Saraiya Piantek is the Duluth Community School Collaborative's newest staff member. She began her position as Full-Service Community School Site Coordinator at Denfeld High School in October. You can find her bio on our Who We Are page, and here is a bit more info so that you can get to know Saraiya.
Q: How did you connect with the Collaborative initially?
A: My last position before coming to the Collaborative was with YWCA Girl Power!. In that position I coordinated with Men as Peacemakers and DCSC to bring more programming in for girls and students of color. That is where I learned what the Collaborative was all about.
Q: What are some of your past experiences that inform or support your position now?
A: As a Denfeld Graduate, I struggled in school like many of our students due to basic needs not being met at home. Knowing what I needed as a youth and being able to relate to students and problem solve what they need personally, before even thinking about school work, is very important to me. We have to take care of the whole child for them to succeed in school.
In 2012 I began working at the Lincoln Park Boys and Girls Club where I started my work with youth in a nonprofit setting. I built relationships with our community youth and learned what it meant to create a safe place where the child's needs can be met. In 2017 I started working at Northwood Children's Services where I grew in my knowledge of mental health and behavior management; I learned how to keep students safe when they can't keep themselves safe. All of these experiences led me to working for the Collaborative. In this role I can support our youth in being mentally and physically healthy, safe, and feeling heard and cared about.
Q: Why is this job and/or organization important to you?
A: Being the FSCS Coordinator at Defeld is important to me because youth who experience instability of basic needs need somebody in their school who can connect them to the resources they need to live to their full potential. More than that, their families need adequate resources so they can have a supportive environment at home too.