School Administrator Toolkit
Vision: All students are physically, emotionally, and socially well with strong family supports so that each students develops to their own potential
The Ottawa Community Schools Network (OCSN) was formed to integrate the various health and community supports for students and families in the Ottawa Area into one seamless system delivered through existing school-based facilities.
The primary goal of Ottawa Community Schools Network (OCSN) is that all students in the Pre-K through 12 education system are physically, emotionally and socially well, and have strong family supports to ensure that each student is developing to his/her potential.
Using public schools as the nucleus of community interaction, OCSN brings together health and human services into the school building to serve students and their families through a “community school” approach.
Coordinating resources and services within the school setting removes many barriers for families and helps keep students in school. When students’ non-cognitive needs are met, they are free to expend their energy on learning.
The Network partners with local public and private organizations to meet the needs of the whole child by providing physical, social/emotional and mental health services to students and families of the Ottawa Area.
The goals of the OCSN are to:
- Improve academic and learning outcomes for students
- Decrease truancy and student absences related to health condition or family function
- Decrease need for behavioral intervention in the school environment
- Increase access to physical, social/emotional and mental health assistance for students/families
- Empower parents to serve as partners - not only their child’s education - but in school-wide improvement
- Increase the number of strategic partners that are formed between the school, local businesses and nonprofits.
OCSN is a collective impact effort to support the development of full-service community schools through staffing infrastructure and technical assistance.
- OCSN was launched in 2017 using OAISD and CMH Mental Health Millage dollars to begin the implementation of the community schools strategy.
- OCSN was started as a pilot in 5 schools between Holland, Coopersville, and Zeeland Public Schools.
- In the Fall of 2019, OCSN expanded into 6 new schools. OCSN now provides supportive servies in 15 schools between 6 districts.
A Community School Coordinator is the anchor of the community school model. Ideally there is one per school, and that person makes sure that all of the services and community providers are working together to ensure that students are getting the service most attuned to their social and emotional needs.
- Collaboration with schools and service providers
- Coordinating and linking families with local community resources
- Organizing activities for families and communities
- Developing strategic partnerships with businesses, faith-based organizations and other non-profits to meet the needs of students and the school.
Supervision of Services:
Oversight of day-to-day activities of the Coordinator(s) will be mutually shared by their respective building principal and the Director/Assistant Director of OCSN.
- OCSN Coordinators will receive a minimum of once a month supervision from OCSN Admin as well as attend a monthly OCSN team meeting. T
- he Director/Assistant Director of OCSN will conduct performance appraisals with input from the building principal and/or other key supervisory staff from the Participating District.
- Principals are encouraged to provide regular feedback to the Coordinator(s).
OCSN is financially supported by a variety of Ottawa County agencies and schools, and exists through braided funding. The following sources fund the program:
- Ottawa Area ISD – Provides funds to compensate the director position, technology, and other overhead costs of the program, and in-kind office space and supplies.
- Community Mental Health- Mental Health Millage dollars have been allocated towards helping cover the costs of the community school coordinator.
- 31n6 funds- 31n6 state funds are used to support OCSN schools with the intention of increasing access to mental services
- District Funding- School districts pay a portion of the amount support the cost of a full time coordinator position.
Guiding Principles of a Community School
Seven principles guide the community schools strategy. These principles provide a strong foundation for the pursuit of the community school strategy.
Pursue Equity: Educational excellence and equity are inseparable. Community schools work actively to identify and confront policies, practices, and cultures that keep students of different backgrounds from achieving equitable outcomes. Community schools proactively and intentionally empower those typically dis-empowered by barriers to participation.
Invest in a Whole-child Approach to Education: Meaningful teaching and learning embraces, but goes beyond, mastery of core academic subjects to include youth development principles; holding high expectations for children, youth, and adults; and developing social-emotional, health, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Build on Community Strengths to Ensure Conditions: Community schools utilize the assets of the entire community, including the gifts of those who live and work there, parents, families, and community partners to create the optimal learning conditions.
Use Data and Community Wisdom to Guide Partnerships, Programs, and Progress: Reliable and community-specific data, coupled with the wisdom of youth, families, and residents, guides how educators and community partners work together to achieve measurable results.
Commit to Interdependence and Shared Accountability: Student success requires explicit investment in collaborative planning and implementation between educators and community partners, and across program areas and disciplines. Mutually agreed-upon results and related indicators, as well as written agreements, enable educators and community partners to hold each other accountable.
Invest in Building Trusting Relationships: Deep collaboration takes dedicated effort and time, and becomes evident in the daily formal and informal social exchanges within a school community and between the school and the broader community. Trusting relationships fuel school transformation by helping to create a nurturing, safe, respectful climate where caring adults, families, and students come to rely on each other as part of a shared approach to student success.
Foster a Learning Organization: Improved student learning depends on a school community where educators and community partners work together towards continuous improvement. Time and support are available for individual and collective reflection and adjustment, as well as shared learning and professional development, to facilitate responsiveness to student needs