ACPS Community School Coordinators Present at Spring Conference
Four ACPS Community School Coordinators had the opportunity to give a presentation to more than 100 educators from across the state at the recent 2021 Maryland Community Schools Summer Conference, which was virtually hosted by the Maryland State Department of Education. This year's theme was "Leading for Change: Community Schools and the Road Ahead." Jayne Lechliter, John Humbird Elementary School; Samantha Kennedy, South Penn Elementary School; Autumn Symons, George's Creek Elementary School; and Devin McGregor, Westernport Elementary School, spoke to the audience about community schools in Appalachian Maryland. The group was also accompanied by ACPS Equity and Student Outcomes Coordinator, Dr. Sarah Welsh. Community schools are schools that develop and utilize partnerships to connect the school, students, families, and surrounding community to the resources needed in order to thrive. According to MSDE, "At its core, the community school strategy is deeply rooted in equity; it highlights the assets in traditionally underserved communities and leverages additional partnerships, ultimately providing students, families, and communities with essential services."
The ACPS group spoke about the current challenges facing Allegany County including transportation and infrastructure at the county level and family engagement, attendance, and social emotional learning at the school level and how ACPS is preparing for the road ahead. ACPS is taking a district, school, and community approach by forming Community School Teams, Pupil Service and Support Teams, and Community School Advisory Teams. ACPS is also collecting data and analyzing gaps in attendance, achievement, behavior, and needs assessment.
According to Dr. Welsh, "The community school coordinators highlighted all of the work that they have done in the last year to help keep students and families engaged in learning, connected to schools, as well as staying safe and healthy." She went on to say, "The community school program will continue at the four elementary schools, so watch for more activities and opportunities to come."