Students are out for Summer: Coordinators are Working Hard

The 2022-2023 School year is officially closed! The students enjoy the hot weather and time off; however, for those who work in our Asheville and Buncombe County Schools as staff and administrators, the race to prepare for the 2023-2024 School year has already begun. This included United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County Staff who work within our Community Schools across the county. For Community School coordinators, who report to the schools daily, their work during the summer revolves around making and deepening connections with the school staff. Along with this, they convene community and staff together to hear and dream of ideas on how Community School Coordinators, with access to United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County resources, can better support students during the school year. 

That is precisely what two of our newer Community School coordinators have been up to in Asheville Middle School and Reynolds Middle School. Steven Martinez has built a solid and supportive relationship with Jo Landreth, the Asheville Middle School Principal. 


“The relational part,” says Martinez, “ has to be there to make this all work because if it’s not, it’s like United Way doing its own things, and the district is doing its thing, and it’s like, how does it come together?” The relational part is exactly what Jo and Steve work on.

Although Martinez is less than a year into his role as Community School coordinator - prioritizing working with supportive administrators has allowed them to have space to dream of creative ways to get students, parents, and guardians more involved with the events and resources AMS offers- plans that will be implemented during the upcoming school year.  It also helps to have a principal who strongly supports the Community School model. “When the new superintended visited AMS, and I had 10-15 minutes in the building,” explained Landreth,” and the only thing I gave him was the graphic explaining the four pillars of Community Schools.” The mutual support of both Steven Martinez and Jo Landreth is essential in connecting resources and building a sustainable, supportive community.

These essential connections between Community School Coordinators and school staff don’t just allow space for dreaming but are actively working relationships. The UWABC Community School Coordinator is often seen as a school staff member because they assist in various ways.  Take Carrie Wagner, for example, she is the community School Coordinator at Reynolds Middle School. This summer, she is also working on listening to the staff and preparing resources to equip everyone for the upcoming school year better. As every Community School is different- because each need in the community that the school serves is unique to its population- Carrie Wagner works more closely with the counselors at Reynolds Middle. In an interview with Carrie and school counselors Kristin Keliher and Alison Rhodes, Carrie was often referred to as an honorary member of the counselor team. “We’ve identified a lot of holes in services for our students,” said Reynolds counselor Keliher, “and Carrie is hearing and listening to that and reaching out to the community to try and fill those holes. To try and bring in programs and people so that we have a more comprehensive stream of support for students.”

 Although connecting outside resources may not be the most immediately rewarding aspect of being a Community School Coordinator- it certainly is one of the most essential. Simply stated, “As far as our jobs, it frees us up to do more crisis work with the kids,” said counselor Alison Rhodes. 

Connections that will bring in more extensive support and build community are just a few of the projects Community School Coordinators will work on as the students enjoy the summer break. Once the 2023-2024 school year begins- the Coordinators will build upon the strong foundations of their staff and administrator relationships to bring ideas and events to life with the student and family population.


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