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Eye On Education: Siblings Project Modeled After Facebook Founder's Program

BOSTON (CBS) - Two Boston schools, one charter and one traditional, have teamed up with the health centers nearby to make sure younger siblings are school-ready before they even walk through the door in September, and there's an interesting connection to Facebook.

"Sureya is a four-year-old and what we can do to make sure her mind and body are ready to be in a school space," said Codman Academy Director of Student Services Pamela Casna.

Next Fall Sureya Omer will join her older siblings at Codman Academy, a charter school in Dorchester.

Her mother Fatima attended special parent meetings all year designed to prepare younger siblings for the upcoming year. Fatima grew up in Saudi Arabia and met her husband, who is from Somalia, at a refugee camp in Turkey where they lived for ten years before arriving in Boston. The team at Codman have seen how committed Fatima is to attending the parent meetings - she believes success for her children in the United States depends on their success in school.

This is a pilot program at Codman and the Hurley School, a district school in the South End.

It's modeled after a program started by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, at their school in Palo Alto, California.

Social workers, teachers and doctors meet with parents to talk about issues like nutrition, sleep and discipline strategies.

"They are just really aware of the different things that are available to them because mom has learned about them in group, talked about them at home, and then it comes in to school," said Casna.

"Schools and the medical providers for children actually have exactly the same goal, which is to grow and support the development of a really healthy kid," said Codman Square Health Center Pediatrician Dr. Genevieve Daftery. "I think that parents already have a lot on their plate and they're not at school the whole day so in some way you get more granular information when I'm able to communicate that easily with the school."

At the Hurley School, they call it "The Siblings Project".

"They are going to come in to K1 at an advantage already feeling a part of the school," said Hurley School Family Outreach Coordinator Karen Gonzalez.

The program is funded by the Boston non-profit EdVentures.

The doctor added that the school nurse is a nurse from the health center so that they can be a point person on information about a child.

Everyone's working as a team to help each family.

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