The Bridges Institute improves student achievement by making a difference in educators’ performance and professional growth, while also supporting community school models. Community schools provide intensive community engagement and wraparound social services to “turn around” struggling schools. All Bridges Institute professional development programs are designed to empower educators to connect theory to practice and improve student outcomes.
What Is a Community School?
Community learning centers. Full-service schools. Community hubs. Whatever you call them, community schools make a difference in the lives of children, families, educators, and their communities each and every day. By moving beyond the normal confines of the school and partnering with local stakeholders, community schools provide real solutions to the unique problems of the students and families they serve, and they are another major step forward in reclaiming the promise of public education.
Community schools aren’t just centers of education; they’re the new hearts of their communities, helping to create better conditions for both teaching and learning. They’re places where teachers, families, community members, and service providers can come together in coordinated, purposeful, and results-focused partnerships. These schools become the centers of their communities by providing the services to students, families, and neighbors that best serve their needs — while at the same time promoting stable, healthy neighborhoods.
This isn’t just another program; it’s a paradigm shift in the way we think about schools that goes well beyond just providing supports and services for students.
Community School Resources
Programs focus on a wide range of topics, including classroom management/behavior, community/family involvement, curriculum, instruction and assessment, and special education.
Community schools organize partners and resources for struggling campuses to address the challenges faced by students and their families. The model emphasizes intensive planning and engagement with parents and community stakeholders, as well as coordination with social service providers and nonprofits to provide wraparound services to address issues like poverty, high mobility, and healthcare. Community schools also strive to create innovative, real-world learning opportunities in and out of the classroom.
Texas Community School Initiatives
Current community schools’ initiatives are underway in Houston, Austin, El Paso, and Corpus Christi, as well as several other areas just starting their programs. The Bridges Institute has created a statewide community school network to share best practices, research, and technical support as school districts adopt community schools as their model for school improvement.
The institute will continue to sponsor the annual Texas Community Schools Summit and partner with national organizations like the National Coalition for Community Schools, Communities in Schools, and Austin Voices for Education and Youth.