• Duluth Community School Collaborative

Community School Coordinators Appreciation Week: Denfeld High School

Updated: Sep 29

Angelina-Nustad Peluso has been the Denfeld Community School Coordinator at Denfeld since 2018. She was recently promoted to Program Director for the Collaborative, and until a new coordinator is hired, she is also the interim coordinator.


Q: What is something you’re working on with your school right now that you’re really excited about?


A: Last year, we expanded our ability to integrate our systems of student supports at Denfeld. Integrated student supports are a critical pillar of community schools, and my role in that process was to participate in various teams that currently exist at Denfeld. I also supported the development of more targeted teams that were needed to both inform and provide the integrated student support system. These teams are inclusive of parents and community partners as well as school staff. The relevant student data is reviewed and triaged by the appropriate team, and referred to existing supports, or used to help us identify supports that need to be developed in order to better serve our students' needs.  Now, because of COVID, integrating student supports is more important than ever. Since our work has begun in this area already, our teams are well positioned to begin outreach and targeted support efforts to students who we can identify through a more coordinated system. There's still a lot to do, but one example of this is using our data to identify students at high risk of dropout during distance learning, coordinate individual outreach to those students, and offer a menu of re-engagement options that prioritize the needs and wants of the individual students. These creative and community school-student partnership solutions would not be possible without a community school coordinator with the background and inside knowledge of these school data teams and processes, as well as community collaboration allowing us to connect and co-design something in which students can drive their engagement with us based on their own needs and wants. It's a beautiful example of how community school coordinators can leverage resources for a school to maximize the impact on students. That is something to be excited about! 

Q: How are you working with the Denfeld Community School Leadership Team?


A: The Denfeld community school leadership team is currently working on hiring a new community school coordinator! Denfeld is in its third year of a three-year community school strategic plan. The plan was created using data from youth, staff, partners, and family focus groups; public health data; and the school's continuous needs assessment, which informs our school improvement plan. Thus, the school improvement plan goal of increasing graduation rates, specifically for students with special needs, students living in poverty, American Indian, and African American identified youth, is one of our primary community school goals.  Increasing health and wellness opportunities, family engagement, and expanding space for community schools services are also goals of this plan for this final year. Progress has been made in all areas, and the interview team for the new coordinator includes community partners, the school principal, a parent, and student from under-represented groups, which is also a big win for creating inclusive leadership processes that guide our work!  Q: Why does this work matter?

A: This work matters because it connects the community to the school. It is even more important right now with the pandemic, recession, and the spotlight that is shining on racial injustice in our country. Schools need community voice in order to effectively serve students.

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