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Marion Goes All In To Become Community School

Although the Marion Central School District has long been a focal point in the community, a new step was taken this year as it officially became a “community school.”

Community schools are public schools that partner with stakeholders to help students thrive. Being a community school is much more than being a member of a program.

“It’s a strategy and an initiative based on turning the school into a resource hub and an access hub so that everything that students need can be brought to them,” said Jay Roscup, community schools director at the Wayne County Consortium in Sodus.

Marion Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ellen M. Lloyd is a staunch advocate for community schools.

“I like that schools become a hub for the community,” Lloyd said. “I believe that is important in any community, but it is especially important in a small community.”

Marion received a five-year grant through a federal Full Service Community Schools Grant and is one of eight Wayne County schools taking part in the community school strategy.

The grant, which was written by Roscup, covers the salaries of two community school coordinators, one for Marion Elementary School and one for Marion Junior-Senior High School, $68,000 per year toward mini-camps and enrichments, support from family and community engagement coordinators for community literacy events, school health integration development and support from Wayne County Literacy Volunteers at Marion Elementary School.

Community schools are built on the pillars of integrated student support, expanded and enriched learning, engaging families and communities and being leaders in collaboration.

Roscup says the role of the community school coordinator is to map out the needs of the district and connect with community partners. The needs are determined through conversations with parents, students and staff and by consulting data.

“There is an equity piece to being a community school because it gives every student access to these resources,” Lloyd said.

Emily Lorenzen is the community schools coordinator assigned to Marion Elementary and Robyn Moutroy holds the same title at Marion Junior-Senior High School. Both are employed by the Wayne County Action Program.

Lorenzen, who has been in the District since September, said the goal of a coordinator is to try to fill student needs. She has met with school staff, parents and community organizations to help launch the initiative.

“Everybody here has been so welcoming,” said Lorenzen, who delivered a presentation on community schools at the Jan. 8 Board of Education meeting. “I really feel that the Community Schools Strategy aligns with the Whole Child Framework which has made things smoother.”

Moutroy started in Marion in January and has been focused on building relationships between the school and the community.

“The ultimate goal of a coordinator is to connect schools and families with the community,” Moutroy said. “We are here and ready to help.”

Early success stories include community partnerships with the Wayne Behavioral Health Network, Marion Food Pantry, Foodlink and Mosaic Dental. Expanded learning opportunities supported by the community schools grant include minicamps at MES, enrichment programs at MJSHS, summer programming and the STEADY work program. Student and family support has included grant sponsored UPK literacy events, as well as community schools coordinators sharing their time at PTO events and student council events.

Although the program is just past the midway point of its first year, Lloyd said that it is already making a difference.

“I am a big believer that when a community does better and when families do better that kids do better,” Lloyd said.