Local Leaders Present at 2018 Community Schools National Forum

The Coalition for Community Schools is convening the Community Schools National Forum May 2-4, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland and we're excited to be attending and presenting alongside administrators, educators and leaders from Asheville and Buncombe County. This Coalition is an alliance of national, state and local organizations in K-16 education, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services, government and philanthropy as well as national, state and local community school networks. 
Whew. It’s a mouthful we know, yet those collaborative partnerships are at the heart of what creates a community school. It’s an effort we’ve been helping to foster in Buncombe County alongside members of the Asheville Buncombe Middle Grades Network  - a network of more than 40 dedicated administrators, and nonprofits such as Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools, Children First Communities in Schools, the Buncombe County Graduation Initiative, In Real Life and more for the past three years.

So what exactly is a Community School?

The Coalition for Community Schools defines them as: both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. There are a number of national models and local community school initiatives that share a common set of principles: fostering strong partnerships, sharing accountability for results, setting high expectations, building on the community’s strengths, and embracing diversity and innovative solutions. 
Just four years ago, in 2014, our organization sent two staff members alongside a representative from the YMCA to the Community Schools National Forum to understand what that strategy looked like and bring pieces of it home to share with fellow nonprofits and administrators here in western North Carolina. We returned and helped implement many of those gleaned strategies alongside local partners working to alleviate the impact of poverty and identify needs, and provide resources in our city and county middle schools.

Middle School Success as a Community School Strategy

Alongside the members of the Asheville Buncombe Middle Grades Network, we’ve collectively employed strategies over the past two years as part of the overarching Middle School Success initiative utilizing the community school strategy. 
This year, we’re excited to attend the Community School National Forum alongside leaders from MAHEC, Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools and BCS Graduation Initiative, In Real Life, Buncombe County Community Engagement Team, and The Boys and Girls Club to learn from fellow practitioners, administrators, school systems and communities working to further employ these strategies. We’re also honored to be presenting the work we’re doing here in Asheville and Buncombe County during several conference sessions, including lessons we’re learning and and collaborative problem-solving techniques to address issues we’re tackling within our city and county schools and the community at large. 
We'll be sharing the following topics:
  • Challenges for immigrants/refugees in accessing services within the school settings and successful strategies that have been implemented within our own organizations
  • The growth of the Homework Diner--blueprints and lessons learned (we’re presenting alongside the team from Albuquerque NM, where Homework Diners originated)
  • Legal, interpersonal, and technical lessons learned in the implementation of a multi-district, multi-partner Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) that enables the early identification of students with high-school dropout indicators as well as data sharing, intervention monitoring, and collaborative problem-solving between schools and out-of-school time providers
  • Creating an equitable, high-quality community "after" school model that expands opportunities
  • The importance of Community School Coordinators and their role on the school site team
  • How health action plans can strengthen your local community schools and create healthier communities

A community school offers a refreshing vision of the roles parents and community can play in education as well as the role a school can play in its community. It’s primary goals are the education of children and their healthy development in childhood. Students are freer to learn because the school’s many services and supports work together to remove obstacles to their education; teachers can better focus on the curriculum because their students are healthier, have improved attendance and the supports they need to succeed in school and in life. 

DONATE to support Middle School Success.
Find opportunities to VOLUNTEER in the community. Homework Diners end May 7th/8th, 2018 for the spring season and will return again in the fall.