Helping Families Adapt to Online Learning

When Bonnie Kisielewski and her family participated in Chicago Commons programming through a partnership with her elementary school, she couldn’t have imagined the social services organization would still play a significant role in her life decades later.

“My connection to Chicago Commons is quite the story! I attended a Chicago Commons pre-school, and my family used to attend the family summer camp before I joined the organization as a camp employee and then as a teacher after college,” said Bonnie.

In her current role as the Education, Diverse Learner & Mental Health Compliance Manager, Bonnie provides technical assistance and training to the education staff in the areas of education, disabilities and mental health. Her work helps teachers achieve excellence in their overall education practices. Bonnie fulfills a dual role as she is also an adjunct instructor in the Child Development Department at the City Colleges of Chicago, which allows her to use her experience in education as an instructor for the Chicago Commons Pathways for Parents Program.

“One thing I really like about my job is how I have opportunities to collaborate with my colleagues, teaching staff, families, and even external organizations. It’s also an opportunity for me to learn from others and continue to grow professionally.”

“The Pathways for Parents program specifically has given me the opportunity to see parents and community members begin a career path that positions them to really improve their lives and their family's lives. It also empowers them to become leaders in the early childhood education field. It has been really rewarding to see their progress from day one to the day they finish the program.”

Like other educational institutions across the country, Chicago Commons was faced with the challenge of transitioning its education programs to an online environment as a result of the statewide stay-at-home order in March 2020. The team adapted to supporting families in a different capacity to ensure everyone had the proper support and resources they needed.

“A more recent learning experience for me has been navigating work and teaching entirely online. I had about five days to learn how to navigate new digital tools for online teaching and ensure students had the right equipment to access the classes. It was a short turnaround but I’m proud of our team for quickly and successfully shifting everything in that timeline,” added Bonnie.

“I've had the wonderful opportunity of working at Chicago Commons for over 31 years, which has also allowed me to see the long-term outcomes of our work. I’ve seen our families and many of my previous children that I’ve taught grow, graduate college, begin careers, and improve their lives. Seeing the actual impact continues to inspire me,” said Bonnie. “Sometimes people comment about how I’ve worked here for so many years, and I always point out how I truly love every part of my career because I’m inspired by our impact and the constant opportunities to learn more.”

“I’m proud of the Chicago Commons team for providing supplemental support for rent, food and baby supplies to over 500 families. Our team really tried to ensure everyone’s needs were met, in addition to helping families adapt to online learning.”

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