We believe that helping a community thrive begins with a local focused investment in children and their families, and there is no better place for consistent connections than school.
For our specific efforts in Hagerstown, Maryland, Bester Elementary School is our strategic partner and our focus is to create a pipeline of support and resources that can be streamlined with the needs identified by school personnel and neighborhood residents. Some of the specific activities we are pursuing include:
Free acute medical services for all Bester children
To target holistic health and reduce overall absenteeism, the Community Free Clinic of Washington County in coordination with Meritus Medical Center has partnered with Bester Elementary to meet the acute health needs of Bester children every single the day school is open (with parental consent); an amazing resource and commitment by a local organization. Services began at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. Additional health targets include increasing health insurance enrollment, increased utilization of primary healthcare providers, ensuring annualized basic physical, dental and vision screenings and increasing a culture of health and wellness in the school building.
Enhanced summer and afterschool programming
To increase utilization and resources to existing programs committed to Bester families, we have partnered with the YMCA of Washington County who currently provides quality and affordable programs. Keys for this partnership include additional programming to increase engagement and connectedness, additional staff members and volunteers to allow for more youth served and more personalized contact in smaller group settings.
For those children and families not currently engaged in after school opportunities, we created the BOOST program in the Fall of 2016. BOOST, short for Bester Out of School Time, are a variety of free clubs available to children on a registration basis in the Fall and Spring that allow students to have access to the best and brightest local leaders to enhance learning and build social connections.
Pipeline of community support
Pursuing the community school strategy, with successful integration of community partners into the existing school programs will also allow the pathway for other community members and organizations to find meaningful ways to contribute to needs identified by school personnel and Bester families.
Weekly Classroom Meetings
Through a partnership with The Center for the Collaborative Classroom (CCC), Bester Community of Hope has provided Bester Elementary School teachers toolkits to add resources to weekly class meetings focused on building kindness, emotional intelligence, communication and social skills. Implementation in other school systems who have utilized this social and emotional learning model have seen dramatic positive outcomes in not only behavioral and disciplinary statistics, but overall academic success. CCC continues to be involved as a consultant helping to continue to refine the work and move the effort forward.