Like most parents in 2020, Belkis Moya suddenly became the “principal” of her home when her children started virtual schooling in response to the coronavirus pandemic. She worried how the challenges of the pandemic would impact her children’s ability to learn and achieve … and how she would be able to support them along the way.

“I’m not a teacher and English isn’t my first language, but lessons and homework are in English,” said Belkis.

But Belkis knew she had a unique support system behind her with the Community Partnership Schools™ model. Mort, Elementary, A Community Partnership School provides support to students and their families both inside and outside of the classroom.

Belkis’ daughter, Brithany, is a student at Mort and participates in the school’s after-school program to help her keep up with her classes and find new opportunities for enrichment.

“With Mort’s extra activities my daughter gets help with her math, writing and reading,” said Belkis. “She also does virtual Yoga classes and takes elective Spanish classes to help with her fluency in the language. It’s helpful, but it’s also so much more than tutoring — the after-school activities provide an outlet for my daughter to be social, laugh and have fun. Even though we’re at home all day, she has an outlet and she is happy.”

The Community Partnership Schools™ model at Mort also features a Parent Resource Center where parents can find accessible mental health counseling, healthcare, clothing, food and more. Parents at Mort also find community and fellowship among each other.

“I have met moms going through similar situations as me and we have become friends after spending time together at the Parent Resource Center at Mort,” said Belkis.

COVID-19 restrictions stop parents from coming on to campus, so the parent resource center adapted to continue to provide support.

“Now we can find everything on Facebook and it’s so amazing. They provide family activities, videos of stories we can watch together and every Thursday I can safely pick-up food supplies for the week,” said Belkis.

The Moya family is looking forward to the day they can be reunited with their Mort community in-person – when things go back to “normal.”

“I need to work, my children miss their friends and they want to see their teachers. When my daughter was sent home in March, she never even got to say goodbye to her first grade teacher,” said Belkis.” But at Mort, we don’t need to envy private schools because we have everything we could need and it’s the people that really make the difference. I love Mort. Love. Love. Love,” said Belkis.

Now – more than ever – the Community Partnership Schools™ model at Mort Elementary is providing families a safe space to find support and help their children succeed both inside and outside of the classroom.

Mort Elementary, A Community Partnership School is a long-term collaboration among Children’s Home Society of Florida, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa Family Health Centers, University Area CDC, Tampa Innovation Partnership and University of South Florida.

Together, core partners work within the school to address key barriers to learning including poverty, food insecurity, lack of affordable healthcare and mental health care and more.