this school year).



Rocket 'Homecoming' Shirt Donors:

Superior Screeners
Rochester Commercial Banks

Midwest Flooring Solutions

Michelle Broadwater Gappa - Farmers Insurance

Jason Ogilvie Home Care & Repair

Dave Kinneberg Compass Real Estate Group at Remax Results

Additional Donors:

United Way of Olmsted County
St. Luke's Episcopal Church

Rochester Area Foundation - anonymous donor

Leadership Greater Rochester

Individual community members

Her Drive

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church