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West Chicago Elementary District 33 is a very unique and exciting school district. One of the distinguishing features of our district is our commitment to community and community schools. Below is an piece that I wrote for the Suburban Life newspaper describing this concept.
For nearly 10 years, West Chicago Elementary District 33 has been steadily implementing a community schools model. In the community schools model, public schools, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies work together to provide support to students and families. By working together, these organizations can better address needs that are critical to comprehensive, whole-child development and strong and effective families.
I often think of effective community schools as being represented by a three-legged stool. One leg represents effective schools that are increasing student academic and social-emotional achievement. A second leg represents strong and vibrant community supports, both municipal and non-profit. The third leg represents strong, healthy families. When all three legs are each strong and are working together in harmony, the stool stands strong. In other words, children are achieving academically and whole families are healthy. The well-being of children is represented by the seat of the three legged stool. In order to be truly effective, each element of the community school model must work together in a careful partnership that includes regular coordination and an adherence to shared values.
According to the Federation for Community Schools, there are three distinct features of community schools:
Boost academic achievement through education, social and emotional supports, offering programs and services that remove barriers and provided enhanced opportunities.
Comprehensive support of the health and wellness of young children and their families through medical support, counseling services, and youth and community development programs.
Parental and community engagement, including an active role in decision-making through shared leadership.
West Chicago Elementary District 33, with its partners in WeGo Together for Kids created this type of model. WeGo Together for Kids is a partnership of over 50 members. Throughout the school year, the partners in WeGo Together for Kids support our students and their families by providing medical, social and emotional,mental health, adult education, nutrition and fitness, food access and academic support. By working in harmony, each partner can be more effective and efficient than when operating independently. In the end, by working together the community can go stronger and healthier. As we make progress on these goals, we know that children will be more successful academically because they are able to come to school prepared for school.