Community School FAQs
There is growing momentum behind community schools, yet there remains a lot of confusion about what community schools really are. The following pages should provity clarity about community schools generally, and provide insight on how the community school strategy is being adopted at East specifically. If you have any questions, please contact Jason Taylor, Community Coordinator, at Jason.Taylor@rcsdk12.org or (585) 288-3130 ext. 2178.
What is a Community School?
Community schools are a strategy for organizing community resources around scholar success. Community schools view scholar succcess holistically, including not only academic success but also social-emotional development, healthy living, safe and supportive communities, and life skills preparedness.
What are the main attributes of a Community School?
Community schools often differ because they are based on the unique needs and strengths of their local communities. However, most community schools have the same basic attributes. Most offer a rigorous instructional program, expanded learning opportunities, health care and social services, and an emphasis on family and community engagement.
Why do schools adopt the Community School strategy?
Public schools play an important societal role in providing a free education to any student, yet students come to school with their own individual backgrounds, strengths, and challenges. The community school strategy enables public schools to work collaboratively with their local communities in order to support the diversity of their student body. Through these collaborations, community schools have helped students achieve greater success while also reducing significant economic and social barriers.
Where did the idea for Community Schools come from?
The idea that schools, families, and communities should work together for the success of students is not new. Social reformers such as Jane Adams and educational reformers such as John Dewey promoted community school ideas over a hundered years ago. What's significant about community schools today is (1) there's a widespread and growing number of communities adopting similar educational visions of their schools as community schools and (2) there's a widespread and growing need for the types of services community schools provide in order to address economic and social challenges in the lives of young students.
Are any organizations leading the Community School strategy?
In the mid-1990s the Children's Aid Society and the New York City Department of Education started what have become recognized as the first modern community schools in the Washington Heights neighborhood. Now, on a national level, organizations such as The National Center for Community Schools and The Coalition for Community Schools provide leadership for the community school strategy. On a state level, the Governor's Office and New York State Department of Education have supported community schools. On a local level, there's also growing momentum in support of community schooling, such as from the Rochester City School District, ROC the Future, and more.
How do schools "become" a Community School?
There is no official induction ceremony or certificate awarded for schools to "become" a community school. "True" community schools have authentic and collaborative leadership and practice, meaning that at all levels of the school, particularly at the leadership level, educators, families, and community members are working in tandem for and sharing the accountability of the success of students. All of this is predicated on trusting relationships.
What aren't Community Schools?
Neighborhood schools are often confused with community schools. A neighborhood school is a school whose student body comes from neighborhoods geographically local to the school. While many community schools also happen to be neighborhood schools, or at least their strategies support geographically local neighborhoods, community schools are more expansive than neighborhood schools. Also, a school that has partnerships with community organizations is not necessarily a community school. Community schools are a strategy, and they are based on collaborative leadership and practice, not the sole existence of a few programs.
Where can I learn more about Community Schools?