June 27, 2017

Several key community organizations have partnered to improve the education and lives of students at Howard Bishop Middle School, which just completed its first year as a Community Partnership School. The Community Partnership School model utilizes the collective impact of four major partners– the Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS), Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS), the University of Florida (UF), Santa Fe College (SF), and the Alachua County Health Department (ACHD). These entities have joined together in a 25-year Memorandum of Understanding to become one effective agent of change to provide services and opportunities for Howard Bishop Middle School  The pooled resources of these partners will be utilized to meet the needs of Howard Bishop Middle School students, families, faculty/staff, and community members, including extended services, hours, and relationships.

According to Howard Bishop Principal Mike Gamble, teachers at the school would previously dip into their own pockets or closets to graciously support students’ unmet basic needs. Now, the Community Partnership School provides these services for free including snack and meal assistance, mental health counseling, academic enrichment opportunities, clothing assistance and emergency support.

Through a detailed community needs assessment and input from Howard Bishop administration, the Community Partnership School has outlined two current goals. The primary goal remains to provide academic assistance allowing for growth amongst the lowest quartile of students, especially in the areas of reading and math, as well as allow students who have been retained catch up with their cohort. The second goal is to deliver mental health counseling and social support to assist students, teachers, and families in managing their behaviors and demonstrating appropriate behavioral responses.

Faculty members see evidence of positive change in students’ behavior and performance.

“I have 3 students who I know are getting counseling through The Nest,” said Dr. Chloe Winant, Science Teacher. “I can see a difference in their attitudes and I can see a difference in their learning. And that is really awesome.  They might not have gotten that if they hadn’t gotten consistent therapy on a regular basis.”

The Community (Partnership) School will help us reach more people. In my position as the Dean, I am sometimes seen in only one role, discipline. Some of my initial interaction with parents is based on that type of situation. There have been times where I can see a mom that is struggling in other areas so it is good to be able to say “I know we are meeting about this, but let me give you a referral so you can go and talk to these people (The Nest) about that.” I like that a lot and it kind of makes my job easier. LaToya Lopez, School Dean

The Community Partnership School model is not new. Born out of Harlem, New York, during the 1970s the Community Partnership School model was first adopted in Florida by Evans High School in Orlando in 2012.  The results of this initiative at Evans are groundbreaking.  The school grade rose from an F to a B with graduation rates increasing from 64% to 80% in the span of four years.

Still, the process of implementing change through a Community Partnership School does not happen overnight. Both Mike Gamble and CHS Mid –Florida Executive Director, Jennifer Anchors, stress that the partnerships which will make the CPS successful require time and energy to cultivate.  And, like all long-term goals, the Community Partnership School requires time, patience and small steps to make a big difference.

Demonstrate your support of Howard Bishop Middle School, A Community Partnership School by serving as an in and out of school volunteer, mentor, after/out school provider, and/or providing a financial donation to provide tutoring/counseling.  Contact the Children’s Home Society of Mid-Florida today via email Tarcha.rentz@chsfl.org or at 352-334-0955.