Bringing the community back to urban schools

I’m a firm believer that the community helps form our children into good citizens.  It is time that urban school districts start looking out of the box for ways to unite the community and schools to promote citizenship and city pride among our youth.

My school district is doing just that. Peoria Public School District is engaged in creative problem solving to find new solutions for old problems.

Old Problem: Students not meeting state standards.

New Solution: Bringing in community members to mentor students who are struggling.

In Peoria, the Peoria Park district has invested in a pilot program called ELITE. The K-8 ELITE program is being piloted at Trewyn.  Trewyn is transitioning from a middle school to a K-8 building that offers an International Baccalaureate (IB) program. The ELITE program brings district employees into the schools to work with the parents and students of this school by:

  • Making home visits to build relationships between parents and the school
  • Implementing a student Code of Conduct Covenant
  • Involving students in the community through community service activities
  • Serving as role models to students

The presence of the ELITE team is obvious to anyone who enters Trewyn. The ELITE rules are displayed in halls and classes. There is a line that divides every hall in the school. The students are expected to stay on the “right side of the road.” And if the student decides not to follow the school rules, the ELITE team will be there to guide them back to the right side of the road.

This program is helping students stay invested in school by showing them that people in their community care about their success. The school, the community, teachers, parents, and students are being united by this program. ELITE teaches students how to be good citizens and allows all stakeholders to benefit in the process.