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What Are Community Schools?

Community Schools are public schools that provide services and support that fit each neighborhood’s needs, created and run by the people who know our children best—all working together.
In community schools, as in all schools, teachers teach and students learn—but with a focus on the whole child: an integrated focus.  

Much like a smart phone, this integrated approach encompasses many new features:  

  • before and after school programs beyond the traditional extracurricular and athletic programs; 
  • learning opportunities for family and community members; and  
  • health and wellness support. 

Partnerships with community organizations and businesses broaden the educational and experiential scope of learning making the school a hub of community activity.  

These schools are often based on the Sustainable Community Schools (SCS) model, which considers: 

  •  the needs of students and their families;  
  • services that are currently provided at the school;  
  • the availability and capabilities of local provider agencies; and  
  • the willingness of school personnel to change course and accept a new way of operating.  

The Community School concept has been embraced by single schools; entire school districts, cities, and counties; and, in one case, an entire state (Kentucky). 

Kyle Serrette
“Community schools have the channels in place to accurately identify the needs and hopes of the school community, and then to triage those needs,”
Quote by: Kyle Serrette

Listen Up

NEA’s Kyle Serrette talks with School Me podcast host Natieka Samuels about what makes a community school.

The 6 Pillars of Community Schools

The Community School Model advanced by NEA includes six pillars of practice. Like most public education models, they are adaptable to the needs of an individual school’s students, staff, families and community. 

National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.