DALLAS -- There is a big push focused on turning things around at some Dallas ISD campuses that have experienced a history of struggling academically.
At one school in Oak Cliff, it is more than just teachers working to motivate students. A group of dedicated community members are becoming a visible part of the plan through a “community school” approach.
As the bell rings at John Neely Bryan Elementary, students race to the school’s front door. They are greeted by two lines of adults.
“Good morning,” the adults say to the children. “Good morning.”
Students on Bryan’s campus know they are getting a lot of community support each day. The campus is the first in Dallas ISD to try out a community school initiative.
”This model is an academic-turnaround model for struggling schools,” said Rena Honea, president of Alliance/AFT, the largest teachers union serving Dallas ISD.
Honea says the community school pilot is bringing together groups like Texas Organizing Project, churches, other community associations and businesses. The groups are partnering with the campus to help provide resources.
“The school can’t do it by themselves,” Honea said. “It has to be a village that raises our children.”
Bryan’s campus has been among some of those struggling for years, according to Dallas ISD staff.
Supporters of the community school initiative say its approach focuses on offering wrap-around services like tutoring, health, GED, and language classes for the students and their families, among other things.
Danielle Armstrong’s son is a third grader at the campus.
”With him, his reading, and his math, is great,” she said.
Armstrong said she has seen tremendous turnaround since the campus began adopting the community school model this school year.
”They actually communicate with the parents and try to help the parents out with the kids that, you know, need help,” Armstrong said.
Supporters say Bryan’s pilot was modeled after successful community schools in cities like Austin and Chicago.
“We know when the consistency is there and we have participation from partners, that we can begin to see the academic growth that our students deserve,” Honea said.
Parents claim they are already seeing some positive impact.
”Every day, it’s something new,” Armstrong said. “It’s a great thing that the kids are learning.”
Armstrong is optimistic community schools could be a model for other campuses working to see academic gains.