Supporting Student Success
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What is a Community School?
A community school is a public school that effectively benefits from partnerships with community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities. Community Schools become centers of the community and are open to all, even outside of standard school hours.
Community Schools in Fairfax County
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and Fairfax County Neighborhood & Community Services (NCS) have been examining opportunities to implement Community Schools for many years. In 2016, the Board of Supervisors & School Board formed a work group to work towards pursuing the model. United Way came forward as a funder, in a joint effort with NCS, and spurred this pilot project. FCPS identified Walt Whitman MS and Mount Vernon Woods ES as the schools for the pilot project. Glasgow MS launched Community Schools in 2019 through the Communities in Schools organization.
Who is involved?
United Community was chosen to be the lead community partner for Walt Whitman MS and Mount Vernon Wood ES. Communities in Schools is the lead community partner for Glasgow Ms. Each community partner employs a Community School Coordinator at each school. FCPS is participating on a school and system level for possible future expansion. United Way of the National Capital Area is providing funding to United Community to support Walt Whitman MS based on their focus on middle school. Fairfax County NCS is incorporating the Community School model into Opportunity Neighborhood contracts and will provide ongoing funding to support both schools. The Coalition for Community Schools is providing technical support for all partners.
Multi-Tiered Evaluation - Spring 2022
In collaboration with the NCS, FCPS will administer a multi-tiered evaluation for the 2021-22 school year. The evaluation process will engage administrators, school staff, and school families associated with each community school through structured interviews and electronic surveys. The evaluation will be used to determine current Community School practices and its impact on the well-being of students and families. Results will be used to inform the Community School Implementation Framework for the 2022-23 school year.
Evaluation Methods will launch June 1, 2022 and include the following:
- Family Survey
- School Staff Survey
- School Site Survey
- Structured Interviews
Current FCPS Community Schools
Walt Whitman MS
7th & 8th graders
58% free/reduced lunch
25% English learners
Robust afterschool program
Support staff include school social worker, psychologist, counselors, family liaison, after school specialist
Mount Vernon Woods ES
Pre-K - 6th graders
66% free/reduced lunch
45% English learners
Support staff include school social worker, psychologist, counselors, family liaison, Department of Family Services social worker provides case management
6th, 7th, & 8th graders
66% free/reduced lunch
32% English learners
Support staff include school social worker, psychologist, counselors, family liaison
Key Components of a Community School
The Community School Coordinator works collaboratively with the school principal and other school support staff to design, develop and/or implement community school programming including:
- Family and student support services
- Health services
- Enrichment activities including those that occur during the school day, after school and summer
- Family and community engagement activities
- Community sponsorship, partnership, and volunteer infrastructure
Activities of a Community School
- Comprehensive needs assessment
- Identify students & families that need support
- Implement school-wide efforts to create a future-focused culture of achievement
- Increase parent engagement and education opportunities
- Increase community participation and support of the schools
- Establish mentoring program
- Case management and referrals to additional services