58 Partnerships


School and Community Partnerships: Communities In Schools


By: Shelby C. Blair





“I could sit in my garage all day long and that doesn’t’t make me a car. I can sit in class all day and that does’t make me a student. It is what you DO that makes you a student.”Jamie Accashian, Principal


Learning Targets

Students should be able to:

  1. Define and give two examples of what a School and Community Partnership is.
  2. Have working knowledge of what Communities In Schools is.
  3. Name two benefits of School and Community Partnerships.



Let’s imagine this scenario. You are a first year freshman English teacher. You have a student who has the potential to be very successful. However, you have noticed recently that he has skipped classes, not turned in assignments, and went from makings “B’s” to “D-‘s” and “F”.

You talk to the student and he tells you that he has had to take on two jobs to help support his family. What do you do? How can you help him?


What is School and Community Partnerships

A school-community partnership involves “the connections between schools and community individuals, organizations, and businesses that are forged to promote students’ social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development” (Saunders, 2001).

These organizations can give money or volunteer their time and services. A few ways they can volunteer their time is by mentoring a student, tutoring, or just allowing a student to shadow them.


Why do we need Community Partnerships in our Schools?

Schools are being held accountable for students learning and what they know. However, schools cannot do this alone. This is where school and community partnerships come into play. In these different partnerships students are given the best opportunities to succeed in school because the community can sometimes provide resources that schools cannot really afford to provide. In a personal interview with Mr. Bob Cartwright, he said that, “in tight monetary times, the financial advantages to the school are apparent” (B. Cartwright, personal communication, September 30, 2008).

What is Community In Schools?

Communities In Schools (CIS) is a nationwide organization that helps to prevent students from dropping out of school and being prepared to become active and productive citizens in their communities (Communities in Schools At A Glance). CIS is a place where students can feel safe and feel as though someone actually cares about what happens to them. They are free to learn and not worry about being bullied. For some they are given a second chance at an education. One thing CIS helps to provide is alternative high schools that offer both day and night programs.

The teacher in the above scenario could recommend this to her student. The principal and the faculty would have worked with the student to help him be able to work to help his family and to still get his degree. They could even transpose his work experience into high school credit and work with his job to make sure he is able to attend school. The teachers are caring and go out of their way to help their students. I know all of this because I was lucky enough to experience it. I was that student that wanted to learn but had a hard time functioning in regular high school. The night school program was strict, as with any Community In Schools (CIS) program. Attendance is mandatory and if you miss so many days of school, you are dimissed from the program until the next semester. (B. Cartwright, personal communication, September 30, 2008).

Communities In Schools are making a difference in students’ lives. Click here to read all about them: http://www.cisnet.org/about/success.asp









After my sophomore year, I was dealing with more family issues at home and being picked on at school. It got to the point that I really did not want to go to school and begged to be sent to a private school. Private school was not feasible and I had heard about an alternative high school that my best friend attended. It was called Burger King Academy, and the only ties we had to Burger King were that we received generous amounts of monetary funding from them.

We were still a public high school in Chesterfield County, VA. The school is now called Community High School. I actually felt free at school to learn and not be fearful of being picked on because it was simply not tolerated. Our principal was not only a leader for us but also a mentor. The teachers were able to really get to know me there because there were fewer students in my class. I had a relationship bond with them that if something was bothering me I could talk to them about it and I knew they would help me if they could. They were some of the inspirations in why I wanted to go into teaching. I still talk and visit with them today.


Benefits of School and Community Partnerships

There is research out there about the many benefits of community and school partnerships. One benefit is opportunities for students to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to a project that is meaningful (Bouillion and Gomez, 2001). One way this is happening is through a program called, Junior Achievement. This program pairs business professionals with students in local schools. I remember being in middle school and participating in Junior Achievement in one of my classes. Our class was broken up into groups and we were to form our own businesses. We had to come up with everything from the product to the price and everything in between.

A second benefit is students are able to build real relationships and networks to prepare them for the “real world”. Through Communities in Schools, as well as other regular high schools, students are given a chance to network with professionals in the business world through cooperative education programs. A student at a CIS school would work during the day and turn in the work to the teacher. The class would be more of an independent study course.

A third benefit is one that affects students’ attendance rates. Research done by Sheldon (2007) has shown that the stronger the connection between school and community partnerships, the better school attendance is. Students test scores on achievement test went up when schools partnered with the community (Sheldon, 2003). When schools and communities partner together students graduation rates increase According to Chesterfield County Public Schools website, more than 1,000 students graduated from Chesterfield County Public Schools with the help of CIS.


“As I reflect, I keep remembering the students that could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and who could, quite often, say that they were proud of setting and reaching a goal for the first time in their lives. But they need not say it; it was always apparent in their positive attitudes, and their proud smiles.” ~ Mr. Bob Cartwright


In my personal interview with two people who worked in a Communities in Schools (CIS) High School, I asked them about the benefits of Communities in Schools (CIS). According to Coach Jamie Accashian students benefit both “financially” and through “marketable skills that would lead to direct employment” (J. Accashian, personal communication, September 22, 2008). A teacher at the night school program said, “A hand-picked, and volunteer staff that was more in tune with the needs of, and approaches to, these special situation students” (B. Cartwright, personal communication, September 30, 2008).


School and Community partnerships can provide students today with a better education and help with the demands put on the schools to meet expectations set by federal and state education mandates. The partnerships can provide monetary and non-monetary support. Through Communities in Schools students can have access to resources that can help them succeed in school. The benefits of community and school partnerships are numerous. In a world that is changing every moment and with more pressure being put on teachers to make sure students meet high standards of excellence, the community can help. In my opinion all we need to do is ask.



Accashion, J. (n.d.) from Chestefield Community High School website Chesterfield Community HIgh School: Myths and Legends http://www.chesterfield.k12.va.us/Schools/Community_HS/FAQ/Misconceptions.html

B. Cartwright (personal communication, September 30, 2008) http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Foundations_of_Education_and_Instructional_Assessment/Edition_3/Foundations_Table_of_Contents/Chapter_9/9.4.2/Interviews

Bouillion, L. M., & Gomez, L. M. (2001). Connecting School and Community with Science Learning: Real World Problems and School – Community Partnerships as Contextual Scaffolds. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,38(8) 878-898.

Chesterfield County Public Schools 2008, Communities in Schools of Chesterfield. (n.d.) Retrieved September 19, 2008, from http://www.chesterfield.k12.va.us/CCPS/community/community.htm

Communities In Schools (n.d.). Communities In Schools At A Glance/ Retrieved September 19, 2008, from http://www.cisnet.org/member/library/resources/downloads/Communities%20In%20Schools-At-A-Glance%20Final.pdf

J. Accashion (personal communication, September 22, 2008) http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Foundations_of_Education_and_Instructional_Assessment/Edition_3/Foundations_Table_of_Contents/Chapter_9/9.4.2/Interviews

Sanders, M. G. (2001). The Role of “Community” in Comprehensive School, Family, and Community Partnership Programs. The Elementary School Journal, 102(1), 19-34.

Sheldon, S. B. (2003). Linking School-Family-Community Partnerships in Urban Elementary Schools to Student Achievement on State Tests. The Urban Review, 35(2), 149-165.

Sheldon, S. B. (2007). Improving Student Attendance with School, Family, and Community Partnerships. The Journal of Educational Research, 100(5), 267-275.



1. What is not considered to be a development promoted by a school and community partnership?

A. Cognitive

B. Emotional

C. Intellectual

D. Physical
2. What is Community In School (CIS) actively trying to prevent happening to students?

A. Absences

B. Bullying

C. Dropping Out

D. Partying
3. What is one way in which you, as a teacher, can make a project meaningful?

A. Assign the student a book and have them report on what they read.

B. Get students involved by solving a “real-world” problem by having them participate in a clean-up project at a nearby creak.

C. Have a party once everyone has completed the project.

D. Have students individually work on a project and present the class.


4. What is one way in which you, as a teacher, could get the business community involved in your school?

A. Hold Parent/Teacher conferences

B. Hold a Parent Teacher Association Meeting

C. Hold a school pep rally

D. Write a letter to a particular business asking for sponsorship of an enrichment program for the students


  1. A. Cognitive
  2. C. Dropping Out
  3. B. Get students involved by solving a “real-world” problem by having them participate in a clean-up project at a nearby creak.
  4. D. Write a letter to a particular business asking for sponsorship of an enrichment program for the sutdents 


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