CONGRATULATIONS to Socorro High School for being awarded a Community Schools Implementation Grant by the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED)!

Community schools are one of the 10 vital services identified by the 100% New Mexico Initiative that every family must have access to in order to survive and thrive. The Community Schools strategy is based on collaborative leadership and community partnerships that provide resources at schools. Community schools are more than having school-based health centers, behavioral health providers, and daycare for student parents; it’s an intentional and strategic effort to transform the school culture to support all students.

To receive an implementation grant, Socorro High School had to identify existing community assets and partnerships integral to the Community Schools strategy. They demonstrated the need for this strategy and captured an honest snapshot of the existing culture.

SHS partnered with the Alliance for the Study of School Climate (ASSC) to survey students, parents, and teachers and staff of SHS to measure school climate in terms of learning environment, student interactions, faculty relations, leadership, and social emotional culture (among other dimensions). The data collected in the survey provides an overall School Climate Score, which correlates strongly with student achievement scores: high school climate scores correlate strongly with high student achievement. The Community Schools strategy identifies key practices to improve school climate, and therefore is a powerful strategy to improve student achievement.

What are key practices of community schools?

One key practice is powerful student and family engagement. The implementation grant can provide food and childcare to allow families to participate in school events and be part of their student’s school community.

SHS is well-situated to leverage the existing culture of community partnership to implement the key practice of collaborative leadership. Support from this grant will provide the resources to better coordinate and more efficiently integrate community resources in SHS.

Friday programming that augments the 4-day school week provides unique opportunities to implement the key practice of expanded, culturally enriched learning opportunities. The welding program is one example that provides job-ready certifications. This grant will increase these kinds of opportunities with resources to further connect with community partners.

GEAR UP, Upward Bound Math and Science, and dual-credit courses with university partners are a few examples of how SHS already exercises the key practice of community-connected classroom instruction.

Integrated systems of support and a culture of belonging, safety, and care are also key practices of community schools. One goal is to eliminate barriers to services by providing resources onsite. The Michigan Avenue Marketplace provides free resources to students where they are. Coordinating onsite clinics with MVD and vital records, for example, has the potential to increase family engagement and provide important resources for career readiness.

Implementing these key practices will take strong, collaborative leadership. The SHS principal, the community school coordinator, and the site based leadership team are committed to supporting students at SHS; they have buy-in from teachers and students, and full support of the superintendent and school board. The Community Schools strategy has the potential for powerful transformation that our students and families deserve.

Again, congratulations and thank you for committing to this work. It’s important and sincerely appreciated.