Community Schools Initiative
Community School is both a place and a network of supportive partnerships between the school and the community.
Union’s Community Schools approach to education seeks to equalize the playing field for all students through a comprehensive, four-pronged approach, providing layered supports for children and families: Expanded Learning Time, Collaborative Learning Practices, Family and Engagement Practices, and Integrated Student Services
Union Public Schools is committed to strengthening children, families, and communities. Eight Full-Service Community Schools at Union serve as hubs for programs that include expanded learning opportunities, family engagement, and a variety of social services. These eight schools offer a robust menu of resources and programs to meet the needs of our students and families including Baby Book Club, After-School Programs, Family Events, Holiday Assistance, School-Based Counseling, etc.
From preschool through graduation, Community Schools support student growth and achievement while also creating strong ties among families, students, schools, and communities. Doing so will help ensure 100% of our students graduate college and career ready.
Core components of a community school
For further information visit: www.communityschools.org
The Community Schools initiative is supported by a variety of generous community partners, foundations, and grants.
In the early 2000s, Union began to see an increase in students who needed more support than a traditional school district could provide. The district responded to the changing needs of the student population by addressing challenges such food insecurity, lack of access to health care, and inequitable distribution of community resources through the implementation of the research-based Community Schools model.
In 2005, Union began laying the foundation for the creation of multiple community schools in an effort to bring in community partners for greater equity at schools with higher levels of poverty. In partnership with University of Oklahoma, a school-based health clinic was established at Clark Elementary, and later at Rosa Parks Elementary. YMCA became a district partner to provide students with enrichment and tutoring during after-school programs. Family & Children Services also became a valuable partner to help address the mental health needs of students.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Health Service Commission (MHSC) and other community leaders in Tulsa were looking at ways to support students and families, and made educational improvement as one of its priorities. After much research and a visit to the National Community Schools Conference in 2006, MHSC and Community Service Council created the Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative (TACSI). TACSI, supported by Community Service Council, fundraised, organized, and supported the Community Schools philosophy at Union Public Schools and Tulsa Public Schools. Community School Coordinators were placed in selected schools, as identified by the district with highest percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, to coordinate programming and partnerships.
In 2011, Roy Clark Elementary was one of three national winners of the Community Schools for Excellence Award by the Coalition for Community Schools. They were honored with a $1,000 prize for being exemplars in their communities, demonstrating strong results by creating optimal conditions for student academic success through strong community partnerships.
In 2013, Community Schools became part of the district’s strategic plan, and approved by the school board as one of the district’s four key areas of focus. Today, there are eight Full-Service Community Schools at Union: Boevers Elementary, Clark Elementary, Grove Elementary, Jarman Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, McAuliffe Elementary, Ochoa Elementary, and Rosa Parks Elementary.
Union offered health clinics at Rosa Parks and Roy Clark Elementary Schools until they were closed by OU Physicians in May 2019. However, a new school-based health clinic was established at Rosa Parks through Community Health Connection, a full-service family practice clinic offering a broad array of services, including dental, prenatal, women's health, pediatrics, family medicine and behavioral health services and a full-service pharmacy.
Union’s commitment to the Community Schools philosophy, in partnership with funders and community partners, helps create an environment where children have access to high-quality experiences. These experiences improve student success and promote a healthy lifestyle and the opportunity to build relationships with caring peers and adults, who become a part of the student’s support system.
District Community Schools Coordinator
Andrea Zambrano and