Community Schools Spotlight: Mary McLeod Bethune School #45​

When you walk into the main entrance to Mary McLeod Bethune School #45, there is always someone to greet you with a smile on their face and a warm welcome.  Over the past four years, School #45 has made the transition into a true “Community School” through the leadership of building Principal Rhonda Morien and collaborative work of Community Schools Site Coordinator Luis Zarate.  By utilizing the school’s lead partnership with the Center for Youth and several other Community Based Organizations, every stakeholder from students, staff, families and partners plays a vital role in the day to day operations within and outside of the building. The work that has taken place also led to the school being removed from the NYSED Receivership Schools List as of July 1st, 2019.On the academics side, School #45 has created a system where students begin a lifelong journey of learning by working with the adults in their lives to help create their own goals and progress monitoring throughout the year.  Students know where they stand on a daily basis, as well as what they need to do to continue to be successful.  But the accountability doesn’t just fall on the students.  Instructional staff on all levels also have set goals that they work to achieve and maintain throughout the school year.  The shared vision of the students, staff and community partners has helped School #45 become a true educational pioneer within the district and state.

School #45 also serves as a location that offers many different programs and supports to students, their families, and the outside community.  Stakeholders have access to emergency food through their on-site food pantry, clothing items through their clothing pantry, various health and wellness fairs, and even after hours programming through their Family and Community Engagement Program (F.A.C.E,).  The school hosts events throughout the year that reach far out into the surrounding community as well. One example is their annual Halloween in the Hallway night, which drew in close to 800 children this past October! They have also held community flea markets and collected hundreds of donated items to ensure that students in need have access to meals, gifts and other necessities during the holiday season.

Over the last few years, School #45 has transitioned into a Community School that acts as a hub for their entire neighborhood and beyond.  And, while they are proud of their accomplishments, its stakeholders also realize that the work is never done, as they continue to be a shining example for Community School Initiatives across the board.