Community Schools are a partnership between the City of Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia, and school communities to remove barriers to learning and support the success of each student. In each Community School, a Community School Coordinator works with the school’s leadership and community partners to implement programs and activities that promote wellness, stability, and learning opportunities for students, families, and neighbors.
Being a community school means being responsive to the needs of the community. This fall, the ongoing pandemic and virtual learning meant families faced new challenges. Here are some of the ways that Coordinators and school partners stepped up to help:
At Cramp Elementary School, coordinator Will Reed and the school team worked with Evolve IP, who donated 100 boxes of canned goods and turkeys for Thanksgiving families and community members in need.
As part of a larger donation to all Community Schools by Hilco Global, Alexander McClure School Coordinator Catherine Collazos gave out 300 winter clothing items to families in need. Thanks to this partnership, community members had access to warm clothing just in time for the coldest months of the year.
Charles Reyes made sure Dobbins CTE High School neighbors could look to the school for support. He coordinated with Philabundance to continue weekly produce distributions at a nearby church. He also worked with Philadelphia FIGHT to repurpose the school’s outdoor space into a weekly COVID-19 testing site. Testing happens every Tuesday, and is free for all.
Coordinator Ester Roche-Curet used the donation by Hilco Global to get cold weather items to families at Hamilton Disston School.
With temperatures beginning to drop, F.S. Edmonds School Coordinator Robin Torrence made sure the community was ready and warm. Thanks to a partnership with the Alumni Association of Lincoln University, Robin gave out over 100 coats to students and families during a “Pop-up Distribution Day.” The school also handed out hygiene products, clothing, and supplies for new and expecting mothers thanks to a partnership with Cradles to Crayons.
With an eye on bringing the “holly” and the “jolly” to the Gideon Elementary School community, Coordinator Greg Wright helped families enjoy the holidays. Working with the school team and Councilperson Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Greg co-organized festive toy distribution for kids of all ages. He has also been instrumental in helping families find food throughout the year.
Rennie Parker, Coordinator at Samuel Gompers School, kept the holiday spirit up by helping families who need it most. He distributed nearly 300 winter clothing items thanks to a donation by Hilco Global. He also set up appointment-only visits to the school’s Community Closet, where any local resident or family can come and “shop” for free clothes, hygiene products, and more.
Antonio Romero continued to support student attendance at Kensington Health Science Academy. Through attendance incentive programs like giveaways, virtual dance parties, and more, Antonio and the KHSA team kept students engaged and excited for virtual learning.
At Alain Locke School, Interim Coordinator Traves Saunders looked for ways to help families who were facing food insecurity. With support from Mt. Airy Grocery and the American Heart Association, Locke families received over 200 meals during the holiday season.
Working with local partners, Logan Elementary Coordinator Collette Butler handed out over 100 turkey dinners to families in need during the Thanksgiving season. Collette and her school partners later helped spread holiday cheer by giving out toys to the students and young people around the school community.
Coordinator Caroline Robinson focused on helping Overbrook Educational Center families celebrate the holidays with plenty of food and joy. With help from the Shipley School and Share Food Program, Caroline gave out turkey dinners to a number of families just in time for Thanksgiving.
At Richard R. Wright School, Coordinator Caitlyn Nichols connected several families in need with Thanksgiving meals. These included a frozen turkey and all the trimmings needed for a holiday feast.
At South Philadelphia High School, Coordinator Janelle Harper helped make the best of a challenging situation. During regular Friday student meal distributions throughout December, Janlle created a “Masks, Spice and Everything Nice” event where she gave out free masks, clothing items from the school’s Community Closet, and snacks for anyone who stopped by.
Southwark School Coordinator Liz Hejlek continued to help families with assistance from food partners. She worked with Share Food Program, Eat Right Philly and Dunkin’ to provide over 300 food boxes to community members and families throughout the Fall.
Coordinator Caitlyn Boyle worked hard to spread holiday cheer to families at George Washington High School. She worked with LogistiCare and Volunteers of America Delaware Valley to distribute holiday meals and presents to 25 families.
This holiday season, Shira Smillie and the Webster School team went above and beyond for families across the city. Webster was the central hub for the 3,000 winter clothing items donated by Hilco Global earlier in December and distributed to several other Community Schools. Shira also distributed roughly 400 items to the Webster community!
Community Schools are a year-round effort. Coordinators and school staff are looking forward to 2021 and to working with families and partners to support thriving school communities. Stay tuned for more updates from Community Schools!