When Evans High School opens at its new location in 2012, it will house a clinic offering mental health, health and dental care to its students thanks to a partnership with the University of Central Florida and the Children’s Home Society of Florida.
Evans will become Central Florida’s first community school, a place that engages students, parents and other community members by offering after-school enrichment, adult-education and social services programs in addition to its regular high school curriculum. The goal is to promote student success and help draw the community closer together.
“It will end up becoming a hub for neighborhood activities,” said Mike Frumkin, dean of UCF’s College of Health and Public Affairs. “Research has shown that increased cohesiveness among community members creates an environment where students succeed and improves neighborhood stability, safety and prosperity.”
Frumkin and David Bundy, CEO of the Children’s Home Society of Florida, share a vision of establishing one or more community schools in Central Florida. And both are committed to maintaining a long-term partnership, lasting a minimum of 10 to 15 years, which will support the initiative.
“At Children’s Home Society of Florida, our strategic goal is to ensure that children are safe, healthy and prepared for life,” Bundy explained. “We believe this community school model will enable us to meet that challenge; to help students succeed in school and in life, supported by stronger families and communities. UCF is a critical partner in this effort, providing invaluable hands-on resources in addition to vast research and analysis of effective community school strategy and practice.”
Frumkin and Bundy led a search to identify schools and neighborhoods that could clearly benefit from a community school. They then looked for school partners willing to take on such an initiative. They found one in David Christiansen, principal of Evans High.
“It is an exciting time for Evans High School,” Christiansen said. “A new campus is on the way, our graduation rate is at a 10-year high and now we are establishing a community school partnership between OCPS, UCF, the Children’s Home Society and JP Morgan Chase. This innovative partnership will allow our students to meet their full potential and our community to thrive.”
A $175,000 donation from JP Morgan Chase to the Children’s Home Society of Florida this fall has enabled the nonprofit organization to hire a director who will help launch and run the community school at Evans. The grant may be renewed on an annual basis.
“Chase has embraced our community school vision, making a generous contribution essential to our progress,” Bundy said. “Chase’s support funds the position of community school director, the critical convener of the Evans High family, local business and faith leaders, additional resources and on-site partners.”
Plans for a second community school at Friendship Elementary in Volusia County are currently under way.
At UCF, the College of Health and Public Affairs is taking the lead in helping to facilitate the development of the community schools. The College of Education is playing a key role a well, and the colleges of Medicine and Nursing also will contribute their expertise and resources.
“The community school initiative is very much in keeping with UCF’s goal of being a premier partnership university,” Frumkin said. “By combining our talents and resources with those of the Children’s Home Society of Florida and our partner schools, we hope to have a lasting impact on the lives of students, families and communities in Central Florida.”