The Community School Model

Immense potential in every child and every community

As parents, educators, and community members, we know that young people are too often held back from reaching their potential by factors beyond their control. As public schools are increasingly underfunded and under pressure, we looked to a bottom-up, strengths-based approach to school improvement.

Community Schools are “addicted to problem-solving,” deeply aware of the particularities of their local community, and use whole-child, research-based and innovative practices to achieve results that go beyond test scores. Community Schools leverage social relationships, small businesses, nonprofits and universities to address barriers to learning (hunger, stress, mistrust, insecure housing, lack of medical care) so that every child’s full attention is available to learn, inquire, try, and grow.

In community schools, as in all schools, teachers teach and students learn—but with a focus on the whole child: an integrated focus. This integrated approach encompasses many new features: before and after school programs beyond the traditional extracurricular and athletic programs; learning opportunities for family and community members; and health and wellness support. Partnerships with community organizations and businesses broaden the educational and experiential scope of learning, making the school a hub of community activity.

Ultimately, the success of the community school model depends on collaborative leadership from administrators, teachers, support staff, families, youth, and community partners. If we agree that a “whole-child” approach is necessary, we are faced with the task of organizing our entire community around supporting public schools to achieve this vision. In the face of constant “defaming and defunding” of public education, we choose to take matters into our own hands and rally community resources to meet the needs of our kids.

For more information on the Community School model, here are some resources we recommend:

NEA Resource Guide for Educators, Families, and Communities

Community Schools Standards

“Transforming Struggling Schools Into Thriving Schools” – Center for Popular Democracy report, including case studies

Durham Board of Education Resolution in Support of Piloting the Community School Model in Durham Public Schools