Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is ramping up its Community Schools program to better support students, families, and the wider community. Designed to bridge the gap between academic needs and community resources, the program focuses on a variety of services including mentorship, healthcare, and mental well-being. Currently, five CCPS schools are slated to benefit from the program, with funding and oversight by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Community School Coordinators help to assess the needs within a school and community, foster and coordinate partnerships, provide essential wraparound services to students and their families and commit to create equitable educational opportunities. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

The Community Schools initiative is part of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, aimed at improving educational quality and reducing achievement gaps statewide, according to the MSDE website. Since launching the first community school at Indian Head Elementary in the 2021-2022 academic year, four more schools have been approved for the program. Dr. Gustavus Brown, Indian Head, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, J.P. Ryon, and Eva Turner elementary schools will receive support beginning in the 2023-2024 school year.

Bethany Goodwin, CCPS lead Community School coordinator, stated, “Our Community Schools program is entering our third year in Charles County Public Schools. MSDE identifies eligible schools each school year and notifies our school system which schools are eligible to receive Concentration of Poverty grant funds through the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund.”

The program has a dedicated Community School coordinator (CSC) at each participating school. Marissa Ackerman, coordinator at Indian Head, said, “I look forward to working collaboratively to build a strong school community that knows and understands how to rely on and trust each other because we genuinely care.”

The role of these coordinators is multi-faceted. They address students’ social, emotional, physical, and academic needs, often partnering with different community stakeholders. “This year I am excited that our team was able to bring an on-site food pantry and a school-based health center that will open next year. Most of all, I look forward to watching our students grow in every way knowing they are safe, loved, and cared for at Indian Head,” Ackerman added.

Community School coordinators work hand-in-hand with school staff, students, families, and local communities. They facilitate the assessment of school and community needs, create and manage partnerships, and provide wraparound services to foster equitable educational opportunities. Goodwin anticipates the program’s expansion to additional schools in the coming years.

For more information on the CCPS Community Schools program, visit the CCPS website.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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