Communities in Schools of
BACKGROUND ON COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS:
In recent years, the education field has come to recognize the role of schools as not only an academic institution, but also important in supporting student health, safety, and well‐being by developing integrated student support initiatives. These initiatives offer specific services and supports to students and their families to build a foundation for academic success. Referred to as community schools and wraparound supports as well as integrated student supports models, these initiatives help schools connect struggling children with secure housing, medical care, food assistance, tutoring, and other critical supports.
Teachers and school administrators who interact with children daily know that nonacademic issues can undermine academic success, because how can you concentrate and learn if you are hungry, scared, tired because you have no bed to sleep in, or dirty, or all of these? Research increasingly supports these practitioners’ insight by confirming that nonacademic factors in a young person’s life influence their ability to concentrate, learn, process information, and behave well in class. This, in turn, influences academic and life success as well as overall well‐being. Students who suffer from poor physical or mental health, who are homeless, who experience instability at home, or who come to school hungry do less well in school than students who feel safe and secure.
Our site coordinator fills a pivotal role as the single point of contact working inside the school coordinating and providing integrated student supports. They work with school leadership and staff to connect students and families with community resources that help to address both academic and nonacademic needs, allowing students to show up healthy, safe, and prepared to learn.
Through conversations with school leadership and review of school improvement plans, the CIS affiliate, site coordinator and their school support team work to align goals that best meet the needs of the students, avoiding duplication and overlap of supports. When site coordinators actually begin providing supports, they collaborate with community partners and businesses to recruit volunteers for tutoring programs, build up clothing closets with support from local businesses or connect struggling families with much-needed medical attention – just to name a few.
Here at Communities in Schools of Greenbrier County, we find that when we bring the right people to the table, we are able to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.