Community Schools Care

By on May 2, 2019
After school club Little Helpers showing their dog chew toys that they are making for Lollypop Farms. Volunteer second grade teacher Chris Edinger is center in the photo.

After school club Little Helpers showing their dog chew toys that they are making for Lollypop Farms. Volunteer second grade teacher Chris Edinger is center in the photo.

On March 27, 2019 the public was invited to learn firsthand about the involvement of the Greece Central School District in the Community Schools Program at an event showcasing how Community Schools are great for kids, families and communities. 

The event was hosted at Longridge Elementary School, 190 Longridge Avenue, Greece, by Kelly Sperduto, Teacher on Special Assignment for Community Schools. This awareness program gave community members, business executives, elected officials, service organizations, parents and volunteers the opportunity to learn about the Community Schools partnerships between the Greece Schools and their communities. 

The Community Schools strategy was developed in conjunction with ACT (A Community Together for Education) and the Learning First Alliance.

In addition to Longridge Elementary School, other participating Greece Schools include English Village Elementary School and Lakeshore Elementary School.

The Community School concept incorporates the idea that a community school is a place where partnerships between the school and community organizations members are set in place to benefit students and families. Together they place a focus on academics, services, support and opportunities for students and families. This combined involvement leads to improved student learning and results in stronger and healthier students, schools, families and communities.

During the 30 minute presentation, the Greece schools involved in the Community Schools program showcased the progress that has been made in incorporating this concept into their schools. The strategy involves identifying individual needs of the schools, students, families and the community and meeting these needs through a combined effort of all of the participants. The objective of the program is to create equitable access and opportunities for all students through expanded learning opportunities, early childhood development, integrated health and social services and family and community engagements. 

Currently the Greece Central School District Community Schools Program has over 90 community partnerships and the number is growing. These partnerships provide professionals, teachers and volunteers that conduct the after school and evening programs and mentor and advise students through the programs they participate in. 

Programs are incorporated before, during and after school and currently one half of the students participate in these programs. The main focus is to build deep connections between the school, the families and the community through healthy lives clubs built by using the community strengths. The result is stronger communities, schools, students and families.

Some of the many programs available at Longridge Elementary include: Gardening, Chess, Reading, Cooking & Nutrition, Yoga, Boys and Girls Sports, Little Helpers and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

Community members are also encouraged and welcome to help as volunteers and sponsors. Volunteers who have a few hours to give, and have a love for kids, can help with special events both during the school day and in the evening. Financial support and donations are also needed and appreciated in order to continue the programs and services. Opportunities for volunteers and sponsors include the adopt a garden program, foster grandparenting, after school social clubs, in classroom libraries and for the school backpack program that sends backpacks filled with nutritious food home with students for weekends and over school breaks. 

After the formal presentation student volunteers were assigned to take the attendees on a tour of the programs that were in session.

Our tour included:

Students and adult volunteers from Hope Church gather for the after school Longridge Reading Club. Reading Club is overseen by fourth grade teacher Becky Zelesnikar (standing right in photo).

Students and adult volunteers from Hope Church gather for the after school Longridge Reading Club. Reading Club is overseen by fourth grade teacher Becky Zelesnikar (standing right in photo).

•The Reading Program – Staffed by volunteers from Hope Church. This program encourages students to bring in their favorite books to read. The program is for second through fifth graders. Every week features a different book. Students take turns reading from the book and are supported by the Hope Church volunteers.

Little Helpers showing their affirmation bookmarks they made for students that are in need of some kind words.

Little Helpers showing their affirmation bookmarks they made for students that are in need of some kind words.

•Little Helpers – This program teaches children to participate in community service. The goal of Little Helpers is to, “Help people, not just in our school, but also in the community.” On the day of the visit students in kindergarten through fifth grade were making book markers with positive affirmations that are given to students that are going through a difficult time or having a tough day. They were also making dog chew toys for the dogs at Lollypop Farm. Other projects include Hope Rocks and Hygiene Packages.

The after school Longridge Kung Fu Club headed by Master Instructor Paul Gruschow (back center) focuses on self discipline, leadership skills and character development.

The after school Longridge Kung Fu Club headed by Master Instructor Paul Gruschow (back center) focuses on self discipline, leadership skills and character development.

•The Kung Fu Club – The major focus of this club is to help with character development and leadership through the teachings of Kung Fu and personal fitness. Master Instructor Paul Gruschow has headed up the program for the past two years and said the focus is on the kids earning a belt through self discipline, leadership skills and character development.

Students from the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program enjoy time on the playground.

Students from the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program enjoy time on the playground.

•The Big Brothers, Big Sisters Program – This after school program teams and older student with a younger student with the older student in the mentor position helping the younger with support, encouragement and guidance through a one-on-one relationship.

silas-alvarez-billy-gibbons

Student tour guides Silas Alvarez and Billy Gibbons.

For more information about volunteer and donation opportunities in the Community Schools Program contact Coordinator Kelly Sperduto at 585-966-5755 or email Kelly.Sperduto@greececsd.org. 

Photos by Karen Fien