RTSC: A Focus on Trauma Sensitivity
By Renee Williams, Project Director, RTSC
While the idea of trauma sensitivity has evolved within the last decade or so, community approaches to education, health, parenting (“it takes a village”), and other social issues have been around for a long time. John Dewey, Jane Addams, and the urban planner Clarence Perry all advocated for schools that served as the center of neighborhood social life, partnering with neighborhood-based social services while also educating children. The Industrial Age of the early 20th century, in many ways, was not dissimilar from our current Age of Information and Technology (sometimes referred to as the Third Industrial Age). In both eras, social reformers turned to community-based education and development to improve the lives of the disadvantaged.
In the 1930’s, Charles Manley and Charles Stewart Mott developed programs to serve residents of Flint, Michigan using vacant school buildings in the evenings. Their model is still used today, with credos such as: using community resources in the schooling/education curriculum; finding opportunities for parents to become involved in the learning process of their children and the life of the school; and partnerships with business, industry, and schools. “Everyone shares responsibility for educating all members of the community”.
The movement lost steam when federal funding was pulled in 1981.
In the early 2000’s, interest in the community school idea was somewhat revitalized. But after the Great Recession, with a dwindling amount of funding for education at both the local, state and federal levels, the idea is sounding better and better.
With a growing rate of children attending public schools with elevated Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and burgeoning mental health crises for students and faculty throughout the country, community schools don’t just make sense – but may just be the answer to many issues challenging schools today. Here is the modern definition of a well-developed full-service community school:
““A community school, operating in a public school building, is open to students, families, and the community before, during, and after school, seven days a week, all year long. It is operated jointly through a partnership between the school system and one or more community agencies…. To achieve their desired results, most community schools over time consciously link activities in the following areas: quality education; positive youth development; family support; family and community engagement in decision making; and community development.”
Our May webinar, presented by Salem State’s Dr. Claire Crane, is an excellent resource for those interested in practical applications and outcomes of the community school model. Click here to watch the webinar
1 Coalition for Community Schools. (n.d.). Community schools: Partnerships for excellence. [Program brochure]. Institute for Educational Leadership: Washington, DC.