Home > PUM One on One: Monté Robinson, LPC Community Schools Coordinator, Office of the Superintendent, PPS

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PUM One on One: Monté Robinson, LPC 

Community Schools Coordinator, Office of the Superintendent, Pittsburgh Public Schools

 

PUM: Pittsburgh Public Schools has demonstrated its commitment to family and community engagement by creating the Family, Youth and Community Engagement team. The team which you are a part of exists within the Office of the Superintendent. Please tell us more about your role with PPS and how are you making a difference?

Robinson:  I serve as the Community Schools Coordinator here at PPS. As the Community Schools Coordinator my role is the coordinate the Community Schools strategy across the district including the facilitation of the district Community Schools Steering Committee, management of the Community Schools Site Managers, development and implementation of the Community Schools standard operating procedures, and the sustainability and growth of the strategy. 

I am making a difference by leveraging my years experiences with Community Schools and willingness to learn and implement best practices to ensure that the PPS Community Schools strategy is addressing the needs of our students, families, and communities.

 

PUM: The Community Schools model is designed to help eliminate barriers to academic achievement. What is the philosophy behind this approach and what additional initiatives are on the horizon for this model?

Robinson:  The philosophy behind the Community Schools approach is that schools are best suited to serve as community hubs for students and families to receive needed supports in the areas of academics, enrichment, health and social supports, youth and community development and family engagement. Also, that schools can serve as hubs for collaboration and partnerships between community service agencies, businesses / corporations, high education institutions, medical institutions, school-based staff, students, families, and the greater community.  

Regarding new initiatives are Community School Site Managers are working daily with school-based staff, students, families, and community stakeholders to develop partnerships and initiatives to meet the needs of the school community. Without going into specifics, we are in the process of developing new initiatives at the school-based level in the areas of student academics supports, mentoring services, school based dental and optical services, vocational career training and readiness, and adult basic education.

 

PUM: How do you manage this process and how do you measure if the community services are working for students?

Robinson: I manage the process by meeting with the Community Schools Site Managers regularly, who are responsible for facilitating the implementation and management of the Community Schools strategy at the school-based level; working with them to ensure that the Community Schools standard operating procedures are being implemented with fidelity. We are in the initial stages of developing protocol and procedures that are uniformed across all Designated Community Schools. This allow for efficient, effective, and sustainable management of the model long term.

Regarding, measuring services provided to students, we hold monthly Community Schools partner meetings with our partner agencies; the agenda items include, but are not limited to, discussing student service updates, program and services attendance, best practices, potential collaborations, barriers and growth areas, and support needed.

We also require our partner agencies to submit their monthly program attendance and complete a monthly services update form. Additionally, we partnered with the PPS Out of School Time Office to obtain all partner agencies’ logic models which outlines their service goals and measurable outcomes.

Utilizing the data that we collect from partners allows us to determine the impact and effectiveness of services provided to students. We also collect qualitive data via program observations.

 

PUM:  So far, five schools have been designated "community schools" what exactly does this mean? How do they operate?  

Robinson:  Receiving a Community School designation means that those schools applied for the Community Schools designation, completed the designation process including being vetted and recommended by the District Community Schools Steering Committee. Lastly, being approved by the Superintendent and the School Board. Once designated, schools receive a full-time Community School Site Manger that will facilitate the implementation and management of the Community Schools strategy in conjunction with the school principal and school community.

The primary function of a Designated Community School is to partner with community service agencies, businesses, higher education institutions, medical institutions and other community stakeholder to meet the needs of the students and families within the school community. A Community School needs assessment is conducted to understand the needs of the school community including students, parents, administrators, teachers, other school-based staff, and the greater community.

The Community Schools Site Manger is responsible for the onboarding, vetting, and management of the Community School partnerships along with the Community School Site Team which consist of school administrators, teachers, counselors / social workers, students, parents, and community members.

The Community Schools Site Team primary responsibility is to develop a Site Action Plan that is based on the needs of the school community. The plan consists of short and long-term goals for the designated Community School site.  

 

PUM: Prior to this role you spent years working with Homewood Children’s Village and students at Westinghouse, what exactly did you discover about the various types of services students need to help them achieve academic excellence?

Robinson:  Throughout my years working at the Homewood Children’s Village, serving as the Head Football Coach at Pittsburgh Westinghouse, and other professional experiences I’ve had throughout my 18-year career; I’ve learned that students need services ranging from basic needs food, shelter, clothing to extended learning opportunities such STEAM opportunities. I believe tailoring services to the unique needs of individual students and not subscribing to a one size fits all mindset; is critical for student to achieve academic excellence and ultimately become successful adults.

This requires that schools, community stakeholders, parents, and other adults in the lives of students to be openminded, humble, balance (easy-going but firm when needed), great listener, willing learners, empathetic, creative, unbiased, and much more when developing and providing services to students. But I also believe students must be invested in their own personal growth in order to achieve academic excellence as well.

 

PUM:  How can the community become more engaged with PPS and why is that important? 

Robinson: In regard to PPS Community Schools, the community can become more engaged with the Community Schools strategy and our efforts at the district and school-based levels by contacting me directly at mrobinson2@pghschool.org. It is important that we continue to work collectively as a community to ensure that our students are career and life ready.   

 

 

District Recommends Designation of Three Additional Community Schools as Part of Phase 2 Implementation

PITTSBURGH, PA January 7, 2019 – Pittsburgh Arlington K-8, Pittsburgh King K-8, and Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12 will become the District’s newest Designated Community Schools, pending Board approval at its January 30th Legislative Meeting. The expansion to eight community schools continues the District’s work to create positive and supportive school cultures as part of its Expect Great Things strategic plan. The designations additionally expand the model regionally, extending community schools to the South, North, and Central areas of the city.  The District shared the recommendation at this evening’s Board Education Committee Meeting. 

 “The strong connections fostered between educators and community stakeholders at community schools assist in eliminating barriers to student academic success,” said Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, Ed.D.  “Our expansion of community schools continues our work to leverage strategic partnerships in a smarter way to offer students a quality education and promote positive conditions for learning.”

 While all District schools support the overall well-being of students through the implementation of a Multi-tiered System of Support, which includes both academic and social-emotional supports, community schools combine traditional approaches with community-based resources on site.

In May 2017, a 26-member steering committee developed a formal community schools process and designated five community schools following a rigorous application process that gained interest from 21 schools: Pittsburgh Westinghouse, Pittsburgh Faison, Pittsburgh Lincoln, Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8 and Pittsburgh Langley K-8.

Phase 2 Designated Community Schools were selected based on multiple data points, such as graduation rates, homelessness, and attendance rates.  Also, school leader and school community buy-in, community stakeholder support, and physical space were all considerations in the District’s selection process. 

The implementation of a tiered and phased community schools’ model is one of 19 initiatives outlined in the District’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan: Expect Great Things. 

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