Central/Western Regional Update
Best Practices Spotlight: Greece Central School District Brings Community Schools Vision to Life
Greece Central School District has been growing their Community Schools strategy for the last several years. They are passionate about building deep connections with families and creating strategic partnerships so that their students can be happy and successful, families can be strong, and the whole community can thrive.
Greece is the largest suburban school district in Monroe County and the ninth-largest district in New York State. Greece Central has a diverse student population of over 10,000 students in 17 schools. As an inner ring suburb to the City of Rochester, Greece is all too familiar with the barriers that interfere with student learning and success. They embarked on their Community Schools journey in an attempt to leverage the assets of their community to support their students.
Bringing their Community Schools vision to life has meant providing after-school programming at each community school. Students have new-found opportunities to participate in community-based and school-based clubs, such as Girl Scouts, K-Kids Kiwanis Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The New York State Mentoring Program, Drama Club and many more. Participation in after-school clubs has positive academic, social, and behavioral outcomes for students. GCSD District Community Schools Coordinator Kelly Sperduto says, “Watching the hallways and classrooms come to life after school truly feels like moving one step closer to having our schools become the hub of our community.”
Accessing integrated health and social supports is another focus area for the Greece Community Schools. They have partnered with community agencies to provide mental health services and dental care at the school sites. Many students and families are eager to participate in these programs and appreciate the access to much-needed supports right at the schools. Supporting individual families as they navigate the wide variety of services provided in the community has been a need for many years. Collaborating with school counselors and social workers, three site-based Community Schools Site Coordinators are removing barriers for families each and every day. “Our goal is to connect families to supports available in the community, so the students’ and families’ basic needs are met. Only then can children come to school ready to focus on learning,” said Sperduto.
This year has brought new and exciting changes to Greece’s Community Schools. The district-based Community Schools team has now partnered with the Center for Youth as a lead agency. This has helped to strengthen community ties and bring much-needed social emotional support services directly to the students. Help Zone Workers and Crisis Interventionists are working directly with students on a daily basis to help them build their social emotional competencies. Every minute students are able to stay in class is another opportunity for them to grow as learners.
In October, the District opened its first Parent Center, with the goal to serve and provide parents and families with a safe place to share their voice, access resources and supports, and enhance home and school partnerships. This Parent Center is just one of the exciting changes that is coming to the new Greece Community Early Learning Center at West Ridge Elementary School. Providing comprehensive services to their youngest learners and their families is the goal of the new Center. The Center is in the process of transforming a traditional elementary school structure into a space that meets the needs of its youngest students, including offering evaluation and support services, a focus on literacy and language development, and early childhood health and well-being. Early childhood education is the gateway to children’s educational experience in Greece, and the Early Learning Center will be a safe and welcoming environment where learning is joyful and all students and families are supported. Over the next four years, the Early Learning Center will gradually phase in as the hub of Early Childhood Education for the District.
Greece Central School District prides itself on removing barriers to ensure all students have access and opportunities to reach their full potential. Community Schools is proudly identified as a major strategy in GCSD’s Envision 2022 Strategic Framework.