NM Community Schools Newsletter

September 2020 - Coordinator Appreciation Week Special

Table of Contents

1. Implementation Grant Update

2. Coordinator Meet and Greet Summary

3. State Policy Update: Improving Education the New Mexico Way

4. Community Schools in the News

5. Coordinator Appreciation Week

6. Messages from Our Partners

7. Calendar of Events

8. Recurring Events

9. NM Community Schools Coalition

10. Want to Help With Our Newsletter?

Implementation Grant Update

SY2020-21 Funding

  • Award letters have been sent via email! We appreciate your patience.
  • All Community Schools' award letters will have a period of performance from 7/1/2020 - 6/30/2021; therefore, allowable and allocable expenses will be reimbursable as of July 1, 2020.
  • For those award recipients who received their award letters on September 17th and didn't have budget authority for SY2020-21, please complete and submit the Budget Adjustment Request (BAR) via the Operating Budget Management System (OBMS) by September 30, 2020. In OBMS, attach a copy of the award letter for the BAR and the SY2020–21 Budget Detail by Element and Benchmark Worksheet reflecting how funds will be utilized within the allowable purchases.
  • For those award recipients without current approved budget authority, you are encouraged to keep funding essential staff to the Community Schools Implementation grant, such as Community School coordinators, through operational funds until you have established budget authority through the Community Schools Implementation grant. Please consult with the NM PED Community Schools for any other questions.

Coordinator Meet & Greet Summary

We had a great Coordinator Meet & Greet on Wednesday, September 9th. Thank you to all of the coordinators who joined us on Zoom. We are dedicated to building a community of support among coordinators in New Mexico, and this has been a great first step.

Please find below a summary document of responses gathered during the event.

State Policy Update: Improving Education the New Mexico Way

On September 23, Dr. Jeannie Oakes shared with the Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC) findings of a 18-month study by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI). Using interviews, site visits, document review, new analyses of PED data in combination with scientific research, the study aimed to recommend evidence-based ways that New Mexico policy leaders can support significant improvement.

A central finding is that improving education “the New Mexico way” requires using the state’s rich geographic, cultural, and linguistic diversity—including authentic collaboration with tribes—as an asset that can increase learning by building on students’ prior knowledge and experience. Reforms here must also recognize that poverty does not prevent learning, but it erects barriers that can be mitigated by smart policy and resources. Students who face learning barriers from poverty or cultural marginalization are the norm in New Mexico, and their needs must be at center of the education system--not treated as exceptions who need supplemental services. They should be the core focus as state policymakers work to establish meaningful learning goals, build educators’ knowledge and skills, provide student supports, spread high-quality early childhood, and make school funding adequate. Importantly, this approach will also work well for more advantaged students.

Community schools is one evidence-based approach for doing that. In fact, one of LPI’s key recommendations is that state policymakers provide the resources and support to, over time, enable all schools in communities of concentrated poverty (currently almost half the schools in the state) to become community schools. Community schools is not a “one size fits all” education program, but rather an approach that, while built on four evidence-based pillars, can vary in ways that capitalize on the strengths and meet the needs of diverse communities. They also integrate supports to mitigate the barriers raised by poverty into their core operations--addressing the 2018 Martinez/Yazzie findings about the need for and shortage of expanded learning time and the lack of social and health services available to all at-risk students. Community schools are also promising sites for developing culturally and linguistically relevant curriculum and instructions.

To make progress toward this goal, even as we recover from COVID-19, state policymakers can do the following:

· Support districts to blend and braid state and federal program funds to support community schools by permitting combined applications, budgets, and reporting.

· Position community schools to become hubs for aligned and coordinated programs across state agencies to increase access, as well efficiencies by avoiding duplication of supports for children and families.

· Develop targeted educator professional development programs that teach the competencies required for managing successful community schools.

· Require sufficient data to enable oversight of Community Schools and to inform ongoing school improvement.

In the longer term, the state can make new investments that include the following:

· Reinstate funding for K–5 Plus and expanded learning time programs and increase investments in community schools.

· Provide regional technical assistance and professional development to help districts implement community schools and expanded learning effectively, including tribal collaboration where appropriate.

Community Schools in the News

Coordinator Appreciation Week

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Lt. Governor Thanks Community School Coordinators
Coalition for Community Schools Celebrates Coordinator Appreciation Week

Celebrating Our Community Schools Coordinators

This month, we are highlighting the work of coordinators across our state who are contributing invaluable work in the public education system and in their communities. We hope the following stories inspire and encourage you in your efforts.

We have chosen to highlight one coordinator under the umbrella of each of the four community school pillars, but we recognize that there are many more coordinators in our state with inspiring success stories to be shared. For this reason, we invite you to shout-out a coordinator in your district in a future newsletter by filling out the survey below.


Integrated Student Supports - Paula Oxoby-Hayett

Paula Oxoby-Hayett joined Enos Garcia Community Elementary School in Taos as a Community School Coordinator in August 2019, but felt, during her first few months there, that she was mostly playing catch-up. As part of her needs and asset assessment process, she gathered data on parent needs primarily by surveying those parents who attended student events at the school, but she quickly realized that the data she was collecting was not truly representative of the depth of need she knew her students and their families were experiencing — what about the parents who could not make it to optional after-school activities?

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe and her school temporarily closed its doors, Paula scrambled to find a way to assess the level of need she knew was skyrocketing in the wake of widespread lay-offs and other destabilizing forces in her community. Thinking quickly, Paula partnered with her school’s IT team in order to turn their technology distributions into a joint data-gathering and resource-distributing operation. Equipped with a face mask, a stack of surveys, and lots of coffee, over the course of several long days, Paula welcomed parents as they lined up at the school to receive laptops for their children and thanked them for their time and effort, as they filled out her survey with school supplies. Paula also partnered with the nursery center at her school, conducting home visits to gather responses from the few parents who had been unable to attend the technology distributions. In this way, Paula was able to collect a total of 327 parent surveys for a student population of 425, which when accounting for multiple siblings attending the same school, brings her percentage of parents surveyed very close to 100%. Now that is some creative determination!

Reviewing the survey responses, Paula quickly discovered that families were struggling with the new and monumental task of facilitating remote learning. Survey data revealed that, in the case of remote learning, it truly does take a village: parents, but also grandparents, older siblings, aunts, uncles, and even neighbors were working together to ensure that students learning from home were being supported throughout their day. It was also clear, however, that many of those supporting children needed assistance: 40% of surveyed parents reported struggling with just turning on the computer, opening an internet browser, and accessing Canvas/Seesaw. Survey data also revealed the huge financial and emotional impact of coronavirus on parents: over 40% of parents reported having their income reduced since the start of the pandemic, many reported not having enough time for self-care, and others had lost loved ones to the virus.

In order to follow-up on these surveys, Paula was lucky enough to receive the assistance of the school’s educational assistants (EAs), who helped her organize the data and begin making follow-up calls to parents. Using a resource guide they developed to address the most pressing family needs, Paula and her team of EAs called hundreds of parents and helped them obtain school supplies, food, mental and physical health services, immigration assistance services, tutoring, information on after-school activities, and more. In response to the many parents who reported they struggled to create a designated learning space for their children, Enos Garcia Elementary also partnered with a local high school to distribute 90 desks to students. Paula says she conceptualizes the needs at her school as a pyramid: at the bottom tier are those basic needs like school supplies that they can address quickly and relatively easily; at higher tiers are those families who have needs that require more specialized attention and time. For Paula, this surveying campaign in the wake of the pandemic is just part of a much longer process of integrating student and family supports into Enos Garcia Community Elementary School, so that they can begin chipping away at this ‘pyramid of needs’ for good.

Well done, Paula! We want to thank Paula, and all coordinators in our state and across the country, for doing so much to help our students, families, and communities navigate this time of uncertainty. We believe that the targeted student supports built into the Community School model not only put Community School coordinators in the position to respond rapidly and flexibly to crises in their communities, we also know that they are a great solution to reducing out-of-school barriers to education in the long-term.

Collaborative Leadership and Practices - Alma Arango

Alma Arango joined Hawthorne Community Elementary School in Albuquerque as Community School Coordinator three years ago, after 16 years as a teacher in the public school system. At the time, facing possible closure after years of difficulty, Hawthorne Elementary looked to the Community School model as a possible remedy to the school’s most urgent problems.

Joining the school in this turbulent time, Alma got quickly to work creating a shared leadership council with various stakeholder representatives. The community, Alma says, were very responsive to her efforts and rallied enthusiastically around the school in order to help turn things around.

Three years of hard work later, a majority of the council — which includes neighbors of the school, a parent, a small business owner, school staff and administration, district personnel, Albuquerque Public Schools board member Barbara Petersen, and State Senator Mimi Stewart— have remained actively engaged in the work of shared leadership. Alma says that this long-term commitment from a majority of council members has helped to smooth transitions between school years and has also helped to give stakeholders ownership over major decisions, increasing buy-in from the school staff and community and helping the school to flourish.

Alma says the council has become “like a family” and while she misses the personal connection of meeting in-person, she has otherwise adapted well to the new virtual landscape necessitated by the pandemic. Meeting early in the morning before the start of the school day is, if anything, easier to do now that council members all join from home. Alma recognizes that remote learning has reduced communication between schools and parents more broadly, however, and says she plans to recruit more parents to the shared leadership council this year to ensure their voices are being heard.

When asked about the greatest challenges faced by shared leadership at Hawthorne Elementary over the past three years, Alma says the greatest obstacle at first was simply educating many at the school and in the community about what a community school is and does. Three years on, she says, awareness has greatly improved, and many students and families even recognize community members on the shared leadership council when they help out around the school and at events. She says it was also a delicate process to come to an understanding with administration on the role of the shared leadership council in decision-making, and to show administrators that the council was there to alleviate their burden, so they could focus on academics. Now the administration and the leadership council work in tandem to address issues and improve the school.

When asked about how she was able to maintain such a strong and successful shared leadership structure at Hawthorne Elementary, Alma underlines the importance of the support she has received from the ABC Community School Partnership and her peer coordinators. “When I started at Hawthorne Elementary, I knew the system, I knew APS, but I didn’t know how to be a coordinator; they helped me learn.”

Thank you Alma, and thanks to all our coordinators in across New Mexico for creating investment in your schools by so effectively engaging community stakeholders in shared leadership systems. You are the best!

Expanded Learning Time & Opporunities - Hilda Pérez-Vargas

Hilda Pérez-Vargas became the site coordinator at César Chávez Community Elementary School in Santa Fe in December 2019, after eight years working at the school as a parent/community liaison. Early in her tenure as coordinator, prompted by an unfortunate series of episodes of teen violence in which local youth lost their lives, the school’s principal Amanda Chavez approached Hilda with her concerns over the lack of healthy outlets for teens in the community. Amanda presented Hilda with the idea of a Community Youth Hub for 11-17 year-old students that would be youth-led, trauma-informed, and stigma-free. The two envisioned an open collaborative space for teens in which the students could plan and complete the projects they envisioned while building confidence, developing leadership skills, and fostering ties with other youth. Hilda says that the two educators wanted to get away from the usual conceptualization of “at-risk youth” — she wants all young people who come to the Hub to feel proud of themselves and have dignity, regardless of the hard life they have experienced. As the plan came together, they reached out to numerous community partners — including Gerard’s House (a center for grieving children and families), EarthCare (a youth leadership organization), Community School staff members at Santa Fe High School, and the Interfaith Coalition — to help make their plan a reality.

César Chávez Elementary has been a pioneer in mentorship programs in the state by pairing up high school mentors with elementary students. The impact that a sense of responsibility and accountability has on a teenager can be profound. Countless of these high school mentors have spoken about the change that their new position, as a role model, has had on their conception of self and their role in the community. Hilda wants to bring this positive experience into the creation of the Youth Hub. “If you give teens responsibility, they will take that and run with it,” she says. “They take ownership of that responsibility and start to feel proud of themselves.” Teen leadership is crucial to the success of the Hub, Hilda says. The Youth Hub will have a Board of Teens who are committed to organizing in the community and who will be guiding the entire movement. She envisions other students coming and going as they participate on individual projects of interest to them or staying longer as they take up leadership positions. She wants parents in the community to stop asking, “Where are our kids going after school?” And, more than anything, Hilda wants Santa Fe to stop losing children to violence and to the prison system. She believes the Youth Hub can be part of the solution.

The biggest challenge they face now in getting the Youth Hub off the ground, Hilda says, is COVID-19. In the meantime, they are working with local muralists to discuss the possibility of a socially-distanced mobile mural project to start getting community youth involved. “We have the leadership, passion, drive from community partners — we’re just waiting on approval from the school district and the end of the pandemic!”

Thank you, Hilda. And so many thanks to all our New Mexico coordinators for creating programs that engage children in learning outside of the traditional bounds of the classroom. Expanded learning time and opportunities are an invaluable component of the Community Schools model. It is the innovative thinking of our coordinators, who are so in tune with your communities and bring about these most regionally and culturally responsive examples of extended learning. Thank you for continuing to amaze and change the world.

Family and Community Engagement: Community Schools in Sierra County

Sierra Strong: Community Schools in Sierra County:

By Rev. Dr. Anne Hays Egan with Dr. Renee Garcia and the TCMSD Community Schools Team

Throughout August, families from Arrey called the Community Schools Coordinator, Yolanda Tafoya for help. Many were facing layoffs. They needed food, clothing, medical attention and support for making a transition to digital learning. Not someone easily sidetracked, Yolanda moved forward to make a difference. Within weeks, she had helped over 120 families in this small town in Sierra County through the food pantry. She developed partnerships with agencies throughout the region that serve as a model for family and community engagement. By mid-September, Jim’s Grocery was donating $500 to $700 a week in groceries; Celebration Ministries was helping out; and Roadrunner Foodbank in Albuquerque had promised a trailer. Yolanda has worked one-on-one helping families to get broadband or a “hot spot” for online learning. She’s developed Enrichment Packets and works closely with teachers. The Arrey Elementary Principal, Sergio Cardona, has been a strong leader, partner, and supporter of Community Schools, which has moved the program. Partnerships make a difference in our lives and multiply our effectiveness for collective impact.

The other Community School in Sierra County is Hot Springs High in Truth or Consequences. There are three Community School staff: The Community Schools Coordinator (CSC), Family Student Engagement Coordinator (FSEC), and School Psychologist. The Coordinator, Asha Baker, met each family at registration. She and Marisol Garza, the FSEC, met with parents as students were registered, to ensure that they understood how the digital learning was moving forward. The School Psychologist, Anna Constant, met with students and worked with them to ensure they were being scheduled for classes they need to graduate and took on the role of Student Assistance Team Coordinator to ensure students receive the support they need to be successful. During registration, this Terrific Trio met with hundreds of families. They followed up with many families in need, helping them to access resources and services, including the food pantry, employment services, and resources for GED. TorC’s Matthew 25 partnered to provide basic needs and supports for the Hot Springs Food Pantry for families in need. Team members met with students and families that speak Spanish as their first language, providing translation and family supports. Team members have followed up with students and family members to ensure they had access to the internet or a “hot spot,” helping with challenges we all face in the transition to digital learning. They worked with Principal Ryan Peil to support him in setting up a Resource Room for students and family members. It is a learning lab, place for mentoring and tutoring, and safe space for students and families. The FSEC Marisol Garza has helped families on the new Virtual Learning Management System Schoology. She has used her tech skills to support our parents access their students’ instruction. The team models collaborative leadership in action.

All of the Community Schools staff serve as resources to teachers. The Hot Springs High School team has helped identify some students at risk of being dropped from rolls, working to help those families re-connect and address challenges. The teachers, administrators and district leaders have started a new school year with multiple challenges. The Community School Team is committed to helping all of these stakeholders navigate the very difficult terrain we all face for “School in SY2021.” Challenges include: the impact of COVID-19 on the county’s economy and family earnings, broadband access in this county, and shifting to online learning. Although there have not been many COVID cases in this region, the economic impacts of shuttering have been devastating to the local economy. The Sierra County Manager, Bruce Swingle, TCMSD School Superintendent, Dr. Channel Segura, and the Community Schools Team have helped many families address these real challenges. Our TCMSD Superintendent and School Board President, Brett Smith, are strong supporters of Community Schools. This sort of active and supportive leadership makes a significant difference in what we can accomplish.

The TCMSD Initiative, called Sierra Strong is just that because of the many hands at work, making a difference. Community Schools is led by Dr. Renee Garcia who is the champion and heart of Sierra Strong, and someone who models these values. Our hats go off in thanks to the teachers, administrators, students, and families who are walking through a new and different landscape, without much of a map. We are finding our path forward together, to learn in new ways, by helping one another. Many days are stressful. It is not easy. However, the work is more important now than ever. TCMSD is extremely grateful for every partnership we have developed with community organizations. With each activity, each partnership, and each outstretched hand, we can help make a difference in the lives of the students, families, and teachers.

Let's Honor our Coordinators!

Coordinator Appreciation Week is here-A great time to build some policy champions.

What’s an easy way to do this? Contact your state and local elected leaders and executives and ask them to introduce resolutions and proclamations to recognize Coordinators Appreciation Week.

It's Easy, Simple, Effective. We’re asking you to... 1) take an hour or even less this week to coordinate with your community school colleagues, 2) reach out to your State and local elected officials, and 3) ask them to celebrate your Community School coordinators through a resolution or proclamation. Here’s a template that you can use. Then please 4) post on your social media with #CoordinatorsRock to let us know when you've secured a resolution or proclamation. The more elected officials that participate, the more champions we can grow to advance Community Schools!

Also, our coordinators will feel the love from the US Congress as well. For the second year in a row, the US House and Senate will recognize Coordinators Appreciation Week with a Congressional resolution sponsored by our champions Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) in the House and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in the Senate. We’re excited to build on the momentum from last year to grow more Congressional champions - if your Representative and/or Senators didn’t co-sponsor it last year (check here and here), we encourage you to reach out and ask them to co-sponsor it this year. Please reach out to Mary Kingston Roche with the Coalition for Community Schools at rochem@iel.org so she can support the request.

Thank you in advance for your advocacy and let's show everyone that #CoordinatorsRock!

Messages From Our Partners

A Mental Wellness Education Program at No Cost to Your School

In January of 2020, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico provided a grant to EVERFI to launch a statewide mental wellness education program that is available at no cost for middle and high schools across New Mexico.

Mental Wellness Basics, a digital course developed by leading education technology provider, EVERFI, provides a population-level approach to what is often viewed as an individual issue. Through a public health lens, Mental Wellness Basics provides students with opportunities to explore their own mental health and identify challenges that they may face. The course helps students develop concrete strategies for managing those challenges, while increasing their awareness of resources and empowering them with the knowledge, skills, and language necessary to identify and support a peer who may be struggling.

The Mental Wellness Basics course is designed to be integrated into existing lesson plans and curriculum for students in grades 8–10, or it can provide an additional resource of support from your school-based health center.

To learn more about bringing this critical resource to your school, contact:

Alyssa Kobernick



Calendar of Events (Save the Dates!)

NM PED Community Schools Convening

Tuesday, Sep. 29th, 9am to Wednesday, Sep. 30th, 12pm

This is an online event.

The theme of this statewide community school conference is "Serving Our Communities in a Time of Constant Change."

Keynote Speaker: José Muñoz

Vice President, Equity & Impact; Director, Coalition for Community Schools,

Institute for Educational Leadership

Keynote Speaker: Katarina Sandoval, Ed.M.
NM PED Deputy Secretary of Academic Engagement and Student Success

*This is a required convening for teams of leaders from each grantee site.Teams will include at least one Community School coordinator, one representative of the school or district administration, and one member of the community-based leadership team (e.g., partner, parent, teacher leader). Multiple members of each of the three categories above are allowed, up to five representatives per school.

By the end of the convening, members of Community School Implementation Teams will

  1. Know what supports will be available to them throughout the year;
  2. Be able to advance their practice within the four pillars of the community school model, and know which resources can support that action; and
  3. Feel empowered, motivated, and supported as part of the Community School movement in New Mexico.

NM PED Community Schools Implementation grantees should have received an invitation via email. Please register using this link.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

ELTP STARS Just in Time Training

Thursday, Oct. 1st, 1-3pm

This is an online event.

The purpose of this training is to:
  • Share the ELTP Reporting Guidance for SY2020-21;
  • Share a collection tool that you can use at your school or district;
  • Provide you with an opportunity to receive support with any questions or challenges that you may have.

Who should attend: STARS Coordinators and School Leaders

Please stay tuned for additional details.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Community Schools Just in Time STARS Training

Friday, Oct. 2nd, 1-3pm

This is an online event.

The purpose of this training is to:

  • Share the Community Schools Reporting Guidance for SY2020-21;
  • Share a collection tool that you can use at your community schools;
  • Provide you with an opportunity to receive support with any questions or challenges that you may have.

Who should attend: Community School (CS) Leaders, CS Coordinators, STARS Coordinators

Please access this training via this Zoom link.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Fall Into Place Convening

Tuesday, Oct. 20th, 9am to Friday, Oct. 23rd, 12pm

This is an online event.

This annual conference will be held virtually this year, from October 20-22, with a special post-conference specifically for community schools on October 23.

The conference will address social and emotional learning, how OST programs empower students to be leaders in their community, and STEM. There is also a pre-conference specific to 21st Century programming on October 21st.

*This is a required convening for teams of leaders from each NM PED grantee site.

Please register via this link.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Recurring Events

NEA Community Schools Blended Learning Cohort

The NEA Community Schools Blended Learning Cohort is a FREE and OPEN professional learning community of community school practitioners. The Network includes online/virtual learning modules, monthly virtual cohort meetings, and--as soon as we can do this again--in-person convenings.

You can access the cohorts by creating a free edCommunities login here, and then search for Community Schools Cohort 2, which provides information on 1) getting started, 2) the needs and asset assessments, and 3)engagement. Or select Cohort 3, which provides information on 1) problem-solving, 2) implementation, and 3)improvement science. Access the learning modules by creating a free login at the Learn Upon Platform here.

The Next Cohort 3 virtual monthly meeting: Monday, October 5th, 11:00AM MT

The Next Cohort 2 virtual monthly meeting: Wednesday October 28th, 9:30AM MT

If you have questions, contact David Greenberg at GreenbergDavid5@gmail.com.

NM Community Schools Coalition

The 2019 New Mexico Community Schools Act calls for the NM PED to appoint a New Mexico Coalition for Community Schools. This Coalition was launched in 2019, and has representation from community school experts and practitioners from around our state.

The Coalition's last meeting was September 25th. We discussed "Improving Education the New Mexico Way" with Dr. Jeannie Oakes and discussed other statewide projects, including the upcoming PED Community Schools Convening and an exciting virtual community of practice opportunity with ECHO for Community Schools.

Want to Help With Our Next Newsletter?

Join our Statewide Communications Team:

Email Marangellie Trujillo at Marangellie.Trujillo2@state.nm.us and cc: GreenbergDavid5@gmail.com with your contact information. Become part of our growing team to connect with and get the word out about the difference Communities Schools are making in New Mexico.

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