FirstChurch’s work in public education was borne out of a partnership with J.J. Rhoads, an elementary school in South Dallas/Fair Park. In that work, staff and volunteers were exposed to the educational inequities that stem from larger, systemic social issues. In response, FirstChurch’s Church and Society group decided to take on public education as a focus area.
This group aims to support and extend the work of the schools in the South Dallas / Fair Park Community to make the Lincoln and Madison High School Feeder pattern the most desirable in DISD. The work of this group is aligned with that of the Zip Code Connection to empower the South Dallas / Fair Park community rather than solely provide charitable relief.
The strategy for achieving the goal is a Community School model:
- Shared vision and accountability for results. A clear, mutually agreed-upon vision focused on results drives the work of community schools. Agreements enable partners to hold each other accountable and move beyond “turf battles.”
- Strong partnerships. Partners share resources and expertise and collaborate to design community schools and make them work.
- High expectations for all. Community schools are organized to support learning. Children, youth, and adults are expected to learn to a high standard and to become contributing members of their community.
- Community strengths. Community schools marshal the assets of the entire community, including the people who live and work there, local organizations, and the school.
- Respect for diversity. Community schools know their communities. They develop respect and a strong, positive identity for people of diverse backgrounds and are committed to the welfare of the whole community.
- Local decision making. To unleash the power of local communities, local leaders make decisions about their community schools strategy while people in individual schools respond to their unique circumstances.
This group not only works directly with schools, under the community school model, but also advocates for more sweeping change within individual schools and the school system. Ideally, the partnership and advocacy, over time, produces children who excel academically, families who are involved with their children’s education, and communities that are stable and supportive.
Want to get involved? Contact Dana Friedel at 214-458-7545.