1.Tell us about your community school. How has the community school strategy impacted your students, families, and community?

Forest Park High School is a family environment. Staff and Faculty are the heart of Forest Park High School. The Community School strategy impacts our families by building strong relationships with students, families, and the community to allow them to trust us to provide a safe, supportive, and stable environment. Here are some highlights of how our community school positively impacted our students and families:

  • I have a student who attended our Y program that has academically increased his grade from C to A in American History.
  • More than 85% of students in the Y in Central Maryland 12th grade leadership club made High Honor.
  • A parent lost her job and my staff provided her with food for a month and career readiness training.

2.Why do you do what you do?

I am a coordinator because I was a student that lacked parent engagement, academic, and social and emotional support. Between the years 2005-2010 I engaged and connected youth in my community to resources for academic, social, and emotional support in my free time. Being a coordinator allows me to use my personal and educational experience to rebuild, restructure, and uplift students, families, and communities.

3.The Coalition for Community Schools is hosting their 2018 Community Schools National Forum in Baltimore. What are you excited to learn about to at the Forum?

I hope to learn more about the Community School strategy at the high school level—how to support students who are dealing with homeless, who are suffering from drug abuse and how our faculty can provide emotional/social support.

4.Last fall, on panel at a Community Schools briefing on Capitol Hill, you and one of your high school students talked about the importance of having student voice at school. How does your school lift up youth voice, and how has that made a difference in how your community school works?

Forest Park uplift voices by during the following: listening, uplifting, being nonjudgmental, and validating student’s opinion. Doing that gives students a sense of belonging, increases self-esteem, and increases student engagement. Additionally, we provide advocacy training for our students.

5.What are your biggest challenges?

Parent engagement for high schools students and finding new organizations and partners to provide services and resources at little to no cost for our students and families.

6.What’s one piece of advice you would give to other coordinators?

One piece of advice I would give to coordinators is to create a strategy through a nonjudgmental lens that understands that students, families and communities are sensitive due to the trauma they’ve experienced.

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