Community Schools Highlight – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School #9
From the moment that you step foot into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School #9, you feel the sense of family, community, and passion for learning. The various examples of student work from across grade levels line the hallway walls. The branches on the tree mural displays the different community based partners that invest into the Community School Initiative at School 9. And, of course there is Sharon Jackson, the school principal at MLK Community School #9 for over seventeen years. You may see her hugging a student in the hallway or warming a student’s meal during lunch, it is evident that student’s well-being, education, and growth always come first.
In the school year of 2018-2019, Dr. Martin Luther Community School #9 was one of two schools in New York State that exited off the NYSED “Receivership” list of schools and placed into the status of “Good Standing.” Principal Jackson and Community Site Coordinator Wanda Labrador, acknowledged that with the support of faculty and community partners, as well as, a strategic theory of action, the school community fostered the necessary changes to improve student-learning outcomes. Their theory of action provided students with effective teachers who
- pledge to be continuous learners,
- believe in culturally relevant pedagogy,
- engage students and families as equal community partners so that they play a pivotal role in ensuring the school community represents all vested parties,
- and align school recourses to the direct needs of their Community School practices.
Consequently, every student had opportunities and ability to achieve academic growth and proficiency, as well as develop healthy relationships in a safe, supportive, and respectful learning environment.
In addition, Dr. Martin Luther King Community School #9 Saturday Family Academy played a vital role in establishing and maintaining their Community School Initiative. Over the past few years, faculty and community partners welcome students and their families to participate in family activities and events; for example, yoga, swimming, cooking, and informative workshops. Furthermore, Dr. Martin Luther King Community School #9 began the LINKS program (which was created by Labrador herself and Jamie Hearn, one of the school’s social workers). The LINKS program, facilitated by students, create or maintain the lines of communication between themselves and incarcerated family members.
Dr. Martin Luther King Community School #9 is a community school where everyone believes that the students come first and that all of the stakeholders have a seat at the table to share their voices. A community school whose next goal is to move from “Good Standing” to “Nationally Recognized!”