Linking Communities and Schools

Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm on Ch.5.1
Original airdate:Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. on Ch. 5.1
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Across the country, it’s increasingly clear that traditional education models aren’t working for many students. In response, many schools are shifting how they operate in order to meet the changing needs of students and communities.

The most widespread example of this idea is the community school. Such schools connect families with resources and give parents the tools to support their children in their education. That means linking families to health services, fostering family engagement, and offering extended learning programs outside normal school hours for both students and adults.

Data collected from these kinds of schools nationwide show reduced truancy rates, more parental engagement, and higher reading and math scores. New Mexico passed a community schools act in 2013, but it remains unfunded. So could we improve New Mexico’s education rankings and the well-being of our children through these kinds of models?

In this month’s show, we’ll talk with educators, community leaders and community coordinators. Community leaders include State Senator Michael Padilla, Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson and Albuquerque Public Schools Administrator Kristine Meurer, executive director of student, family and community supports at Albuquerque Public Schools. Funding for PUBLIC SQUARE is provided in part by a new, 2-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Quotes From PUBLIC SQUARE Participants:

“Our students come to the table with a lot of different things beyond not being able to add and subtract.”
Marco Harris, Principal, Highland High School

“Our schools are the hub of the community, they’re the heart of the community and people see it as a refuge, they see it as a place to go to get help.”
Peggy Candelaria, Principal, Manzano Mesa Elementary School

“If we can drop the dropout rate to under 10 percent, we’re going to experience a 700 million dollar a year savings to every taxpayer in NM. I’ll take that investment any day of the week.”
Michael Padilla, state senator

“You have to wrap yourself around the whole child and that’s part of what a community school does.”
Kristine Meurer, exec. dir., student, family and community supports, ABQ Public Schools

Community Participants

Robert Baade
Director, Robert F. Kennedy Charter School
President, South West Educational Partners for Training, SWEPT
About Robert:
About RFK:

Peggy Candelaria
Principal, Manzano Mesa Elementary (APS)
Prior to becoming principal at Manzano mesa, Peggy taught at Sandia Base Elementary School and Algadones Elementary School. She says that “being a principal is hard and exhausting work! We DO make differences in the lives of our students, and the community which we serve.” “Manzano Mesa has phenomenal teachers! It’s a great place to be everyday. Our motto is “Together We Can” and we really believe that.”

Janyce Cardenas
Community Engagement Coordinator
YDI – Elev8 Program
Janyce Cardenas facilitates health literacy and advocacy work at Wilson Middle School, which is a YDI-Elev8 New Mexico community school. Ms. Cardenas uses Wilson’s school-based health center to spark students’ interest in pursuing health careers. To combat childhood obesity she supports the expansion of Wilson’s gardening program and youth-led service learning initiatives. She tries to ensure that all endeavors respect families’ cultural diversity.

Marco Harris
Principal, Highland High School
Mr. Harris was born in Santa Barbara, CA and studied at the University of New Mexico, He began his career at Kennedy Middle School in Albuquerque at a 6th-8th grade Social Studies teacher, and Special Education and Language Arts teacher.
He worked at Wilson Middle School as an Assistant Principal and became principal in 2008. This year he is principal of Highland High School.

Aradeli Ibarra
Mother and RFK Student
Aradeli and her two sisters all attend RFK Charter High School. She enrolled after she failed to pass the GED acceptance exam and is determined to succeed. She hopes to earn a license as an early childhood educator and start a childcare business.

José Muñoz
Executive Director of ABC Community School Partnership
José has been working tirelessly to scale up community schools since 2012. A former professional football player, José has a long history of working on behalf of youth, especially those in greatest need. José supports a unique partnership between Albuquerque Public Schools, the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, the Albuquerque Business & Education Compact, and the United Way of Central New Mexico. José works with many partners including the Albuquerque Teachers Federation (which adopted a Community School Resolution), the University of New Mexico, and the Central New Mexico Community College.

McKane Sharff
School Based Health Care Program Manager, UNM Dept. of Pediatrics, Div. of Adolescents
McKane worked with children and families for 10 years. Her background includes health policy and research. As a program specialist for the School Based Health Center Improvement Project (SHCIP), she provides quality improvement coaching and support to School Based Health Care programs across New Mexico. She has a special interest in helping SBHCs gain Patient-Centered Medical Home certification and adapt to the changing health policy landscape.

Moneka Stevens-Cordova
Director Community Engagement Center, Health Leadership High School
Former Director of NM Youth Alliance
Link to Generation Justice Documentary about Moneka:

John Whalen
3rd Grade Teacher, Manzano Mesa Elementary


Wayne Johnson
Bernalillo County Commissioner District 5
* Member/Former Chair, ABC Community School Partnership
Commissioner Johnson has been involved in several important Economic Development initiatives. He led the County’s first trade mission to a foreign country, visiting Israel in the Spring of 2013 with members of the City, County and State Economic Development offices, business owners, and representatives from the University of New Mexico, the Albuquerque International Trade Alliance and the New Mexico Israeli Business Exchange. The group met with government officials, tech incubators, research centers and facilitated meetings for Israeli companies interested in doing business in New Mexico.

Born and raised in Albuquerque, Commissioner Johnson attended Sandia High School and the University of New Mexico, where he worked his way through college in television news as a news photographer. He graduated with a degree in University Studies with an emphasis in Computer Engineering and Film/Television, and is currently the president of Vista Media, a family-owned business started by his mother, Nancy Johnson, in 1975. Vista Media produces everything from commercials to documentaries to web content.

Kristine Meurer
Executive Director for Student, Family and Community Supports Division, APS
* Board member, ABC Community Schools Partnership
Position: Executive Director of Student Family and Community Supports
Kris is the Executive Director for the Student Family and Community Supports Division, Albuquerque Public Schools. Dr. Meurer has over 37 year experience in education and health promotion. She has been in her current roll with APS for 2 year. However, she was working as a health educator and athletic trainer in APS in the 1980s. Prior to coming to APS, Dr. Meurer was with the Public Education Department for 22 years.

Senator Michael Padilla
District 14 (South Valley Albuquerque)
Senate Majority Whip

Padilla’s primary focuses as a legislator are early childhood education and intervention, jobs and economic growth, water management and conservation, and child safety and protective services. Padilla was the first freshman senator in his class to move a bill through the legislature in his first year as a senator, and was the first senator in his second year as a senator to move a bill all the way through the senate. In 2014, Padilla was appointed chairman of the science, technology, and telecommunications interim committee.

Padilla grew up in Los Padillas, a rural farming community, that his family helped settle over 150 years ago, and is located inside of the district he represents. Padilla has been a lifelong member of the democratic party of New Mexico, serving as a precinct chairman, ward chairman, county central committee member and state central committee member.

5 thoughts on “Linking Communities and Schools

  1. Thanks for the program. Is there research to estimate parent engagement versus the activities provided in community schools? Does the parent involvement at some schools without community programs approximate the impact of the extra programming and staff hours?

    1. I haven’t seen any findings on that. I would think that family engagement without other strategies in place is unusual. Perhaps a complex study was done somewhere to look at the relative impacts of strategies, but I haven’t seen one.

    2. I wanted to just throw out some clarifying language.

      For clarification – family engagement is a component of community schools so anything would basically have to show whether or not there is a higher and deeper level of family engagement a community school. the differentiation would not be the community programs as the support services could be provided by a school district. The CS strategy really defines the components (for NM it is based on the community schools act) and the way in which they are implemented and work together to achieve a common goal.

    3. I’m not aware of any research showing that family engagement without “programs” have similar results. I agree with Tom, it would be odd. However, I’ve experienced how family engagement impacts the costs of programming and staff hours. One great example of this locally is the Pre-school Coop at Manzano Mesa. We can also probably ask Gene Saavedra of his experiences at Pajarito back in 2008 because their programming was limited, but family engagement was integral for their development. However, there were still programs for families to be engaged in.

      I would need clarification on three things to better answer this question:

      1. How do they define family engagement in their question:
      a. Families participating during the school day?
      2. Who are the staff?
      a. Teachers?
      b. Community based organizations?
      c. District?
      3. What is the “root” answer they are searching for?
      a. Is it worth having teachers or district staff involved in programs?
      b. Are they trying to see if they should focus on family engagement first and program later?
      c. ???

  2. What an excellent program in so many ways.

    Megan supported all and each of the participants in articulating their positions, successes, and obstacles in a clear and collaborative manner.

    • the community school coordinator is the glue that creates and sustains recognition and delivery of right resources to right places at right times.

    • “struggle” is not necessarily a bad or debilitating thing; it is the embodiment and generator of invention: “Necessity IS the mother of invention.”

    • Senator Padilla’s very clear description of how to approach a legislator (or anyone who is busy producing results) is so spot on: have a one-pager describing Situation-Mission-Execution-Administration-Communications; make a clear-clear-clear ask for no more than three specific things the listener can actually do; put an actual face and story to it (a child, a parent, a teacher, a principal)

    • numerous, probably overlapping, duplicative, funding streams exist – many of which regularly turn un-expended funds back to a general budget – which can/should be identified and directed towards sustaining full-time paid community school coordinator positions throughout ABQ/Bernco

    Kudos! And how can even more ABQ/Bernco/legislature people be exposed to this highly informative and critically important Public Square program!

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