Supporting Student Success
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.
Who is involved?
United Community was chosen to be the lead community partner and employs a Community School Coordinator at each school. FCPS identified the schools for the pilot project and is participating on a school and system level for possible future expansion.United Way of the National Capital Area is providing 2 years of 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.
Current FCPS Community Schools
Walt Whitman MS
7th & 8th graders
59% free/reduced lunch
21% English learners
Robust afterschool program
Support staff incl. school social worker, psychologist, counselors, parent liaison,afterschool specialist
Mount Vernon Woods ES
Pre-K - 6th graders
90% free/reduced lunch
48% English learners
Support staff incl. school social worker, psychologist, counselors, parent liaison, Department of Family Services social worker provides case management
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
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