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Creating and Strengthening Resilient Communities through PK-12 School Design and Partnerships

Sean O'Donnell, Bruce Levine, Katrina Struloeff, Rebecca Milne, Lindsay Fischer — Drexel University School of Education, Perkins Eastman Architects

Schools, now more than ever, are anchors in communities and require intentional programmatic and physical designs to support their communities. This leads us to ask, how can a school’s design and programming enhance learning, resiliency, and wellness for not only students and teachers, but the community as a whole? After engaging with stakeholders across the country, we have seen growing interest in community school models that offer a wider array of services than conventional schools.

While each school and community context is unique with regard to student population, geographical location, funding, and leadership, there are existing best practices for building resiliency within communities that can be applied at various levels in each context. The physical and programmatic design of schools can support programs and communities, and fill gaps to increase resilience and community wellbeing. Applying these practices, community partners can ensure the programmatic and physical designs of schools best serve their students, staff, and families, while ultimately enhancing resiliency of the whole community.

These communities need tools to assess the unique needs and assets of their schools and communities to create sustainable change and growth. To help, we are creating a toolkit with interactive resources and actionable plans that they can use to start the conversation. This session will provide a summary of our research to date, focused on community school partnerships with a variety of organizations (health, food access and nutrition, and social emotional learning/support) and community schools in different geographical contexts (rural and urban).

Conversational Practice

The participants will have the opportunity to discuss, review and provide inputs on the draft toolkit, helping the team refine the resources to be leveraged by communities pursuing these expanded services.

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