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TitleLightening the Load: A Look at Four Ways that Community Schools Can Support Effective Teaching
TagsMental Health Teachers English As A Second Or Foreign Language Classroom
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Page 1

Lightening the Load
A Look at Four Ways that Community Schools
Can Support Effective Teaching

Theodora Chang, with Calyssa Lawyer January 2012


e a












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10 center for american progress | lightening the load

�is understanding of the connection between achievement and wellness spurred
leaders at Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school network, to partner with
mental health and wellness professionals in 2008 when they took over and sought
to turn around the chronically low-performing Locke High School in Los Angeles.
Now they are taking the next step—opening a wellness center in fall 2012 for their
students and the broader community of Wa�s in the city.22 Green Dot reports
encouraging success with increased student pro�ciency rates in all subjects,23 but
quickly realized that more coordinated social services could further support the
academic gains they were making.

“When we �rst started, it was more about focusing on the academic piece, and as we
re�ned our academic model, we realized there were so many other issues that our
students were dealing with,” explains Erica Gonzalez, Green Dot’s director of public
policy and community partnerships.24 “We saw needs outside of the classroom that
were so important for their success.” �e wellness center will include a broad range
of services, including but not limited to:

• Tutoring and academic enrichment activities
• Programs for students who are chronically absent, truant, suspended, or expelled
• Nutrition services and physical activities
• Primary health, mental health, vision services, and dental care
• A teen legal clinic
• Parent education and adult education, including English as a Second Language


�e idea behind this approach is that students who stay healthy are more likely to
come to school ready to learn, which allows teachers to focus on classroom instruction.

Similar to Green Dot, Glencli� High School in Nashville, Tennessee, partners
with a health service organization to operate an onsite community health clinic.
�e clinic serves approximately 1,000 patients each year, many of whom are
students.25 In an area of Tennessee where half of young black males are borderline
hypertensive, diabetic, or overweight,26 easy access to health services is a signi�-
cant asset when it comes to keeping students out of emergency rooms and in the
classroom with their teachers.

Coordinated health care can be essential for keeping students in school. �is is
especially important for addressing high teen-pregnancy rates; only 50 percent

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Findings: Four ways wraparound services impact teaching | 11

of teen mothers achieve a high school diploma by age 22.27 Glencli� Assistant
Principal Adrianne Ba�le Koger describes a situation where a pregnant student
was not obtaining health care from outside sources. “A�er teachers and school
administrators noticed this, our health clinic sta� provided services and also
connected her with external providers,” she says. “�e community schools model
enabled clinic sta� to work with her teachers to ensure that she would stay on
track to receive her diploma, which she eventually did.”28

Another key way that poor health can hinder e�ective teaching and learning is
through a�endance. With the exception of innovations in virtual and distance
learning, students must be physically present in a classroom in order to receive
instruction from a teacher. Students in schools without health centers must leave
their classrooms and miss instructional time to travel to a doctor’s o�ce, even for
something as routine as an eye checkup, and teachers may have to adjust lesson
plans or spend extra time catching students up if there are lengthy absences.

Wraparound services remove these obstacles to education. Case in point: Students
at George Washington Community School in Indianapolis, Indiana, were able to
meet nearly all of the district’s immunization requirements without missing classes
at the beginning of the school year through the services o�ered through their onsite
health clinic. According to Principal Deborah Leser, many other schools in the dis-
trict struggled to get all of their students immunized at o�site clinics.29

Or consider Pleasant Ridge Montessori School in Cincinnati, Ohio, where
onsite health services are seen as a key way to help students maximize their
time in the classroom. “If I have a health concern about a child, I go straight to
the nurse and she handles it, which really frees me up to handle the academics
because I know the other stu� is taken care of,” says teacher Maureen Simon.
“We have services in our building, so rather than have the children miss a day
for health reasons, they can just get the services they need and then they’re right
back in the classroom.”30

Students are able to receive mental health, dental, and immunization services—all
at no cost to them. Simon also notes that the services are a good way to estab-
lish connections with parents. “It’s nice to be able to say to parents that there are
resources available here at the school,” she says. “You don’t have to take your child
someplace else for counseling or health care. We can do it right here, and I can
introduce you to the providers.”

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endnotes | 25

30 Maureen simon, interview with authors, June 2011.

31 anne t. henderson and Karen Mapp, “a new Wave
of evidence: the impact of school, Family, and com-
munity connections on student achievement” (austin,
tx: southwest educational development laboratory:

32 Katherine Jackson, interview with authors, July 2011.

33 “Gardner adult education program,” available at http://

34 lauren Fogarty, interview with authors, July 2011.

35 “Family support,” available at http://www.gardnerpilot-

36 Kristin shadford, interview with authors, august 2011.

37 Michelle d. anderson, “schools Facing rise in homeless
students,” Education Week, april 12, 2011, available at

38 Martin J. Blank and others, “Financing community
schools: leveraging resources to support student suc-
cess” (Washington: coalition for community schools,
2010), available at

39 Katy Jimenez, interview with authors, June 2011.

40 nick Faber, interview with authors, June 2011.

41 richard M. ingersoll, “Why do high-poverty schools
have difficulty staffing their classrooms with Qualified
teachers?” (Washington: center for american progress,
2004), available at

42 Kimberly Melton, “helping Middle schoolers take
next step,” The Oregonian, october 22, 2009, avail-
able at

43 Karl logan, interview with authors.

44 eric sokolove, interview with authors, July 2011.

45 “Medicaid, schip, and school-Based health centers,”
available at

46 adrienne Battle Koger, interview with authors.

47 Kayla robinson, interview with authors, June 2011.

48 sarah onorato, interview with authors, June 2011.

Page 32

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