What would you say about a program embedded within a high school that:
- Helped to increase the school’s graduation rate from 67 percent to 89 percent within a three-year period.
- Led to more than 1,000 fewer student disciplinary referrals over the course of a single year.
- Developed so many effective support services that it fueled a 60 percent increase in the number of students and parents using them.
- Enabled 47 students to receive academic tutoring, 75 students to receive health care and dental services and 151 students to receive in-school counseling over a one-year period.
- Inspired students, parents and the surrounding community to perform 2,500 hours of school-related volunteer work over a one-year period.
First, you’d surely say that program deserves to be lavishly praised.
Second, you’d surely say that program deserves to be expanded into more schools.
That certainly applies to the Children’s Home Society of Florida’s Community Partnership Schools program; since 2015 it has made the amazing impact listed above at Edward White High School, thanks to a collaboration between the Children’s Home Society, the Duval County Public Schools, the University of North Florida and the Agape Community Health Center.
“This program is about removing the barriers that cause students to fail in the education process, and that’s what we’re seeing (at Edward White),” said Kymberly Cook, the Children’s Home Society’s senior vice president of operations.
Cook, Regional Executive Director Tracy McDade and Remonte Green — a Children’s Home Society director who oversees the Community Partnership Schools program inside Edward White High — recently met with the Times-Union Editorial Board to explain why the concept should be used in more Florida schools.
The concept was launched in an Orlando school several years ago; locally, it is in Edward White High and a few schools in Clay and St. Johns counties.
And it has proven to be as successful as it is logical.
Because it embraces the idea that it’s important for a school to provide vulnerable students with the academic resources they need — but that it’s also vital to give them the support services that address the daily obstacles putting their futures at risk.
- Profound mental health needs.
- Exposure to violence.
- Family challenges, which may include parents who genuinely want to help their children succeed in school, but lack the parenting skills and education to do so.
It is a thoughtful approach that has led Edward White High students to actively seek assistance for everything from mental health counseling to food insecurity — while also feeling a greater sense of ownership and pride in their school.
It’s a holistic approach that has dramatically increased the number of parents now actively involved in the education process at Edward White High.
“It is really inspiring to see how the students, the parents and the whole community have really come together around this program,” Green said.
It’s an inspirational story that deserves to be written in more schools across Florida.
McDade told the Editorial Board that the Children’s Home Society is requesting $5.8 million in support from the Florida Legislature to expand the Community Partnership Schools model across the state.
Florida’s lawmakers should promptly provide the money to do just that.
It’s a bargain — and the transformation at Edward White High is proof.
Originally posted by: Florida Times Union