Community School 55 – Bringing the Community Into the School
Community school 55 is in one of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods, a place with high rates of childhood obesity, diabetes and heart disease, poverty and unemployment. The school addresses these issues by bringing community resources into the building.
The School Quality Snapshot offers families a glimpse of what it’s like inside the school.
Collaborative School Governance
The success of any governance model depends on building relationships, from the superintendent to teachers. Regardless of the type of board, successful boards put time and effort into strengthening these connections.
The focus group discussion also magnified the issues relating to collaboration between principals, teacher governors and parent governors. It emerged that principals think that parents and educators are too illiterate to understand their policies and they do not attend the school governing body (SGB) meetings when invited.
This is problematic as effective collaboration requires a high level of stakeholder participation and leadership. It is important to establish designated times and processes to sustain these partnerships. This can be achieved through establishing representative site-based leadership teams that include students, families, and community members as well as school staff and union representatives. These teams can guide collaborative planning, implementation and oversight. They can also provide opportunities for continuous learning and support system-wide capacity building. This will help to ensure that stakeholders remain engaged in their responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Expanded Learning Time
Adding time for learning outside of regular school hours is one of the research-based pillars of community schools. This strategy allows for more individualized instruction, more time to practice core academic skills and enrichment activities that make learning relevant and engaging. It also gives teachers critical time to collaborate on effective instruction that aligns with standards.
A key step is to articulate a vision for expanded learning and refine what you hope to achieve through community partnerships and enrichments. This will help district staff, families and community partners understand the purpose of these partnerships and how they fit into your school’s broader strategy.
The New York Times visited P.S. 55 to meet students like Kasiyah Daley, a first grader who had breakthrough reading lessons with teacher Vanessa Veerasammy. The paper also toured Success Academy, a public charter school co-located at CS 55 in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. It was clear that the facilities at these two schools are not co-equal.
Health & Dental Services
Our dental clinic provides comprehensive oral care for children and adults, providing dental cleanings, fluoride treatments, x-rays, fillings, extractions and preventive services. Services are offered at a low cost to patients with insurance or through a sliding fee scale for those without coverage. Services are provided by dental hygiene students under the supervision of a licensed dentist.
Our school-based health program offers care for common illnesses like strep throat, as well as vaccinations and screenings for vision and hearing. Students can also receive counseling and mental health services.
The programs in community schools vary from model to model and site to site, but most include extra learning opportunities through after-school enrichment and adult education, family engagement services and health and dental care. Research shows that such programs increase academic performance, and help families and communities address economic and social challenges that impact student learning.iii iv
The conditions that promote positive youth development include supportive relationships, healthy peer groups, involvement in school and community activities, and a sense of hope. Youth who have these experiences are more likely to avoid risky behaviors that compromise their health, including drug and alcohol use, unintended pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS.
In addition to providing the necessary environment for youth to thrive, programs that promote positive youth development should also provide opportunities for leadership and skills-building. One way to do this is by involving youth in needs assessment and planning processes. For example, the Boston-based group Youth Lead the Change engaged young people to identify resources that are needed in their communities and develop ideas for community projects.
A growing number of organizations are implementing positive youth development strategies in their community programs and schools. These approaches offer a fresh alternative to traditional approaches that rely on punitive measures for dealing with problems like delinquency and violence.