Toward the end of the school year, NOC’s Education team coordinated a tour for 15 community members at Brooklyn Center High School to learn more about Brooklyn Center Community Schools (BCCS) and the possibility of what full-service community schools could look like in the metro area. Currently, only one school in Minneapolis is funded through the statewide community schools: Richard Green Central Park School. BCCS is special in that they are one of the few full-service community school districts in the nation and the only one in Minnesota. Since 2009, they have committed themselves to this model and are reaping the results in college enrollment (78% in 2014), graduation rates (87%), and deep decreases in behavior references (from 5,113 to 2,495 in four years).
District Site Coordinator Patrice Howard showing the optometrist room
Some of the unique partnerships and programs we saw were:
A bike room where students refurbished donated used bikes and sell them to different groups
A home economics room where students participate in healthy cooking classes after school
A family resource center which includes a community closet of donated clothes and a staff triage clinic that's available to staff, spouses, and dependants. Physicians in this clinic once caught an early showing of skin cancer!
An optometrist clinic which provides in-kind services once a month
A health & dental clinic that's open to youth in the community with exam rooms and mental health services including remote video conferencing
Dental clinic space at Brooklyn Center Schools
Our members left BCCS feeling impressed & inspired about the possibilities for what community schools could do for Minnesotans’ children and families. Here are some reflections:
Brooklyn Center Community Schools was a very interesting school community to visit. There were a lot of great spaces & the students seemed they had a lot of fun. Learning about the health clinic was very beneficial. Most schools don’t have these services. Patrice Howard told me about how my family could benefit from it because I have children that live in Brooklyn Center. Because of the healthcare services & other resources, I want my kids there.
My Goddaughter went a whole school year without the glasses she needed and she struggled with reading and headaches the whole time. It was great to see a school that not only tests for glasses right at the school, but also fills the prescription for glasses too. It is a blessing that so many children's medical needs can be met in order to make their education experience more successful! Please continue to do your good work -- and to tell your story about the difference it is making for our kids. I wish every school was like yours!
Sue Budd & Frederick Johnson reading about the health clinic resources
We're thankful for Brooklyn Center Community High School's vision of a holistic, public education that provides not only academic support but also the service provisions of a community center. There are many components to the opportunity gap that can impact a student's academic performance, including healthcare, dental care and food security, and we appreciate the work BCCHS is doing to address these needs. We believe that a school model that provides these services, along with academic rigor, strong teaching and high expectations, has tremendous potential to better equip historically underserved students and communities. BCCHS, thank you for sharing how you are striving to bridge the divide between your school and the community.
-Cheniqua Johnson & Brandie Burris-Gallagher
Special thanks to Patrice Howard & Mykella Auld of BCCS for hosting us!