It’s a new year, which means that it’s time for new Site Coordinator Snapshots! Each week, we will be profiling an amazing site coordinator and the work he or she does to help kids stay in school and succeed in life.
Communities In Schools of Greater Phoenix is the recipient of an AT&T grant, which enables affiliates to hire amazing site coordinators like Erich Monfort.
“I am known as the Justin Bieber of Andalucia Middle School,” said Erich Monfort, site coordinator for Communities In Schools of Greater Phoenix in Arizona.
It’s not his perfectly coiffed hair that makes Erich like the Biebs, but rather it’s his rock star status among staff and students at Andalucia and Communities In Schools of Greater Phoenix. Since starting his job a year ago, he has been credited with transforming the lives of his students and positively impacting the community.
“To me, he is really a testament to what a site coordinator should be,” said Lloyd Hopkins, regional director of Communities In Schools of Greater Phoenix. “Erich’s creative, thinks outside of the box and has the ability to build great rapport with students and faculty. He’s such a soft-spoken guy that you underestimate him when you first meet him, but he has done such phenomenal things.”
The community that Erich serves has a predominantly Hispanic population. Many belong to families whose first language is not English, making it difficult for both parents and students to access community resources.
This lack of access translates into many families struggling to afford rent, food and other basic needs. One of the first things Erich did upon coming to Andalucia was organize a program that would help provide his students with food, hygiene products, clothing and even glasses.
“I feel like sending the kids home with food and clothing really helps the parents out when they are trying to afford rent,” he said. Erich went a step further with a holiday food drive he organized in November, which provided food to 30 families for Thanksgiving.
Erich’s role sometimes extends beyond serving the students and families of Andalucia to making the local community a more inviting, safer environment, too.
Many buildings within the school’s surrounding neighborhood are defaced by graffiti, a trademark of the area’s local gang activity. Erich created the Graffiti Busters program, where he recruits students to spend a Saturday cleaning up the neighborhood.
It’s programs like the Graffiti Busters and the food bank that make Erich such a vital part of the Andalucia community. Lloyd says that Erich is able to connect with his students on a deep level, showing the entire school community how a one-on-one relationship can be truly transformative.
“He really has shown that if you put a positive influence in these kids’ lives, and connect them to the right resources, change happens,” said Lloyd.