Walter P. Webb Middle School in Austin, Texas faced closure in 2007. It’s not hard to see why. It had the lowest test scores in the district, less than half its students graduated, and attendance was spotty.
Today, according to the National Education Association, Webb Middle School is the highest performing Title 1 school in the city.
How did this transformation happen? The school adopted a community model. This approach gets parents and community stakeholders involved.
Quevette Terrell, who heads the Physical Education Department, was there for the worst of times during her 13-year tenure at the school. She told NEA that the school formed partnerships with several community organizations:
“We have organizations like United Way, Safe Place, Boys and Girls Club, Breakthrough Austin, and others who collectively take an active role in helping our kids succeed, and that has made the biggest difference—all the difference.”
When the school was on the brink of failure, parents and teachers came together and decided that closing the school wouldn’t fix the problem. NEA said they decided to tackle the underlying issues that prevented the students from succeeding: poverty, homelessness and language barriers.
A needs assessment revealed, for example, that many families lacked access to health care.
“Students were coming to school with toothaches, unable to see the blackboard, and with emotional trauma from difficult home situations,” NEA stated.
The community school coordinator now organizes services, such as a mobile clinic that visits the school to provide primary health care.
“Whether it be mentoring, wraparound services for families, or direct counseling, someone is stepping in to fill that gap,” Webb Middle School Principal Raul Sanchez told NEA.
He said teachers can now focus on educating their students. And students can focus on succeeding in school.
SOURCE: National Education Association | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty