In May, 2018, twelve Indianapolis school and community professionals, as well as IUPUI urban education doctoral students, attended the Community Schools National Forum in Baltimore, Maryland, to connect on the topic of community schools, an approach that engages entire neighborhoods to organize and align community resources to foster student success. This national forum welcomed a diverse set of community schools practitioners, families, youth, non-profit leaders, policy makers, program leaders and others to learn new skills, build relationships and go home with the tools and inspiration to increase equity and opportunity through community schools.
“The Indianapolis team brought back a plethora of best practices from across the country to apply to parent and school community engagement here,” said Jim Grim, director of university/community school partnerships in IUPUI’s Office of Community Engagement, who participated in five presentations. “It is always invigorating to learn from one another and bring home ideas to implement or customize for our own Central Indiana purposes. I am pleased that IUPUI had such a presence.”
Dr. Monica Medina, Clinical Associate Professor in the IU School of Education at IUPUI, facilitated a discussion, “Preparing Teachers to Teach in Urban Schools.” She focused on the pre-service course she teaches at Arsenal Tech High School where IUPUI students spend two days a week in high school classes assisting teachers, providing lessons, and tutoring the younger students one-on-one or in small groups. Afterward, they meet for their own class with Dr. Medina.
Jim Grim, Kayla Nunnally, and Nicole Oglesby from the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement joined Near-Westside Community Schools Project partners to present “The Indianapolis Community Schools Experience.” Their work has helped to create and strengthen community schools in the Martindale- Brightwood and Near West neighborhoods. They also participated in a statewide Indiana Community Schools Network meeting that identified enhancement of school communication with parents and families as a crucial need. The Indiana Community Schools Network plans to focus on helping schools to better communicate with families as a collective, statewide goal.
Colleague Patricia Weinzapfel of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation has authored a book titled, “No More Mumbo Jumbo, Bridging the Communication Gap Between Educators and Families,” that the Network hopes to draw upon in helping schools to better communicate.
The Forum is hosted by the Institute for Educational Leadership’s (IEL) Coalition for Community Schools in partnership with the Maryland Coalition for Community Schools, the City of Baltimore, Baltimore City Public Schools and community partners.