The 2016 national Community Schools conference (hosted by IEL/Coalition for Community Schools in Albuquerque, NM) was the inception of the Wisconsin State Coalition for Community Schools. A state breakout session during the conference allowed Wisconsin Community School advocates to unite in their interests and discuss ongoing opportunities to strengthen and grow Community Schools in Wisconsin. At this time, it was determined that participants had an interest in continuing to meet past the conference.
As this state network emerged, a small group stepped up to facilitate ongoing meetings and engage and align members. Participants indicated a desire for focusing on shared learning and spreading best practices during meetings. The steering committee surveyed participants to identify key topics and sought out local practitioners who could speak on their experiences as they related to the desired topics of focus and a consultancy protocol was used to structure the learning time. Topics included needs/asset assessments and moving from study to action, family engagement, community organizing, and other topics relating to the systems and functions of high quality Community Schools.
Each meeting began to follow a similar format including networking, shared learning experiences, and updates on national Community Schools momentum. Since its inception, network participation has continued to grow. Network participation consists of initiative level leaders (a role that supervises/supports several Community School Coordinators across a system of Community Schools), Community School Coordinators, School and District Administrators, and University partners.
Wisconsin Community Schools have grown during this time, from 3 communities to 7 communities implementing Community Schools. This network has provided a venue for shared learning and creating professional connections that help Community School professionals feel more supported in a new profession that can at times feel isolating; the network has helped create a sense of community and collaborative action for Wisconsin’s Community School professionals.
The Wisconsin State Network for Community Schools is a network partner of the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership (firstname.lastname@example.org). For more information on the Wisconsin State Network for Community Schools, contact: Glenn Carson, email@example.com.