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Every community school looks slightly different, because it is developed through mutually beneficial partnerships with students, families, community agencies, businesses, and residents that are unique to that community.

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Stakeholder Symposia - 2013

Chronic Absenteeism and Community Schools
August 16, 2013 from 9:00 am - 12:00 noon

We all know that children can't learn if they aren't in school.  But absenteeism is more complicated than just average daily attendance rate.  Join us on August 16 as we explore chronic absenteeism, its causes, and effective intervention strategies.   
At this Symposium you will learn about: 

  • Chronic absenteeism and the data that is available to help you better understand the issue in your school;
  • The myths of chronic absenteeism and its true underlying causes;
  • Strategies for educating parents about the issue of chronic absenteeism and for engaging them as allies in efforts to decrease chronic absenteeism; and,
  • Strategies for establishing the habit of attendance and connecting students and families to necessary resources.
Registration is requiredClick here for more information and to register.

Community Schools & Child and Adolescent Trauma
On Friday, April 26th seventy community school practitioners, school administrators, mental health professionals and others gathered to explore how trauma affects a young person's development and the ways in which community schools can respond to mitigate these effects.  The morning started with a presentation by Jeff Levy, CTRS, LCSW, in which he set the stage for our conversation by defining trauma and ways in which youth are exposed to violence and trauma, how the effects of trauma manifest themselves in the behavior of young people, and how trauma impacts psychosocial and neurophysiological development. Following Levy's presentation, a panel of practitioners, including Tegan Camden, LCPC (Clinical Coordinator for Children's Home Association of Illinois), Kasheryl Thomas (Resource Coordinator for Family Focus / Hirsch High School) and Patricia Berry (Student Assistance Center Consultant, Prevention First) shared their approaches to supporting young people that are displaying the effects of trauma.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this important discussion. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with you; please keep an eye out for information about follow-up sessions on this topic.

The materials and resources shared by all of presenters can now be found below.  (Please also see below for more information about Student Assistance and how you can implement this program at your community school).

Community Schools & Workforce Development
On Friday, January 25, community school and workforce development professionals came together to explore linkages between our efforts that can strengthen everyone's work.  During the symposium, we discussed the ways in which community schools are poised to help youth explore their interests and talents, expose them to opportunities beyond their immediate cultural framework, and develop the social and interpersonal skills needed for post-secondary success.  The group also talked about the ways in which community schools can serve as an ideal infrastructure for providing adults with work readiness opportunities - either by offering programs at the school or connecting them to existing programs in the community.  
Read a recap of this symposium, including key learning, ideas for next steps, and a list of resources for practitioners, students, and families here

Community Schools & Common Core: Resource for Understanding and Reinforcing New Learning Standards

Illinois, and almost every other state in the country, is making the shift to Common Core State Standards. The new standards are aimed at ensuring that children and young people develop necessary critical thinking, analytical, problem-solving, and learning skills, and are prepared to do increasingly rigorous academic work as their educational careers progress.

Undertaking activities that support students' transition to Common Core Standards and prepare them for new items on the ISAT also offer opportunities to enhance some elements of your community school work. Because of the rigor of the new standards, out-of-school time programs must incorporate common core, as well.  This will require resource coordinators and community school teams to develop an understanding of the new standards, and to access supports that they can use to infuse out-of-school time activities with common core standards. 
Click here for a guide that aligns Common Core standards with classroom activities, out-of-school time programs, and parent workshops


There are several ways that community schools can support school progress through these changes:


1) Engage parents as partners in the transition to Common Core. Hold workshops about the new Common Core standards and about the changes to the ISAT; include this information in newsletters, updates, communications, etc. for parents. Also provide parents with tools and strategies that they can use to help their children with this transition - including activities that parents can do at home to reinforce the Common Core standards. For a guide to Common Core standards that can be used in parent workshops, click here.


2) Collaborate with teachers on ways to include activities in the extended day programs that give students opportunities to master the new Common Core reading standards.  Have students dramatize the stories they read or illustrate the social studies and science sections they read in the classroom; provide strategies for out-of-school time program staff to use "common core" language.  For an example of how to integrate Common Core standards into arts-based programming, click here.   


3) Work with teachers and staff to expand (or create) a math learning center in which students play games that reinforce the math knowledge they need on ISAT.  Use out-of-school time to provide expanded learning opportunities that are linked to the math Common Core standards being taught in the classroom. 


In collaboration with the Federation, the Polk Bros. Foundation Center for Urban Education has prepared resources for work with students in extended day programs and parent workshops that you can use to enhance your efforts around the transition to Common Core and provide students with ISAT support.
Have other ideas about how your community school colleagues can support the transition to and mastery of the new Common Core standards?  Share them with us here! 

Community School Garden Resources
In April resource coordinators gathered for a Resource Coordinator Luncheon at Reavis School that focused on the benefits of school gardens, including the positive impacts they can have on student engagement, social development, and learning. Representatives from the Chicago Botanic Gardens talked about their school garden program at Reavis School and other school- and community-based sites across the Chicagoland area. There are many resources that can help schools get started, including this list of curriculum and activities, teacher professional development and potential funding sources. This list also contains information that resource coordinators can provide to youth and families to locate farmers' markets across the City and to use LINK cards to double the value of purchases made at farmers' markets.

Student Assistance Programs
At our Stakeholder Symposium on Child and Adolescent Trauma, panelist Patricia Berry of Prevention First shared information about Student Assistance Programs (SAP) and how they can be implemented to help school staff respond effectively to students that may be displaying the effects of trauma or other mental health needs. SAP provide a comprehensive framework for creating a system of essential support for students. The Student Assistance Center at Prevention First provides free training, technical assistance, information, and tools to develop a comprehensive SAP team within a school. Each team develops a school wide approach to prevention and intervention efforts, a structured process of matching students with appropriate interventions, and a system to monitor student progress. 

SAP is an evidence-based system that utilizes a multi-disciplinary team composed of school staff which can include: resource coordinators, administrators, teachers, school counselors, school nurses and other support staff. This team creates universal prevention strategies, early identification and intervention for students who are struggling with non-cognitive barriers to learning, such as mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse, or other life issues.  Since community schools are structured to connect students and families to community resources, SAP can provide a framework for engaging more adults to identify students in need of additional supports.   
Students can be referred in a number of ways including by staff, self or friend referral. After a student has been identified, the team determines a course of action depending on the student's specific issues. SAP has proven to have a number of positive effects, including increasing students' performance in school, sense of self-worth, and ability to communicate and express feelings appropriately while also decreasing students' problem behaviors, dropout rates, discipline referrals and alcohol and drug use.   
Click here to learn more about Student Assistance in Illinois.  You can also email Dale Gasparovic or Kristie Shurtleff to learn about about implementing SAP at your school.

Can't find what you're looking for?
Contact Havilah Darnieder and let us know what tool or form you're looking for.