TOGETHER! We Rise

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What can we do together to advance the health and well-being of all young people in our region? Visit TOGETHER!’s blog to enjoy updates on our work and information on issues concerning families and young people.


Community Schools Breaks Barriers to Bring Resources to Students
Community Schools Breaks Barriers to Bring Resources to Students

A Community School is more than just a building where kids go to learn history and algebra. It’s a place, a partnership, and a state of mind – all at the same time. Community Schools are sites for all kinds of learning and growth: academic, social, emotional and relational. Students at Community Schools learn that they belong in school, where there is a community that cares for them. Their families learn that their participation and engagement in their child’s education is invaluable, and that their school will go the extra mile to get it. Staff at Community Schools learn that they don’t have to work in isolation, but can reach out to community organizations to help them help their students.

So how does it work? It starts with a partnership between a school district and a nonprofit who agree to work together to serve the needs of the students beyond academics, needs ranging from food and clothing to counseling and recovery services to healthcare and transportation. The nonprofit, or lead agency, then reaches out to other community organizations to build partnerships that make a wide array of resources and services as accessible as possible to students in schools. The idea is to weave networks of support that already exist in the community into the life of the school, so that students and families can spend less time worrying about how they’re going to access the services they need to survive and thrive, and more time thinking about their schoolwork.

In 2014, TOGETHER! partnered with Tumwater School District on just such an initiative and now, in our third year, Community Schools has grown to a vital piece of Tumwater’s student support program and, in the 2016-2017 school year, expanded into three high-need elementary schools for the first time. Listed below are just a few of the exciting programs we have developed to serve our students:

  • Partnership with Sea Mar Behavioral Health Services to provide in-school counseling to middle and high school students
  • Resource centers in seven buildings including food, clothing and hygiene items accessible to any student with referral from the counselor or Community Schools Manager. Sponsored by Tumwater Rotary, Tumwater Parent Organization, Black Hills High School Interact Club, and others.
  • Calming breath and movement practice currently being piloted with a small group of elementary school students at Michael T. Simmons Elementary, developed in partnership with Sea Mar Preventative Health.
  • Establishment of Student Success Funds to support incidental student needs that surpass the capacity of our resource centers, i.e. transportation passes and gas cards, activity fees, IDs needed for employment, certain healthcare costs and special clothing or supplies.
  • Back to Basics healthcare access event series: free sports physicals and immunization clinics every August, in partnership with Providence and Thurston County Public Health.
  • Community Engagement Nights and Family Fun Days with food, activities and community resources for kids and families.

If you or your organization are interested in partnering with us, let us know! We are always looking for volunteers to help us fundraise, plan events and keep our resource centers stocked! Here’s who to call:

Arianne Sandel, Michael T. Simmons Elementary, Peter G. Schmidt Elementary, and Black Lake Elementary Community Schools Manager, arianne.sandel@tumwater.k12.wa.us, 360-972-0319
 
Jennifer Gould, Tumwater Middle School and Black Hills High School Community Schools Manager, Jennifer.gould@tumwater.k12.wa.us, 360-999-0546
 
Lindsey Bates, Bush Middle School and Tumwater High School Community Schools Manager, lindsey.bates@tumwater.k12.wa.us, 360-742-7083
 
Cynthia Spencer, AmeriCorps VISTA for Community Schools, cspencer@thurstontogether.org, 360-972-4519


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