CCVA’s Watts joins MD as Service Learning Coordinator


Harper Rosenberg, Staff Writer

After four years in the the Center for Community Values and Action (CCVA), CCVA Program Associate Conasia Watts ‘13 took on a new role this year as the Middle Division (MD) Service Learning (SL) Coordinator.

Watts will help develop service learning programming for sixth through eighth grade students. MD students will explore a new service-learning model and have the opportunity to interact with some of the CCVA’s community partners such as Riverdale Senior Service, Riverdale Neighborhood House, and Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, Watts wrote in an email.

Watts worked with MD students at the school before taking on the new position when she coached the MD Field Hockey team last year and helped previous Service-Learning Coordinator Caitlin Hickerson run HM Lead’s Service Elective. Last year, the CCVA and MD program also hosted a carnival with the school’s community partners, an extension of the MD end-of-year carnival, so Watts had some experience working with MD students through that program.

Currently there is no MD Service Learning team, but eighth grade students will have the opportunity to join one of the Upper Division Service Learning Teams (HM246) this fall, Watts wrote. “Eighth grade students will work with UD Fellows to help facilitate electives with our Community Partners.”

In both sixth and seventh grade, MD students will partake in service learning initiatives within their advisory groups, Watts wrote. For example, sixth grade students will explore the Bronx by working with the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, while seventh grade students learn about food sovereignty by working with an array of local Bronx Community Fridges, she wrote. 

Eighth grade students will complete two service learning initiatives, Watts wrote. “During the week of October 3, I will be hosting a pop-up in the Atrium where students (in all grades) can stop by to create bookmarks, help sort books, and create hygiene kits and craft kits that will be donated to the Friendly Fridge — a grassroots community fridge located right down the hill next to the one train,” she wrote. Events like this will fulfill the eighth grade service requirement. Similar pop-up events occur the first two weeks of every month during D, E, and I periods.

Watts will send out a survey in the coming weeks to gauge student interest to be part of the Service Learning curriculum. She will send another iteration of the survey to MD faculty and staff to collaborate with teachers who engage in service learning outside of school. “I am excited to hear about other faculty members’ takes on service-learning and look forward to potentially introducing new community partners,” Watts wrote. 

Once he arrived at the school in 2019, Head of MD Javaid Khan was involved in a number of discussions regarding how CCVA could be more directly involved with the MD, Khan wrote. After Hickerson left the school, he met with the CCVA to figure out next steps. Those in charge of the committee quickly came to the conclusion that it was time for the CCVA to oversee both divisions, and Ms. Watts would be responsible for the MD, Khan wrote. “We will continue to create an impact on the HM and greater Bronx community by building off of the great work done by so many HM educators before her arrival,” Khan said. 

The biggest hope for MD’s CCVA this year is to reconnect with many of their partner programs in person, Khan wrote. It has been a challenge during COVID, as many of their guidelines were restrictive to visitors, he wrote. “We are expecting that to open up!”

Khan believes Watts will bring fresh ideas and positive energy to the MD, he wrote. “We will continue to create an impact on the HM and greater Bronx community by building off of the great work done by so many HM educators before her arrival,” Khan wrote. “We could not be happier — she is dynamo!”