The purpose of this sample descriptive essay from Ultius is to highlight community schools and the impact they are having on our children.They say that it takes a village to raise a child. This fact has never been more true than it is today. With most households structured so that both parents have to work outside of the home, or in single parent households, often enough the school which a child attends becomes a second home.
The Daily Mail is reporting on the survey of 2,000 parents conducted by Virgin Holidays and Universal Orlando Resort found that the average family spends less than a half hour of quality time together during the week with work schedules, chores, and school routines devouring most of their time together. (Brinkman) This is why it is very important that we focus on the quality of activities, resources, and opportunities that children are receiving at school. This is where the concept of community schools come into play.
What is a community school?
Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities. Community schools tend to have a bit more academic freedom in which to achieve results. Partners also work to achieve these results: Children are ready to enter school; students attend school consistently; students are actively involved in learning… (Coalition for Community Schools)
You may be asking yourself what a community school is. Though this is not an entirely new concept, community schools have been evolving in the U.S. recently. The Coalition for Community Schools defines them as:
A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.
Some of the resources community schools offer include:
- High quality early learning programs
- Remedial education
- Family engagement
- Family literacy
- Community service and service learning opportunities
- Primary health and dental care
- Mental health services (U.S. Department of Education)
As you can see, community schools are quite comprehensive and offer a unique set of benefits that conventional schools, and home-schooling are lacking in.
National community school models
There are many community school models that have been gaining a lot of attention over the last few years. These models exemplify what community schools stand for and how they are helping students, parents, and the community. These model schools include:
A. Beacon Schools – Youth Development Institute:
Beacons are committed to school transformation that aims to promote healthy development and learning among ALL youth, families and community members.
B. The Children’s Aid Society Community Schools:
Launched in 1992, the Children’s Aid model aims to combine the best educational practices with the delivery of an array of social, health, child and youth development services, while also emphasizing community and parental involvement.
C. Communities In Schools, Inc.:
Communities In Schools, Inc. (CIS) is a nationwide network of passionate professionals working in public schools to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.
D. Center for Mental Health in Schools: An Enabling Component to Address Barriers to Learning:
Based particularly on the work of several comprehensive initiatives, it is becoming increasingly evident that there is a need to expand school reform. Several of these initiatives are restructuring education support programs under the umbrella of a newly conceived reform component that focuses directly on addressing barriers to learning and development.
E. University Assisted Community Schools:
The Netter Center for Community Partnerships, based out of the University of Pennsylvania, is a national partner in the community schools movement. Their University-Assisted Community School Program engages students (K-16+) in real world, community problem solving that is integrated into the school curriculum as well as through extended day programs.
F. Schools of the 21st Century:
The School of the 21st Century (21C) is a model for school-based child care and family support services. (Coalition for Community Schools)
Most popular partnerships and grants
Let’s talk partnerships and grants. Without these learning partnerships and grants like the one from Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, community schools would not be possible. Sometimes the rigor in which educators and school administrators deal with each day with their students can cause a breakdown in the attention they need. Learning partnerships can help school officials with the challenges they face. These partnerships can:
- provide continuity of services across the day and year, easing school transitions and promoting improved attendance in after school programs
- facilitate access to a range of learning opportunities and developmental supports, providing opportunities for students and teachers alike to experiment with new approaches to teaching and learning
- facilitate information sharing about specific students to best support individual learning
- provide family members with alternative entry points into the school day to support their student’s learning (Little)
In regards to specific partners, there are many corporations that choose to reach out to community schools. Some of these partners include:
- Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
- Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation
- The James Irvine Foundation
- The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
- SCALE: Stanford Center for Assessment, Leadership and Equity (Envision Learning Partners)
These are just a few of the better known partners that have rallied around community schools, but there are many that have emerged on a local and state level to offer their help as well. David Kirp of the New York Times writes,
“The mission of community schools is to confront the dogged persistence of conditions like untreated asthma, vision and dental problems, and emotional trauma, which mar the lives of children in hardscrabble neighborhoods.”
Community School Awards
There are incentives given to schools choosing to participate in the Community Schools Coalition. These often come in the form of national awards programs. Schools must pass certain screening criteria in order to qualify for these awards. The two primary recognitions are:
Individual Community Schools:
- Must have been in operation for three years and have demonstrated success
- Each winning school, there will be three, will receive $1,000
Community School Initiatives:
- Joint efforts of schools and others stakeholders (e.g., local government, United Ways, foundations, higher education institutions and nonprofit community-based organizations) that have organized multiple community school sites with demonstrable results, and have demonstrated a strong commitment to going to scale with community schools across the community or school system.
- Each winning initiative, there will be two, will receive $2,500
Each award comes with a specific set of criteria and are entered using an application process.
How Community Schools Work
Though Community Schools have some outstanding benefits, they are very intricate and complex machines. They operate off of a set of principles and philosophies unlike what is seen in the general school population, and without discrimination within education. The first set of principles are known as the ABC’s. They are:
- A: Align out of school time with class learning
- B: Bring communities, families, and schools together
- C: Coordinate resources for children and families (The Federation of Community Schools)
They also operate off of four pillars of support. These pillars are:
- Academic Development
- Healthy Minds and Bodies
- Family Support and Engagement
- Community Engagement (The Federation of Community Schools)
It is plain to see that everyone within a child’s direct environment play a huge role in their educational development and should actively engage in their best interests.
As we noted at the beginning of this discussion, it takes a village to raise a child. Community schools offer just that. While addressing a student’s educational needs, community schools also actively engage the community, parents, primary health and mental health needs, as well as service opportunities. These resources prepare students for the classrooms that lay ahead in addition to the real world skills they will need later. Global corporations are already offering up their resources to aid in these growing coalitions by supporting community school initiatives, much in the same way Ultius offers resources to support you when writing. National model schools are proving that education does not have to end when children leave the classroom. It is important that we support community schools and develop more in order to foster healthy, well-rounded students.
Brinkman, S. “» Submit New Age Questions Here.” Women of Grace. N.p., 2013. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
Coalition for Community Schools. “National Awards for Excellence.” National Awards for Excellence. N.p., 2016. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
Coalition for Community Schools. “National Models.” National Models. N.p., 2016. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
Coalition for Community Schools. “What Is a Community School?” What Is a Community School? N.p., 2016. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
Envision Learning Partners. “Main Menu.” Envision Learning Partners. N.p., 2012. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
Little, Priscilla. “School-Community Learning Partnerships: Essential to Expanded Learning Success.” Expanded Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
The Federation for Community Schools. “Community School Transformation: A Guide for Schools, Districts, Parents, and Community Members.” N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
U.S. Department of Education. “Full-Service Community Schools Program.” Full-Service Community Schools Program. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
Kirp, David. “To Teach a Child to Read, First Give Him Glasses” The New York Times. New York Times. Web. 8 Aug. 2016
Chandler, Michael Alison. “Mayor announces grants for two new community schools in the District” Washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post. Web. 21 Oct. 2015
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