Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What's Right with the Region!

On Thursday, May 9, 2013, FOCUS St. Louis will honor 20 organizations, individuals, and initiatives that have made a profound difference in the St. Louis region. The 16th annual What’s Right with the Region! awards recognize outstanding individual leadership and community success stories. One of those success stories is the Brittany Woods Community School Initiative.

Three years ago, the University City School District forged a 25-year committed partnership with Washington University, beginning the Brittany Woods Community School Initiative. Together, with additional community partners, including Wyman Center, they are raising expectations, providing needed services, and connecting the community to their goal of social, emotional, academic and personal success for all students.

The steady and intentional transformation of Brittany Woods Middle School began in response to conditions of low academic achievement, high rates of leadership turn-over, a school climate that was perceived to be chaotic, and a negative perception of the school in the local community. Evaluating models of school turn-around, the district and university – through both the Brown School of Social Work and Institute for School Partnership – committed to a “community school” model. The community school integration includes a strong instructional program, expanded learning opportunities for students, and additional services aimed at supporting healthy development, including Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program. Research has demonstrated that these types of comprehensive approaches support the overall achievement and growth of students.

As a part of the Community School Initiative, Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program is
integrated into the seventh grade curriculum at Brittany Woods Middle School.
Since 2009, Brittany Woods has seen impressive outcomes for students, families and the University City community, including:
  • Increases in student attendance
  • Decrease in annual behavioral referrals
  • A positive trend in student achievement on benchmark and standardized tests
  • Significant increases in parental involvement
  • Passing of a bond issue for renovations and to add a new library to the school
  • Development of a Community School Fair, attended by over 100 families and 20 community organizations
The Brittany Woods Community School Initiative leverages the shared physical and human assets of numerous local organizations, a collaborative leadership structure, and a data-driven process to help students succeed. It demonstrates a deep commitment to transforming and strengthening urban education – and communities – and provides a beacon of hope for others in our region.

Congratulations to our friends and partners at Brittany Woods Middle School and Washington University in St. Louis, and thank you for being a part of a collaboration that is helping young people succeed, and contributing to a stronger community.

FOCUS St. Louis is the region’s premier leadership development organization that connects diverse leaders from public, private, and civic sectors and empowers them to work together to build a thriving St. Louis community.

Originally posted on the Wyman Center Web site by Emily Black.

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