Community schools serve and benefit everyone

By Gini Pupo-Walker, Director of Parent & Community Partnerships On any given day at Glencliff High School, you can walk in and find a so many different partnerships at work: English language classes for adults, families seeking care at the school-based clinic, students working with academy partners on engineering projects or working together in the school garden.

Glencliff is a nationally recognized Community School. It has become the central focus of its community and a source of pride for students, parents, and neighbors. This type of school transformation requires thoughtful planning, partnerships and the commitment of an entire community. Glencliff was able to create a structure and culture that ensured conditions for learning were in place.

We have 16 more schools in MNPS now ready to follow Glencliff’s lead and develop their own Community Schools. Principals and staff recognize that their schools are integral parts of their communities. Reinforcing the link will bring resources to address the factors that inhibit their students’ success.

Today at Antioch High School, they joined Dr. Register and other leaders to celebrate the launch of Community Achieves, Nashville’s Community School initiative. Metro Schools, working with many community partners, has created a framework and process for aligning resources around four key areas:

  1. Family Engagement
  2. Health and Wellness
  3. Social Services
  4. College and Career Readiness

Nashville is rich with resources and has a strong tradition of community pride. We are poised to come together around Community Achieves and rethink the way we engage with the schools in our neighborhoods.

The Community School approach is the happening in many large urban schools and districts, bringing together parents, communities, teachers, and school leaders. The notion is not new. It’s one that Jane Addams employed in her Settlement Houses in Chicago in the 1880’s.

Today the results are remarkable for high performing Community Schools:

  • reduced mobility
  • higher achievement
  • engaged students
  • empowered parents
  • involved community organizations and civic leaders

Community schools enjoy stronger parent-teacher relation­ships, increased teacher satisfaction, a more posi­tive school environment, and greater community support. Families of community school students show increased fam­ily stability, communication with teachers, school involvement, and a greater sense of responsibil­ity for their children’s learning. The community school model promotes more efficient use of school buildings and, as a result, neighborhoods enjoy increased security, heightened community pride, and better rapport among students and residents.

The concept of the community school, and the inspiration behind Community Achieves, is growing in part because it represents a vehicle for aligning the assets of students, families, teachers, and the community around a common goal: improving the success of our young people.

Our vision for Community Achieves is that many more schools look like Glencliff High School, transforming themselves into places that serve and respect the whole child, the family and the community. The time is right for this important work to begin.