When adults talk about their high school experience, many mention people: the teachers, administrators, counselors, and support staff who took the time to connect with them and get to really know them. That connection is what people remember about school. That connection is what keeps kids coming to school when outside forces and influences make that difficult. In order keep students in school and provide the modeling and support necessary for them to graduate and become productive citizens, we have to focus on the relationships we build with them. Once students know that someone cares about them, they will do what they need to do to succeed.
Many programs that work to reduce dropout rates and improve student performance provide money and resources. Of course these are necessary in today’s struggling schools, but Communities In Schools takes the necessary next step to ensure that the money and resources make a difference. Communities in Schools places full time staff in the school environment to work directly with students. Our staff are the faces that students see in their hallways every day. They become the day to day support students need to be successful in the classroom and the community.
Communities in Schools employs a five-step program model that has helped more than a million students stay in school and achieve success, involving: 1) needs assessment; 2) planning; 3) integrated student supports; 4) monitoring and adjustment; and 5) evaluation.
Communities in Schools hires and trains site coordinators to work with existing school administrators to assess needs, develop a plan, and build a team to provide support to schools and students. Together with community collaborative partners, site coordinators and school administrators use multiple points of data to assess the needs of the school wide community as well as individual student needs.
Because Communities in Schools is active within the school building, students are quickly and easily identified as at risk or in need. In response to these needs, Communities in Schools provides students and their families with a variety of supports. These may be academic or mental health supports or basic needs supports like housing, food, or supplies.
Being there day to day allows Communities in Schools to monitor student progress and conduct continual needs analysis. The students know the Communities in Schools partners and they trust that they will be there. This piece is what makes the difference for students. Once a student’s immediate needs are met, site coordinators can continue to support them in new ways.
The effectiveness of the program is clear: 93% of students in Communities in Schools programs graduate from high school. Kids are at the center of this program and that is why it is successful. When students know they are valued and that people care about their success, they will care about themselves and work hard to succeed.
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