WHAT IS A COMMUNITY SCHOOL?
A community school unites the most important influences in a child’s life – school, families, and communities – to create a network that supports their development toward productive adulthood. Although there is no single uniform model, community schools share a common vision to “create an integrated set of learning opportunities, physically and socially.” (University of Central Florida, College of Health and Public Affairs) Through partnerships with key resource providers, the school serves as a center for health care, social services, enrichment opportunities, and other support to students, families and the community. Recent studies of community schools in operation for five years or longer have demonstrated higher standardized reading and math scores, increased rates of attendance and greater parent engagement. (University of Central Florida, College of Health and Public Affairs)
In the fall of 2016, inspired by work of the UCF Center for Community Schools, a group of interested citizens from across Polk County began exploring the potential of transitioning a public school to a community school.
EXPLORING COMMUNITY SCHOOLS LEAD TEAM
Working collaboratively with Polk County Public Schools, Polk Vision established the group as a LEAD Team. Over a period of 9 months, the Team attended information sessions, reviewed research and coordinated visits to successful community schools operating in Orange and Hillsborough counties. During this process, the Team met with representatives from UCF, community school principals, key partners in social services and healthcare, as well as community school staff members.
A meticulous process was followed to determine which of the 73 Polk County elementary schools had the best chance for success as the county’s first community school. Sub-committees were established to independently evaluate and rank objective data.
The committees’ work encompassed factors such as school grades, transportation numbers, free & reduced lunch rates, teacher retention rates, suspensions, expulsions and feeder patterns as well as the locations, building capacity, sidewalks, parking, public transportation, and the potential for expansion.
In the coming months, the work of the Team will be focused on developing a comprehensive model implementation plan and solidifying community partnerships and resources.
"Crystal Lake Elementary Community School - Community Engagement Grant Recipient"
Team members review data on a number of factors in order to identify which elementary schools in Polk had the best chance of succeeding as a community school.
During a July work session, the Team submitted its findings to the Polk County School Board. Board members selected Crystal Lake Elementary as the community schools pilot.
Community School Team
Ed Shoemaker, Ph.D. - Co-Chair, Family and Education Intervention Services
John Small - Co-Chair, Polk County Public Schools
Leslie Allore - Community Volunteer
Marcia Andresen - Polk County BoCC
Deborah Badertscher - Polk County Public Schools
Melony Bell - Polk County BoCC
Penny Borgia - United Way of Central Florida
Wendy Bradshaw - Children’s Home Society
Carolyn Bridges - Polk County Public Schools
Creigh Brown - Community Volunteer
Marianne Capoziello - Polk Education Association
Ann Claussen - Central Florida Health Care
Sheryl Cooper - Florida Department of Health in Polk County
Susan Copeland - Polk Education Foundation
Pam Craven, Ph.D. - Learning Resource Center
Jeanette Crowley - Polk County Public Schools
Kim Daugherty - Heartland for Children
Rob Davis - Polk County Public Schools
Tammy Durden - Florida Department of Health in Polk County
Dr. Michael Ham-Ying - Central Florida Health Care
Kelly Hansell - Polk County Public Schools
Debbie Henderson - Polk County Public Schools
Wanda Howard - Polk County NAACP
Dr. Joy Jackson - Florida Department of Health in Polk County
Joy Johnson - Polk County BoCC
Jenna Kaczmarski - Polk County Public Schools
Loretta Lee - WISP Community
Jenna Levine - Florida Department of Health in Polk County
Doug Lockwood - Straughn & Turner, P.A
Maria Longa - Polk County Public Schools
Colleen Mangan - Florida Department of Health in Polk County
Lisa Martin - Community Volunteer
Lori Martini - GiveWell Community Foundation
Jim Maxwell - Polk County Public Schools
Eliza McCall-Home - Children’s Home Society
Donald Painter - Polk State College
Lauren Parkes - Lakeland Regional Health
Dawn Robertson - Polk County Public Schools
Teri Saunders - Heartland for Children
Hazel Sellers - Polk County School Board
Cory Skeates - Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce
Lana Swartzwelder - Sylvan Learning Centers
Jane Waters-Thomas - Community Volunteer
Lea Ann Thomas - Polk County BoCC
Alyssia Totten - Lanier Upshaw, Inc.
Michelle Townley - Polk County Public Schools
Becky Troutman - Community Volunteer
Katie Worthington - Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce
Dee Dee Wright - Polk County Public Schools
Kathleen Wright - Polk County Public Schools