NM Community Schools Newsletter

Jan/Feb 2021 - Beyond Wrap-Around Services

Table of Contents

1. Welcome from Ms. Nancy Rodriguez

2. Community Schools Publications

3. Integrated Student Supports

4. Social Emotional Learning

5. Mental Health Resources for Your School

6. School Re-Entry: What Does It Mean for New Mexico?

7. Community School Coordinator Corner / Shout-outs

8. Recurring Events

9. Calendar of Events (Save the Dates!)

10. Dedication to Dr. Karen Trujillo, former New Mexico Education Secretary

This edition of the Community Schools Newsletter is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Karen Trujillo, Secretary of Education, Emeritus and Las Cruces Superintendent, a longtime advocate for and champion of the Community Schools vision.

Beyond Wrap-Around Services: Integrated Student Supports in Our Schools

Welcome to this issue of New Mexico’s Community Schools Newsletter.

The focus in this month’s newsletter is the fourth Community Schools pillar: Integrated Student Supports. Addressing non-academic and out-of-school barriers to learning is critical to the success of students and their families. Teachers, administrators, and Community Schools leaders see, on a daily basis, how unmet needs can be obstacles to academic achievement. The editorial cartoon below demonstrates the disparities that students bring with them to school. When partnerships can be built or leveraged for community schools to address those disparities, the fourth pillar will be a strong support for the model and, more importantly, for New Mexico’s children.

The New Mexico Alliance for School-Based Health Care (NMASBHC) holds that children are most ready to learn when they are healthy. We support school-based health centers (SBHCs), school nurses, and others health partners to ensure that comprehensive, integrated, and culturally competent health care is available to all children. We are one of many community partners that can collaborate with Community Schools to tackle the challenge of access to healthcare. Our organization believes that the social determinants of health (SDOH) are also social determinants of educational attainment. The CDC’s definition of SDOH is: “the conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Examples include safe and affordable housing, access to education, public safety, availability of healthy foods, local emergency/health services, and environments free of life-threatening toxins.”

The needs assessments that Community Schools administer indicate which SDOH challenges are present. Where a community school is co-located with an SBHC (to locate SBHCs in NM, click here), a student/patient also will complete a risk/resiliency screening at their first visit to the clinic. That screening includes primary and behavioral health-related tools, as well as SDOH tools such as a food insecurity screen. The SBHC can be an important partner in addressing both types of needs, typically having awareness of the community’s resources. Where there is not an SBHC, the school may have internal resources in the form of personnel (often members of a health and wellness team), such as school nurses and counselors. When all of these resources are absent, Community Schools can, first, seek out new community partners (e.g., Medicaid managed care organizations or private clinics) and second, advocate for the addition of SBHCs, school nurses, school counselors, and social workers to their campuses. Whatever may be the case at your school, please know that the staff and volunteers that make up NMASBHC stand ready to be of assistance.

With gratitude for your commitment to the children of New Mexico,

Nancy Rodriguez, Executive Director (nancy@nmasbhc.org)

New Mexico Alliance for School-Based Health Care

Big picture

Community Schools Publications

NMPED Releases CS State of the State Brief

New Mexico’s 33 state-funded community schools provided expanded learning time and social and health services with community partners for 11,048 students in the last 1.5 years despite the COVID-19 pandemic. That's according to a report released on March 2, 2021 by the NM Public Education Department's Community Schools and Extended Learning Bureau. The report updates the progress in implementing the New Mexico Community Schools Act, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law in April 2019. Read the full State of the State Brief to gain an understanding of how the four research-based community school pillars are being implemented.

Addressing Education Inequality with Next Generation Community Schools Report & Webinar

On February 25, the Center for Universal Education hosted a webinar to launch the task force’s report “Addressing education inequality with next generation community schools: A blueprint for mayors, states, and the federal government.” The webinar examined what it would take to invest in and scale a next generation of community schools to neighborhoods across America, beginning with the school districts hardest hit by COVID-19 and education inequalities. Following keynote remarks, a moderated panel discussion of experts shared their perspectives on the unique ability of community schools to support whole child development and lay the foundation for 21st century teaching and learning.

View this webinar by clicking here.

Integrated Student Supports

Peñasco Community Elementary School Coordinates Support Services During the Pandemic

At Peñasco Elementary, a school in a rural district composed of students from 15 unincorporated villages and Picuris Pueblo, the Community Schools initiative is an unprecedented opportunity to coordinate student services in a comprehensive way.

Here is how the coordination works: PISD has partnered with El Centro Family Clinic, Taos Behavioral Health, and the Nurturing Center to provide on-site physical, mental, and dental health and social services. All of these providers are based in the district. When the district went remote-only due to COVID-19, the relationships that these providers had developed with families were essential in identifying students who lacked Internet connections or had other urgent issues (e.g., lack of running water, unpaid electric bills, stressful or dangerous family situations, student support services). The providers communicated these needs to the Community Schools Coordinator, who worked to connect that family with the individual, organization, or program that could best support them.

In the past, these programs (if they even existed at the school) often worked independently. Now, they are communicating with each other and collaborating--and not just with one another--but with the community as a whole. This is a powerful strategy for serving our students; in the first 40 days of this school year, these programs actively worked with more than half of the students in our school!

This is transformative work. School staff and teachers have seen these effective efforts to serve students and, in turn, have begun sharing information about students with whom they work. In greater numbers, families too have begun to reach out, requesting needed assistance.

This collaborative response to the needs of the learning community is also culturally-responsive work. The villages, including Picuris Pueblo, whose land much of the district sits within, have a long tradition of community building and working together toward shared goals.

As a result, the Community Schools initiative represents a revitalization of the culture and traditions of our community. The PED staff often say that Community Schools is a practice, not a program. The work being done at Peñasco Independent School District is an example of the truth and power of that statement.

Social Emotional Learning

Cuba Cares Calming Room

The Cuba Cares Calming Room has been a huge success for students in the Cuba Independent School District. Health and wellness are so critical in today’s world, especially with the isolation Covid-19 brings. With isolation weighing so heavily on students, staff at Cuba knew they needed to do something to enhance students' social and emotional wellness. The community school’s director and the Technology Network/Systems Specialist teamed up to create and launch the Cuba Cares Calming Room in the early summer of 2020.

The pandemic has been hard on students in Cuba, in the state, and across the nation. We are seeing an extreme increase in anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. It has been especially difficult to help students with their social/emotional needs while in a remote setting, because students are not able to walk to the counselor’s or social worker’s office when they are struggling or having a hard day.

The calming room was designed to address these issues and help students cope with the obstacles and hardships they encounter, from arguments with friends to feeling down or depressed.

The Cuba Cares Calming Room offers multiple coping tools to engage students: visual relaxation, guided meditation, coloring, puzzles, games, stretching and yoga, relaxation music, and other helpful resources and strategies. Students can connect to the calming room on their computer or cell phone. Regardless of where students sit, they are only a couple of clicks away from connecting to helpful coping tools and resources.

Student reports indicate the Cuba Cares Calming Room is meeting its objective. A high school student who struggles with depression, reports the calming room has been very helpful. She starts each day with meditation and ends each day with music relaxation. Her grades are up, and her anxiety and depression are down as a result of effective visits to the calming room.

A second encouraging report comes from a middle school student who plays the games and works the puzzles when he is feeling angry. “It helps calm me down before I get too mad”.

The Cuba Cares Calming Room has been a creative approach that is proving beneficial for our students. Its role in assisting students take control and mediate their emotional well-being and enhance their daily approach to life is heartening.

We salute CISD for their innovative dedication to their students' health, wellness, and success.

Please visit the Cuba Cares Calming Room by clicking here.

Mental Health Resources for Your School

Appleseed's 1, 2, 3 Eyes on Me Initiative

1, 2, 3 Eyes on Me is a collaborative, community-driven intervention to address the hundreds of thousands of New Mexico children who have been left to fend for themselves during COVID-19. New Mexico’s at-risk children are facing mounting food insecurity, have lost access to physical and mental healthcare, and sometimes - the basic human need of joy and connection.

1, 2, 3 Eyes on Me provides the framework and support to local communities to create a responsive and tightly woven safety net for these children.

Read more here.

BCBS Mental Wellness Curriculum

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.

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.

Find out more by emailing Alyssa Kobernick at akobernick@everfi.com.

Agora Cares

(505) 277-3013 or Statewide 866-HELP-1-NM (Chat option is available)

Sometimes it's hard to talk about our problems with family and friends. As trained crisis hotline specialists, our volunteers are ready to provide compassionate, non-judgmental help for anyone in need of emotional support. All are welcome to use our service, and it is not necessary to be "in crisis" to call or chat with us.

Read more here.

NM CONNECT Crisis and Access Hotline and App + Mental Health Monday Messages

1-855-NMCRISIS (662-7474) or download the NM Connect App here.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any kind of emotional crisis, mental health or substance use concern, you can find help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line or Peer to Peer Warmline.

Read more here.

Please click here to access Path to Wellness Mental Health Monday Messages, with resources for improving child wellness and addressing adolescent mental health and substance abuse concerns.

Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine Resources

The COVID-19 pandemic has created many new stressors for teens and their families. SAHM has assembled resources addressing several topics including: teen mental health and coping; parenting and caring for one’s family; resources for online education; guide to discussing social distancing; and sexual health considerations. We hope these resources are helpful to you, and encourage you to share them through your networks.

Read more here.


Are you looking for high quality mental health literacy information, research, education, and resources? At TeenMentalHealth.org, these invaluable resources are provided in a variety of mediums— videos, animations, brochures, e-books, face-to-face training programs, and online training programs. Materials are multi-faceted, designed to meet the needs of children, youth, young adults, families, educators, community agencies, and health care providers.

Read more here.

Love is Louder

To have a free, confidential chat with a trained counselor 24/7, text HOME to 741741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Attending to our mental health and supporting each other helps us cope with stress and anxiety while protecting our immune systems and physical health. Explore this website for some simple-to-implement ideas to care for our emotional health, cope with the challenges we are facing, stay safe and healthy, and look out for each other.

Read more here.

The Trevor Project


Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under the age of 25.

Read more here.

School Re-Entry: What Does It Mean For Our State?

NM PED School Re-Entry Guidance

Please find all guidance for school re-entry on the NM PED website by clicking here.

NEA-NM Releases a Survey of 3,000+ Educators on School Re-entry

On February 18, 2021, NEA-NM released a member survey of over 3,000 educators from more than 60 school districts across the state. This survey covers educators' experiences working remotely and in a hybrid model, workplace conditions and safety, vaccinations, school re-entry and more.

To read the survey, click here.

To read the accompanying press release from NEA-NM, click here.

Re-Entry for Lake Arthur Municipal Schools

The re-entry process at Lake Arthur Municipal Schools began a few weeks before the actual re-entry, with a survey to parents and students regarding their intent to return. LAMS leadership provided the parameters of return (small groups, daily temperatures as students enter the building, masks at all times, social distancing, frequent cleaning, etc.), so parents would understand both LAMS' expectations and the safety protocols put in place. While 96 percent of our students opted for return, 4 percent chose to move to full remote learning.

The LAMS school board approved the hybrid plan on February 2nd, allowing for in-person core classes and virtual electives. Following inspection and assurances, hybrid re-entry began on February 8th. The first day back, staff reviewed procedures and protocols with all students; some students even engaged in first-day, in-person academic activities.

What a thrill!

After that initial exhilarating day, the leadership team reflected on strengths, challenges, and opportunities to improve, and a subsequent list of adjustments was shared with all staff members. Life events did not slow and the following day began with a visit from NM Secretary of Education Ryan Stewart. It was with great pleasure and pride we were able to display our successful re-entry and the opportunities afforded through the Community Schools Grant, including our on-site, two-days-per-week doctor and our shiny new community fitness center.

Our teachers and administrators are absolutely delighted to have our students back on campus and extremely thankful for the parents' support and trust, the LAMS Board of Education, and the NM PED.

Elisa Begueria

Superintendent, Lake Arthur Municipal Schools

Community School Coordinator Corner

Shout-out to the Community School Team at Hot Springs High School in Truth or Consequences: Anna Constant, Marisol Garza, and Ashleigh Poirier!

The Community School Team at HSHS in TorC includes Ashleigh Poirier, CS Coordinator; Marisol Garza, Family & Student Engagement Coordinator; and Anna Constant, Psychologist . The mighty three have undertaken the Herculean task and created life-saving supports that have strengthened and sustained our students, learning community, families, and the larger TorC community.

This year, in response to the pandemic, the team of three has focused on drop-out prevention. Regular check-ins, counseling, referrals, mentoring, and home visits, access to a resource room and daily after-school homework help have bolstered our students' and families' resolve and provided the resources to promote and attain academic success.

Working with partner organizations in the community, the Community Schools Mighty Team of Three provided families and community members with referrals to food, health, and financial resources. In the future, they hope to build out additional enrichment activities for students and start work on campus beautification projects.

it is this level of dedication, creativity, perseverance, and love of community that astonishes, sustains, and uplifts our communities. We applaud the work of the team at HSPS. Thank you for your inspirational work.

Shout-out to Yolanda Tafoya at Arrey Community Elementary School!

Yolanda Tafoya, Arrey Community ES Coordinator, has been creating powerful community partnerships that address the needs of her learning and larger communities.

In the month of January alone, the Arrey CS Pantry provided groceries to 76 local households. Of the school's 91 students, 61 received case management services. Social work, health and wellness, and home visits provided these students and their families with critical emotional support and stability. Last month, 74 community members were provided with social work services, to address food insecurity, care packages for the elderly, and more.

Internet connectivity is a problem— especially visible during the pandemic. So, Arrey Community Elementary School provided students, who lack internet service, with mobile hotspots for remote learning. Connectivity has increased student engagement and the means to academic success. Extra after-school homework help, in the form of a daily Resource Room, too bolstered learning opportunities.

Your efforts and dedicated support of your community has been crucial to its health and vitality, Yolanda! Your community is giving you a HUGE virtual hug. Thank you.

Recurring Events

NEA Community Schools Blended Learning Cohort

The NEA Community Schools Blended Learning Cohort is a FREE and OPEN professional learning community, comprised of community school practitioners. The network includes online/virtual learning modules, monthly virtual cohort meetings, and in-person convenings just as soon as that is again possible.

You can access the cohorts by creating a free edCommunities login here . There are two options: Community Schools Cohort 2, focuses on getting started, the needs and asset assessment, and engagement, Cohort 3, focuses on problem-solving, implementation, and improvement science. Access the learning modules by creating a free login on the Learn Upon Platform here.

The Next Cohort 2 Virtual Monthly Meeting is March 30th, 2021 at 11:00AM - 12:30PM.

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

ABC Community School Leader Network

Purpose: Establish a network of learning and practice for Community School leaders.

Who: Existing & aspiring Community School leaders

What: Opportunity for issue-specific PD and peer-to-peer learning

When: First Friday of every month from 11AM - 12PM; starting March 5, 2021.

Please register by clicking here.

ECHO for Community Schools: A Community of Practice in New Mexico

What: The goal of ECHO for Community Schools (CS) is to provide effective, ready to use, and versatile tools and strategies in a virtual community of practice.

Why: To increase expertise and collaborative leadership for the 2020–21 school year.

Who: CS teams include CS coordinators, principals, teachers, and community members from the site-based leadership teams. All are encouraged to attend each ECHO community of practice session but at least one representative of each of the 29 PED funded community schools is required to participate.

When.:All sessions take place on the second Thursday of each month.

Building Resilience in Children with Social Emotional Support

Thursday, March 11, 2021

3:15pm – 4:45pm

On February 11, 2021, the ECHO for Community Schools focused on the theme of going "beyond wrap-around services." We discussed how community schools can transcend 'transactional' relationships with community partners/organizations and pursue a collaborative strategy for addressing students' needs and strengthening communities. The presentation featured guests from NMDOH, Roadrunner Food Bank, NM Appleseed, and others.

Please check out the Resource Library to review ECHO videos and documents related to this and every other session.

Calendar of Events (Save the Dates)

NMPED/NMASBO Spring Budget Workshop

Monday, March 29th, 9pm to Friday, April 2nd, 11pm

This is an online event.

This workshop provides the documents and information needed in order to prepare a budget for the upcoming school year. The Community Schools presentation is scheduled for Friday, April 2, 2021 from 9:15-10:00am.

Registration opens on February 24, accessible virtually at my.nmasbo.org.

$150 fee

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

ECHO for Community Schools

Thursday, April 8th, 3:15pm

This is an online event.

This session will be focused on the Active Family and Community Engagement pillar: "Families are our most important partners." Please join us in this community of practice.

Institute for Educational Leadership Family and Community Engagement Conference: Connected Together & Stronger Than Ever

Tuesday, June 1st, 6am to Friday, June 4th, 10am

This is an online event.

The 2021 National Family and Community Engagement Conference provides an opportunity to highlight innovation and high-impact strategies. This year, we are excited to spotlight The School District of Philadelphia. Join us as state leaders, school and district leaders, administrators, educators, community-based organizations, researchers, and families come together to focus on solutions that enhance and expand engagement through family-school-community partnerships. With pre-conference sessions, plenaries, workshops, deep-dive sessions, and more, participants will be immersed in many examples of high-impact engagement work occurring across the country.

Register here!

A Tribute to Dr. Karen Trujillo

Our statewide community school movement is grieving the loss of Dr. Karen Trujillo, a champion of community schools. Karen was committed to education and improving the lives of children and communities. She was deeply invested in the community schools movement, and the movement would not be advanced today without her care. In Las Cruces, Karen was a part of the community schools initiative since its inception. While working at New Mexico State University, she assisted in the initial work to prepare Lynn Middle School for its community school transformation, tirelessly engaging with families and community members about the community school process. As Lynn began implementing the work, she was a frequent visitor and supporter; she is pictured here in 2018 leading a Lynn Community Festival workshop with Lynn students.

When Karen campaigned to become a Doña Ana County Commissioner in 2018, she made community schools a part of her platform. Then, when she was appointed New Mexico Secretary of Education, she championed community schools at the state level. Karen worked tirelessly to ensure passage of the Community Schools Act in 2019, when the state first appropriated funds for a statewide expansion of community schools. This included spending hours of her time in committee rooms answering emails while waiting to personally speak in support of the Community Schools Act. Karen also continued visiting community schools (pictured here in 2019 visiting Lynn Community Middle School and hearing about a community-based art project).

Most recently, as Superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools, Karen led the launch of three new community schools in Las Cruces and oversaw the development of School Board Policy on Community Schools.

Karen supported the movement at every level, and she deeply believed in the potential of community schools.

Her memory lives on through our work across New Mexico. As we go about our day connecting schools with neighborhoods, families with educators, and students with opportunities, we are also connecting with Karen’s spirit and working to realize her vision for our state.

We already miss Karen as a leader, a colleague, and friend. Throughout her professional career, anyone who worked with Karen was touched by her compassion and her kindness. She made the world a better place, starting with her relationships with her family, colleagues, and friends. We hold her children, husband, extended family and friends close as we all mourn her loss; we cherish her memory and dedicate this newsletter to her.