The Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools announced this week it will join a national education movement that aims to improve learning by increasing community support and involvement in students lives not just at school but away from it as well.
ECPPS officials said they plan to create Community Schools within the district, and one school P.W. Moore Elementary has already signed up for the effort.
Community schooling is a grassroots effort drawing on the assets of schools, universities, and other agencies serving children and families, interim Superintendent Eddie Ingram said in a press release, noting there are already more than 5,000 Community Schools across the country. The time has never been better to reimagine what our schools can be and I look forward to the work ahead.
According to ECPPS, Community Schools form strong, deep, and intentional partnerships between schools, faith and business communities, and other social and health agencies (to) ensure student learning and whole child and family development. They also combine wraparound services with more personalized, deeper learning opportunities for young people and families.
ECPPS said its taking the step to form Community Schools because research shows that out-of-school factors are responsible for the vast majority of gaps in student achievement.
The capacity to learn academically is shaped by many social, physical, and mental factors, the district said. Schools alone cannot do all of the work that needs to be done for children.
Citing the Partnership for the Future of Learnings Community Schools Playbook, ECPPS said the four elements of a successful community schools program include:
An integrated student support network where teams of educators and other professionals work together for students and their families;
Expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities, connecting the classroom to after-school, summer, and apprenticeship programs;
Active family and community engagement opportunities that facilitate positive communication between education and other professionals and parents; and
Collaborative leadership practices where every stakeholder shares responsibility for leading the work.
Assisting ECPPS with the Community Schools effort is Dr. Barnett Berry, a professor and senior director for policy and innovation at the University of South Carolina.
We need to be tackling institutional structures that limit our ability to create the conditions that we need for whole child education to occur in schools, he said in the release. North Carolina, as well as ECPPS, have many of the pieces of the puzzle but now we need to put them together.
Stephanie Ambrose, principal at P.W. Moore Elementary, said her staff are eager to start the Community School initiative.
We believe in the power of community, providing needed supports and resources for success, and most of all, we believe in our staff and families, she said. Together, we can reimagine education for P.W. Moore and work united for the betterment of our children and community.
ECPPS Board of Education Chairwoman Sharon Warden said she believes its time to embrace an initiative that will redefine how we look at our childrens futures and the future of our community.
Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools has always had incredible partnerships, innovative professionals, and interested families, so its time to have them working as one cohesive unit toward one goal: the elevation of all our children, she said. We are ready to jumpstart education here in Elizabeth City and enthusiasm is extremely high for what our community is about to experience at P.W. Moore Elementary School.
Ingram, superintendent at a school district in South Carolina prior to his retirement earlier this year, has had past experience with the Community Schools concept.
This initiative is the first step in developing a comprehensive approach to schooling that makes much more sense than the myopic approach of chasing a standardized test score, he said. The present accountability system is driven by zip code and is simply insufficient when measuring school effectiveness.
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