Blog Post #13:  Barb Perry sees positive changes in the children in her life thanks to When Children Succeed, a project of the Social Innovation Fund

Building children up

When Children Succeed brings out the best in young students

The school year isn’t quite over and the research is pending, but Barb Perry, a relative and caregiver to a number of children at St. John the Baptist/King Edward School, in the South End, is convinced of the impacts of When Children Succeed.


“I love it,” Barb says. “I can’t wait to see what they do with the research.”


When Children Succeed is a demonstration project that aims to show that additional resources can help close poverty’s education gap. Twenty additional K-2 teachers and a speech-language pathologist have been assigned to schools in Saint John’s seven priority neighbourhoods to help students who need it most.


“If a child was lacking, this is the extra help they need to move forward,” Barb says. “I love the smaller classes because it gives that extra connection. They can start to build that child up.”


When Children Succeed is a partnership between ASD-South school district, the provincial Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Saint John’s Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative (BCAPI) and Living SJ. It is one of eight projects receiving support from the Social Innovation Fund, a five-year, $10-million provincial investment in creative ways of combating generational poverty in Saint John. The fund is managed by Living SJ.

A deep connection

Barb has a long association with the school. Her daughter went there and now the next generation of her family does, too. Barb volunteers in the lunch program and takes in a few local children after school.


She describes a boy she’s cared for since he was three as being extremely shy and irritable and struggling academically in the past.


“Due to the smaller classrooms, I see him wanting to read,” she says.


And his social skills are improving.


“The last couple of weeks he wouldn’t stop talking about his day. This is the first time that child has had enough confidence to talk,” Barb says. “Without the smaller classrooms, would we have seen that? My feeling is no, you wouldn’t.”

“If a child was lacking, this is the extra help they need to move forward.” 

- Barb Perry

“Anything that's able to build that connection, let's do it.”

- Barb Perry

Positive trickle-up


What happens in the earlier grades affects the older ones, too, Barb says. The trickle-up effect of more teachers and resources in K-2 helps free up others, such as a language-arts specialist who helps kids with reading.


Outside the classroom, Barb sees a ripple effect to students’ homes through Parents as Partners monthly sessions the school hosts for students and their parents and caregivers.


“Anything that’s able to build that connection, let’s do it,” she says. “There was a wall, and it was broken down. The barriers are broken because of the way these teachers respond to our children.”


Barb went to one of the sessions with one of her charges, who lead their activity and conversation.


“This is a child who would never make a decision for himself, who would never take control of a situation,” Barb says. “I’m so in awe of this. Here’s a child who would not do this a year ago, doing it.”

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