Myers-Wilkins Elementary School was Duluth’s founding community school, beginning in 1998 when Myers-Wilkins was known as Grant Elementary School. It began as a true community effort focused on the Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS) pillar of expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities. After school and summer program was identified as a need in the community, and the Collaborative was formed to fill that gap. We still offer after school and summer programs, including Compass, Terrific Tuesdays and Thurzday Thrills, Imagination Station, and Hillside Youth Theatre. Please reach out if you are interested in participating in our site leadership team, or volunteering or partnering with our programs.
Lincoln Park Middle School
Lincoln Park began implementing the community school model in 2016. Its journey towards becoming a full-service community school was rooted in the desire of Myers-Wilkins families, staff, and community members for a continuum of support as students transitioned from elementary to middle school. Lincoln Park staff and stakeholders laid the groundwork through focus groups and efforts related to the FSCS pillar of Family and Community Engagement. We offer support for academic and social-emotional learning for students, and also work with families to reduce barriers to attendance. Our site leadership team provides perspective and guidance as we integrate our work with Lincoln Park’s continuous improvement process. Reach out if you are interested in participating.
Denfeld High School
Denfeld became a Full Service Community School in 2017 with a grant from Minnesota Department of Education. Currently we are executing the 3-year strategic plan which was created by the Denfeld Full-Service Community Schools Site Team. Goals of this plan are 1) increase graduation rates, 2) increase health and wellness, 3) increase engagement, and 4) plan for a community center building near the school to house additional FSCS services and activities. The Denfeld Community School Site Team is always looking for committed members to join and give input to this ongoing process of evaluating and developing our Full-Service Community School. If this interests you, we would love to have you join us.
Four Pillars of Full-Service Community Schools
Full-Service Community Schools is the national model that the Duluth Community School Collaborative follows. The Full-Service Community School Model is based on four “pillars,” or four key components. These components include Integrated Student Supports, Expanded and Enriched Learning time and Opportunity, Active Family and Community Engagement, and Collaborative Leadership and Practice. Below is more information on the Collaborative's implementation of these four pillars. If you are interested in reading more about the four pillars in general, read this article or watch this video.
Integrated Student Supports
Community schools take a “whole-child” approach to supporting students’ educational and life success. This means that we pay explicit attention to students’ social and emotional development, health, and academic learning because we know they are all interconnected; children must have their basic needs, health needs, and social and emotional needs met in order to reach their full academic potential.
DCSC coordinates on-site services to support students in overcoming a range of barriers to educational and life success. Services are unique to each school based on the specific needs of the students and community, and may include access to medical, dental, and mental health care services; tutoring and other academic supports. Our schools are also developing restorative practices to reduce punitive disciplinary actions such as suspensions.
Expanded and Enriched Learning Time and Opportunities
Expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities, the second pillar of community schools, are essential to schools’ capacity to support students’ academic growth, as well as to help them develop socially, emotionally, and physically. In addition to supporting student-focused instruction in classrooms, community schools provide students with additional after school and summer learning time.
In our community schools, educators collaborate with the DCSC and community partners to provide learning activities during out-of-school time and summer, using school facilities and other community spaces. This approach makes clear that enriched learning time is the responsibility of both schools and communities. Programs vary, depending on community priorities, and include arts, physical activity, small group and individualized academic support, and hands-on learning activities.
Active Family and Community Engagement
Active family and community engagement—the third pillar of community schools—is essential to fostering relationships of trust and respect between the school and the community. Our community schools prioritize meaningful and ongoing connection with families and community members and establish the systems to make it happen.
Educators and other staff at community schools understand that engagement happens on a continuum—from partnering with parents to develop and promote a vision for student success, to offering courses, activities, and services for parents and community members, to creating structures and opportunities for shared leadership. Families and community members feel welcome, supported, and valued as essential partners.
DCSC engages families at our school-based community events, which build bridges between school and home. We also include parents and community members as leaders on our site teams, which set the goals and monitor the progress of the community school model at our schools. Families who are interested in learning more about events and serving on our site teams should join our Facebook group and sign up for our e-newsletter.
Collaborative Leadership and Practices
Collaborative leadership and practices, the fourth pillar of community schools, is foundational for the success of a community school. At our schools, we work to create environments for engagement of all stakeholders, including parents, teachers, school leaders, students, and community partners. Through open communication and shared responsibility, we create an inclusive environment that gives everyone room for input in planning and implementation of services. This both leverages the expertise of all partners, and creates the conditions for students to achieve.
Collaborative leadership and practices are central to the work of the professionals in our school buildings: teachers, administrators, non-teaching staff, and union leaders. Examples of this include professional learning communities, site-based teams charged with improving school policy and classroom teaching and learning, labor-management collaborations, and teacher development strategies, such as peer assistance and review.