Wayne County, NY - October 2023 - Community Schools is a strategy that is driven by local connection - it includes local agencies and service providers partnering with schools to help meet the needs of students and their families within each community. The concept is not new but has taken hold across the United States. Wayne County has been at the forefront of putting this concept into concrete action.
As a nationally recognized leader in the field, Wayne County Community Schools recently hosted a large delegation of educators from Kern County, California. Kern County shares several similarities with Wayne County, including its primarily rural communities and large agricultural base. Both rural California and rural New York communities and schools can feel like policies and decisions are centered on the needs and circumstances of larger population centers. Linking Kern County and Wayne County helps small schools learn together about how to be place-based in a world that is heavily influenced by the happenings in Los Angeles and New York City.
Thirteen educators, administrators, and community leaders from Kern County spent three days in October touring Wayne County, visiting schools and communities, attending meetings, and sharing ideas and best practices. Their tour included visits to Sodus Elementary, Intermediate, and High School, Red Creek Jr/Sr High School, Clyde-Savannah Elementary and High School, and the Marion Jr/Sr High School. During their school visits, the team was able to step into classrooms and interact with our students. Additionally, the team visited the Sodus School Pantry and the Newark STEADY Work office and wood shop. In between site visits, the group attended a Wayne County Partnership meeting, a Wayne County Coordinating Council meeting, and participated in Multi-Tiered System of Support and Community Schools Roundtables.
They participated in a tour of Downtown Lyons, interacting with local organizations, agencies, and community leaders with the support of several local businesses, such as the Lyons Main Street Program, the Ohmann Theater, Evolve, Trom’s, and Imprint Coffee. They also had a chance to tour Black Creek Farms in Savannah to learn about the farm-to-school programs taking place in Wayne County. The trip closed with a de-brief session hosted in Rochester by the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes. This organization continues to be an advocate for the community schools strategy.
This visit complemented a similar event that took place last spring when a delegation from Wayne County Community Schools took a trip to Kern County to teach and learn about implementing the Community Schools strategy across multiple districts. Funding for this trip came from the Wallace Foundation and is a result of the leadership In the Community Schools arena by both Kern and Wayne County groups.
To learn more about Wayne County Community Schools, visit www.waynecountycommunityschools.org. To learn more about the West Kern County Consortium, visit www.westkern.org. To learn about the state-wide coalition working to propel the exploration and implementation of community schools throughout New York State, visit thruwaycoalition.org.