Lehigh Launches a Community School Partnership

Friday, September 10, 2010 - 5:00pm

More than 100 people came out earlier this week as Lehigh launched a community school partnership with Broughal Middle School. The Center for Developing Urban Educational Leaders (CDUEL) in the College of Education is leading this unique partnership in an effort to expand opportunities for students in urban schools.

Community Schools seeks to organize programs and services into one place, creating “one stop shopping” for students and families. The goal is to remove barriers to learning, create positive youth development opportunities, empower parents to strengthen their role as partners in education, and use the community as a living textbook. 

Broughal Middle School has an ethnically diverse population of 600 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students. The school is located on West Morton Street adjacent to Lehigh’s STEPS building at the northern end of the university’s campus in South Bethlehem.

Through CDUEL and community partners Just Born and the United Way, the Community Schools program is meant to build on the Bethlehem Area School District’s strong tradition of family support and community engagement and transform the school into the hub of the community.

Lehigh President Alice Gast said she was “proud to lead an institution that takes its role in the community seriously and whose people contribute their time and talent to making the community better.”

A key role for Lehigh students

George White, CDUEL director and professor of educational leadership in the College of Education, said he was “impressed by the enthusiasm the partners had in launching this venture, but more importantly, I was impressed with the excitement families and children showed.”

As part of the new partnership, said White, Lehigh has hired a community school coordinator to work at Broughal. Lehigh students will help run a homework club at Broughal and will act as mentors to the middle school students. This effort will involve Lehigh student-athletes in the university’s C.O.A.C.H. (Community Outreach by Athletes who Care about Helping) program.

On the national level, the Community Schools model has garnered significant attention since the appointment of Arne Duncan as the U.S. Secretary of Education. As CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Duncan created more than 150 Community Schools in high-need neighborhoods and has since championed the strategy as an innovative approach to supporting schools across the country.

The Community Schools model has been endorsed through the national Coalition for Community Schools by more than 170 national, state and local organizations, including the nation’s two largest teacher unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.

CDUEL’s mission is to promote school leadership development and build the capacity for community members, teachers and parents to cooperatively engage with the school in this effort. The Broughal Community School Partnership is a partnership with a shared commitment to improve the lives of students.

Broughal Middle School is the second urban middle school to form a Community School Partnership with the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. United Way’s Community Partners for Student Success (COMPASS) partnership links 12 area schools with their communities to provide resources and support to public education in the Lehigh Valley