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turned this Georgia school around. It’s known as the community schools model. It brings community partners, educators and parents together to collectively confront learning barriers head on. The result: Students can focus on learning instead of just surviving. The collaboration gives students the services and support they need on site, under one roof -- their community www.gae.org | 11 school. The community school intervention model is strategic, ongoing and customized to the emerging needs of each student. Students don’t have to leave the school campus to receive critical health services, career and instructional coaching, childcare or counseling. Too often the delays of a social-service referral system fail to serve at-risk students who are emancipated from parents, lack transportation, work outside of school or are consumed with parenting. Woodley sees the practical value of the model. When the basic needs of students are met at school with community support, students learn more and faster. “For teachers, the main thing is attendance,” she said. “When you have students who are out because they have to navigate multiple systems, that impacts the classroom instruction. The student can go to the doctor for 30 minutes and be back in class. It reduces the number of students being out.” McClarin is on its last year of a three-year, $3.4 million federal grant, overseen by Oluwakemi Popoola, McClarin’s school improvement specialist. Her next steps include working with community partners to sustain the model built under the grant. “This grant has allowed us to transform this school from a failing school to a school not on the priority list,” Popoola said. In addition to a broad spectrum of community partners injecting resources into the school, the grant has allowed McClarin to hire two instructional coaches and help pay for a fulltime graduation coach and social worker. The school also hired a parent liaison and attendance specialist. The grant assisted with funding for train passes and sweep buses to pick up students from all over South Fulton. The in-house model gives schools a wealth of information to track emerging student needs.


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