Opinion: Support community school effort

Posted 10/3/19

Taos Public Schools has launched a new initiative beginning with Enos Garcia Elementary. Enos will become the first community school in the district, a place where staff, students, families and …

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Opinion: Support community school effort

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Taos Public Schools has launched a new initiative beginning with Enos Garcia Elementary. Enos will become the first community school in the district, a place where staff, students, families and community partners come together to create the best learning experience possible.

It is a good step toward a model that could make a lot of sense for Taos area schools.

Along with teachers and classrooms, community schools also may provide health clinics, social services and volunteers who help in classrooms and with after-school programs. Community schools also offer mentorships and internships, working with local businesses and nonprofits to help students gain real-world work experience while earning credits.

Community schools put into practice the old adage "it takes a village to raise a child."

The community school model isn't new. It's been used with some success in dozens of other states and towns, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe. These schools keep students engaged in learning through hands-on activities and not just sitting behind desks; they keep the community and school staff engaged in creating learning environments that support the whole child - mental, physical and emotional.

In decades past, schools were about teachers, classrooms and subject matter. But that was before more children began showing up with a multitude of problems at home that affected their ability to learn.

Many Taos students struggle because their families struggle. When students show up at school hungry, tired because of home life or lack of a home and traumatized, they have a tough time caring about reading, writing or math. When their parents or guardians are working two or three jobs and don't have time to see the medical or mental health professionals they or their children need, the lack of care spills over into their children's lives.

Community schools fit with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's strategy for improving education by "engaging families, communities and students' substantive partners."

If the community school model proves successful at Enos, the district may consider expanding the model to all schools.

It will be exciting to see how the Enos community school develops. Kudos to the staff, teachers, administrators, students and community volunteers striving to make this happen from the ground up. It is an endeavor worth supporting by all Taos.

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