Jefferson Junior/Senior High School in Edgewater threw a massive community party on Aug. 30, with music, barbecue, games and a lot of laughter.
But the party wasn’t just to welcome students and their families back to the school for another …
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But the party wasn’t just to welcome students and their families back to the school for another year, but to let the community at large know Jefferson is there to help.
“We’re taking all the amazing things we do at this school and collecting them in one place for our families and community members,” explained Rhiannon Wenning, a teacher and representative for the school’s new community resources center. “We want to make sure everyone is represented and their voices are heard.”
The student population at Jefferson, located at 2305 Pierce St., is about 90 percent free and reduced lunch, which means not only students but parents experience a unique range of challenges, explained Michael James, the school’s principal.
“We’re trying to be smarter about how we organize our resources for families,” he said. “We have a lot going on for our families, when it comes to social services, and we want them to have access to what we offer.”
The resources center is inside the school, and by working with the Edgewater Collective, a local nonprofit focused on supporting neighborhood schools, the center will open to the community’s adults during school hours.
“We’ll have resources for housing, food assistance and homelessness prevention,” said Josh Shellard, assistant principal and activities director. “We realized the students in our area need extra support, or they won’t be able to come to school or succeed here.”
Opening the resources center is a step to making Jefferson the center of the community, Wenning explained. The school has embraced the community school model, which includes focusing on strong academics, shared leadership, and parent engagement.
Part of the process was knocking on doors in the surrounding neighborhoods and hearing firsthand what kind of help and services the school could provide.
“We heard about education opportunities for adults, so that’s something we want to work toward,” Wenning said. “We’re going to be providing the necessary training to make sure we can all work together to do the best for the kids.”
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