NM Community Schools Newsletter

August & September 2021 – Back To School

Table of Contents

1. Welcome from NM PED Secretary of Education, Dr. Kurt Steinhaus

2. Editorial from Coalition for Community Schools, Communications Sub-Committee Chair

3. NM Community Schools Google Calendar

4. ECHO for Community Schools

5. Building and Implementing a Data System for Community Schools

6. Las Cruces Tests a New Approach to Bringing the Community to Community Schools

7. Rural Community Schools Coordinators Meet to Discuss Challenges and Opportunities

Welcome to the SY2021-22 Community Schools Newsletter from NM PED Secretary of Education, Dr. Kurt Steinhaus

Community Schools Newsletter Intro 09302021

This newsletter is for you – make your voice heard!

Over the last year, we at the Coalition for Community Schools Communications Sub-Committee have so enjoyed preparing this newsletter for community schools practitioners, school and district leadership, legislators, and community partners across New Mexico. As we embark on a new school year, we want to make this newsletter the best it can be.


We will make future editions more concise and readable, and we want to focus on amplifying your voices. Events and other general information will still be here, but will be provided in a new calendar format for your convenience. Articles will be shorter and we will be incorporating more photographs and videos when possible.


To make this vision for a better statewide Community Schools newsletter a reality, we need to hear from you! Tell us what you want to see featured in future editions, and let us know if you can contribute shout-outs, articles, photos, news, or event information to the effort!


Click here to make your voice heard!


Wishing you all a safe and successful school year,


Rachel Padilla

Communications Sub-Committee Chair

Grant Writer at Center for Community Schools, NEA-NM

Access the Brand-New NM Statewide Community Schools Google Calendar!

All upcoming event information for CS practitioners will be accessible from this Google Calendar. Event information will no longer be included in the newsletter, so please use this calendar instead for continuously updated information!


Please submit any event information that you would like shared with CS practitioners across the state by completing this form.

ECHO for Community Schools Kicks Off a New School Year

It has been said by many that it is hard to learn from other community schools practitioners, especially given the size of our state and the remoteness of some areas in New Mexico. With just over 100 community schools in the State of New Mexico, the question becomes, how can we learn from our fellow community schools peers and experts? The ECHO model is one such way. ECHO provides participants with learning opportunities that highlight best practices in the community schools field while offering opportunities for participants to take part in collaborative problem-solving sessions and receive immediate feedback.


The ECHO for Community Schools 2021-2022 series kicked off on September 2nd with its first session titled “Developing a Shared Understanding and Commitment to Community Schools.” There were well over 70 participants, including principals, community school coordinators, teachers, social workers and community partners from all across New Mexico. Session attendees were welcomed by Marangellie Trujillo, Community Schools and Extended Learning Coordinator and greeted by Deputy Secretary of Academic Engagement and Student Success, Katarina Sandoval.


During the first part of the session, Danette Townsend, Executive Director of ABC Community School Partnership in Albuquerque, presented an informational workshop on the community school strategy. The workshop highlighted the four pillars of the Community Schools strategy and reasons why this strategy is effective. Ms. Townsend also explained what community schools should look like in the planning and implementation stage.


A sample case was presented during the second part of the session to serve as a model for future case presenters. Recommendations were given on the case by session participants.


The session recording, along with the workshop presentation slides and the case recommendations can be found at the ECHO for Community Schools Homepage - https://padlet.com/educationecho/7x9ozj7j245ijss4.


Thanks to Hub members Alma Arango and Shawn Morris for this contribution.

Building and Implementing a Data System for Community Schools with Continuous Improvement Cycles

NM PED Community Schools presented at the 2021 STARS Conference on September 2, 2021 and provided STARS coordinators, community schools coordinators, and community schools leaders with an overview of the community schools strategy and the NM PED Community Schools Program (per the NM Community Schools Act), recapitulated SY2020-21 data collection and reporting, and shared how it plans to move forward with student-level and school-level data reporting in SY2021-22 to share a better community school story across schools in the state.


Community Schools Coordinators that shared feedback after the presentation highlighted the "Looking Back at SY2020-21" section of the presentation because it shared the importance about learning from our past to inform our present. History helps us learn, especially from our own mistakes, so we can adjust and improve in order to achieve results. During the SY2020-21, we learned we weren't collecting and reporting the community schools data in the same manner, so we changed the direction we were going and developed collaboratively a school-level reporting tool that helps us collect and report data across community schools in the state, the way we want to share the story, as a strategy and not as a program. In SY2021-22, we want to move forward with this strategic alignment while learning together in our community of practice.


If you weren't able to attend, or would like to see the presentation one more time, you can access the recording and slide deck via the 2021 STARS Conference (session 13) via the link below.


Thank you to NM PED-Community Schools for this contribution.

Las Cruces Tests a New Approach to Bringing the Community into Community Schools

One of the perennial questions for a community school is how to bring the community into the school. The benefits of doing so are well known—additional knowledge and perspectives in the classroom, increased student access to diverse and relatable role models, clearer connections between academic learning and real-world uses, engaging and effective project-based learning—but how do you do it?


In Las Cruces, an unusual partnership between a nonprofit makerspace, a nonprofit education matchmaker, and Las Cruces Community Schools is exploring an answer that could inform the approach in many other districts throughout New Mexico.


In brief, the nonprofit matchmaker—CommunityShare—provides an easy-to-use, searchable online platform that matches the needs and project ideas of teachers with the skills, knowledge and resources of community partners. Teachers and community partners sign up and describe their backgrounds and the types of projects and activities they’re interested in offering students.

The nonprofit makerspace, Cruces Creatives, helps by expanding the types of learning activities that are possible, by providing access to tools including textile equipment, audio and video recording hardware and software, 3D printers, CNC machines, a laser cutter, vinyl cutters, an electronics lab, and much more—many of which can be controlled remotely by computer files that students develop at home or in the classroom. Las Cruces Community Schools, as part of its mission to extend learning beyond the realm of the classroom, provides encouragement and support to teachers, including extra-hours agreements to compensate them for the additional time they spend planning and offering lessons with community partners.


This project is made possible by several funders, including Las Cruces Community Schools, The Stocker Foundation, the El Paso Community Foundation, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Their collective generosity has covered the operational expenses of bringing the CommunityShare platform to Las Cruces, as well as financing extra-hours agreements for teachers, project coordinators, and classroom mini-grants that can cover project supplies and the effort of community partners.


The results so far are promising. Despite the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers and community partners have been able to offer several engaging programs. In middle-school science classes, students, supported by both their teacher and a biology research scientist, experimentally tested different composting approaches to see which one might work best for their school. Another group of students worked with a fashion designer to make clothing out of recycled and reused material. Other students worked with a web developer to program a virtual museum filled with their own projects and those of their classmates (you can visit that virtual museum at https://sites.google.com/view/the-200-wing). Each of the teachers involved in these projects reported that the community partners, and the projects they made possible, helped keep students engaged and learning despite the challenges of the pandemic.


With the return to in-person instruction, additional partnerships are under development. As the project progresses, the team in Las Cruces will be sharing more information about results, partnerships, and the processes for achieving them through this newsletter. In the meanwhile, you can find more information about the project at https://www.communityshare.us/las-cruces/.


If you want to learn more or get involved, send a message to Patrick DeSimio at p.desimio@crucescreatives.org – and if you live in the greater Las Cruces area, consider signing up on the platform!


Thanks to Patrick DeSimio for this contribution.

Rural Community School Coordinators Meet to Discuss Challenges & Opportunities

Are you a community school coordinator for a rural school? Join us as we discuss ways to address challenges in our rural communities. Our first meeting, which included coordinators from three school districts (Peñasco, Santa Rosa, and Taos), touched on some of these challenges.


Building a sustainable community school when you are facing limited community resources, understaffed schools, and overworked school administrators requires developing innovative ways to meet our unique challenges. We believe that sharing ideas and supporting one another to create solution-based action plans will help us meet our student and community needs.


Our first meeting clarified the value of this type of support group, and we’d like to invite all rural school community coordinators to join in the discussion. Our next meeting is scheduled for October 18 at 1:30 pm via Zoom. Please contact Michael Noll at mnoll@penascoisd.com to obtain the meeting link.


Contact Adrienne Mathewson, CS Coordinator at Santa Rosa High School, amathewson@srlions.com (575-781-0036) for more information.