Fishbowl serves new purpose


Amanda Roth

Confronting challenges– Open Choice Student Coordinator Lauren Allen-Jones sup- ports a student during his lunch period. Allen-Jones has been the district Open Choice Student Coordinator but will move on due to budget cuts for next year.

Stefan Izydorczak, Arts and Entertainment Editor

In the school’s cafeteria, students are accustomed to seeing a large glass room. The room, better known as the Fishbowl after the fishes once painted on it, has been the office for the Open Choice Student Coordinator Lauren Allen-Jones. Due to district budget cuts, the Open Choice Student Coordinator position has been removed for next year.

“I will miss the students, both the little ones and the high school students. The students and families in Open Choice often face unique obstacles. Together we worked to overcome them; that is personally fulfilling. I love my job and have a lot respect for the 130 plus families that entrusted Farmington to provide their child with one of connections to my students by ask the best educations in the state,” Allen-Jones said.

Open Choice is a program that offers Hartford students the opportunity to attend nearby suburban schools. Farmington is one of 27 suburban towns in this program. Allen-Jones has been the coordinator for the past three years and has to support students in all seven schools as they face challenges throughout the day.

“I am not a teacher I do not have any classes, I just work as a support system for Open Choice students. I will teach them to advocate for themselves with the services that are offered in school,” Jones said.

While Jones helps guide Open Choice students manage appointments and access support services, she has been a source of moral support for students.

“The Fishbowl is a place where my students feel connected so, possibly because it is small and intimate, unlike the cafeteria. I try to follow up on making personal connections to my students by asking them how their days are going. I am just another adult voice that they can speak to,” Jones said.

Sophomore Micah Smith is a student who often visited Allen-Jones in the Fishbowl for support.

“The Fishbowl has always been a place where I can go to help for social advice or school advice. If I ever need a quiet place to finish my school work, Ms. Jones will close the door and help me finish up my work,” Smith said.

Allen-Jones anticipates working in a similar role in the future working with students in underserved communities.

“I believe their zip code should not determine their access to quality education. You don’t have to go too far from Farmington where that is the case,” Allen-Jones said.

According to Principal Bill Silva, currently, there is no decision as to how the Fishbowl will be used.

“We are looking at all our office spaces and deciding how best to use them next year, and we haven’t made a decision on that particular office as of yet,” Silva said.