The important work in a classroom doesn’t happen in a bubble. The supports surrounding students and their families play a vital role in creating an environment where a quality education is ready to be received.

Enter DeMarco Lowery’s team of Community School Coordinators.

“CSCs are the connection between schools, families, and communities,” said Lowery, the districtwide community school coordinator. “They focus on school readiness, incorporating culturally relevant events during the year, supporting student clubs and activities, and ensuring students have their basic needs met.”

Basically, everything a student needs outside of the classroom to feel engaged and invested in what’s happening inside the classroom.

This week, we give a special nod to our 43 Community School Coordinators serving in 51 of our schools during National Community Schools Week. CSCs like Jesus Cardoza, who serves at North High School, who appreciates the big and small impacts he can make on a student’s success.

“One story that immediately comes to mind is meeting a student who was a high school dropout,” said Cardoza. “This student faced multiple barriers to finding success at school. Through work with a community partner the family was able to connect to food and clothing over the holidays. This student was such a selfless individual that gifts received for the holidays, he gave to his siblings instead. Through our relationship building, he was able to re-engage in school to the point where we went on numerous college visits. I exposed this student to various skilled trades, hoping to broaden his view of the endless opportunities he had for his future. This student ended up graduating and is in his 2nd year at DMACC. Because of the work with this student and his family, his siblings are now more engaged in school – the success went beyond one student and influenced his entire family.”

Coordinating access to food and clothing, supporting Title 1 initiatives, arranging college visits, creating special community events, connecting families with healthcare providers, and showing students that the possibilities for their futures are endless, are just some of the many duties of a CSC. Gabe Carlson, community school coordinator at Hoyt Middle Schools, said his work wouldn’t be as possible without the support of community partners.

“Schools should always be the center of communities as we build up the next generation of leaders.” said Carlson. “We find our biggest successes when people in our communities support, enrich, and mentor our students. This unique role allows us to cultivate relationships and build students and families up to ultimately produce students who thrive as adults.”

Thank you to our Community School Coordinators for wrapping their arms around the students and families of Des Moines Public Schools, making sure they have what they need and feel welcome.

If you would like to reach out to a CSC for assistance, or to offer your help to a school, click here to find a list of CSCs and contact information.

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