What is a community school? Plain English. No buzzwords.
The best way to begin to understand a community school is to first understand what they’re trying to achieve.
The goal of community schools is to improve students’ lives as a whole. Achieving that goal involves strengthening 6 key areas: curriculum, teaching, inclusive leadership, strong positive relationships, and fostering family, community partnerships, and community support services. I’ll break down each of them below.
- Rigorous, culturally relevant material.
- Embrace all subject areas including arts, second languages, and physical education.
- Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate offered.
- Before and after-school activities.
- Needs of parents and families addressed through English-as-a-second-language classes, GED preparation, and job training programs.
- Teachers who are licensed, knowledgeable, and skilled in their practice.
- A focus on learning rather than testing.
- Student learning opportunities are designed on an individual level.
- Students are pushed to develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and reasoning skills.
- Experienced educators mentor novice educators
3. Inclusive leadership
- Community school leadership works with school staff, partners, and families to improve sustainability and efficiency within the school.
4. Strong positive relationships.
- Community school educators work to build positive relationships and interactions.
- Negative behaviors such as truancy are addressed to hold the student accountable while showing them they are valued members of the school community.
- Peer mediation, community service, and post-conflict resolution help students learn while maintaining a positive school climate.
- Zero-tolerance practices leading to suspension and expulsion are avoided.
5. Community partnerships
- Community schools will partners with families, caregivers, and community members to increase students engagement
6. Community Support Services
- Community schools provide meals, health care, mental-health counseling, and other services before, during, and after school.
Community schools have been proven to lower rates of absenteeism, improve grades and test scores, and push graduation rates higher. The community school model has improved the lives of millions of students nationwide over the past decade.