California Educator

February/March 2023

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evenings; with Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County to provide preventative dental care to students and dental health education to parents; with Second Harvest Food Bank to host a monthly, free farmers market, and with Orange County Human Relations to embed restorative justice practices into all aspects of our school operations, from the classroom to the cafeteria, administration and beyond." The community schools model adheres to overarching principles that invest in systems, not silos. Interven- tions are tailored to personal student needs, whether those challenges are social-emotional, food insecurity, lan- guage acquisition, special needs, or need for other specialized family services. It is both microtargeting and delivery based on specific needs that makes the program transformational, say its proponents. Presenters at the meeting also pointed out that key to the success in Anaheim is dedicated human resources that help coordinate the program's many moving parts at each site. Community school coordinators work side-by-side daily with site educators and support personnel, administrators, com- munity partners, students and others. They are embedded in the community and most are former students of the local school they serve. "We're looking to serve our children and our families holis- tically because we know they can't leave who they are at the door," said Araceli Huerta, Sycamore's community school coordinator. "We want to make sure that we're creating the conditions they need to thrive." Among their responsibilities, coordinators manage the events calendar, direct parents and students to community services, operate on-site food pantries and secure local donations. They co-lead school advisory committee meetings and keep all sides informed on progress and ongoing needs. Another side of this critical partnership is the community school teacher lead on each site. This relationship ensures that each site has trained, trauma-informed educators who are committed to developing trusting and collaborative relationships with students, families and community mem- bers. They encourage career pathway development with industry experts in and outside the classroom. Jemma Rodriguez, teacher lead at Sycamore, believes that staff buy-in has been high because the model is mak- ing a difference. " Through the community school strategy, we are taking care of the whole child. For instance, a single student has received on-site services such as mental health counseling, holiday and winter clothing sponsorship through the school's 'Angel Tree' and con- flict mediation through restorative justice practices within the classroom. The same student's family has also been referred to the resource center where they have received guidance and resource connec- tions for legal matters and other basic needs, such as food and school uniforms." Another axiom in Anaheim is that community school programs should sup- plement, not supplant, existing city services. Understanding and linking parents and students to local programs strength- ens ties and builds community at both ends while avoiding duplication of effort. At Sycamore, parents have access to a small food bank, but provisions for addressing long-term food insecurity, as well as health care, immigration services and other needs, are directed out by staff to local and regional government providers. Ensuring that every program is a value-added measure makes for more abundant services and is not a means for justifying cuts and reductions. In this way, every site can maximize resources according to their needs. For AUHSD and the members of ASTA, the commitment to community schools is long-term. District officials see positive signs of progress as parents and students become recon- nected to their local schools in the post-pandemic era. And confidence is strong among union members that this shared power model has the potential for transformational change throughout the public school system. "This process has more potential to transform public education than anything I have seen in my 30 years of teaching." —Grant Shuster ASTA President Grant Shuster talks about Anaheim's community school work. Community organizations sponsor a farmers market at Sycamore Junior High. Part of the day's meeting included discussion with Sycamore Junior High community school staff. 25 F E B R U A R Y / M A R C H 2 0 2 3

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