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SUCCESS Snapshot: Community Partners in Education

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It takes a village to teach a child, and this fall Las Cruces has a new tool to connect the village and the classroom – CommunityShare Las Cruces, a free online ‘correspondence’ platform that will allow all Educators from the great Las Cruces easily find and connect with community members who can bring expert knowledge, real-world perspectives and project-based learning to classrooms.

Imagine college science classes where students, supported by both their teacher and a biology researcher, experimentally test different composting approaches to see which one works best for their school; imagine students working with a fashion designer to make clothes from recycled and reused materials, while practicing geometry, trigonometry, arithmetic and the art of sewing; imagine students working with a web developer to program a virtual museum filled with their own projects and those of their classmates. . . All of these projects took place last school year, despite the pandemic, during the pilot launch of CommunityShare Las Cruces at community schools in Las Cruces. (Plus, you don’t have to imagine the virtual museum; you can visit it at https://sites.google.com/view/the-200-wing.) This fall, thanks to generous funding from the WK Foundation Kellogg, the CommunityShare Las Cruces platform is open to teachers and community members throughout the greater Las Cruces region.

Teachers involved in the 2020-2021 pilot reported that community partners, and the projects they made possible, helped maintain student engagement and learning even through the disruption caused by Covid-19 , a result expected by a vast body of research in the learning sciences. As reported by Johns Hopkins University and the Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (among others), learning outcomes improve when academics and life are linked, when students have the opportunity to work on meaningful projects. and when students have access to positive role models in their community — conditions that can be fulfilled when community partners bring their knowledge, enthusiasm and care to the classroom.

If you are a teacher, you can sign up and find partners who are willing to serve as mentors, guest speakers, project collaborators and more. If you are a member of the community – a parent, artist, scientist, retiree, business, non-profit organization – who wants to make a difference in our schools, you can sign up as a community partner by describing the skills and life experiences of your profile. If you have a specific idea in mind, you can even describe courses / projects, both virtual or in person, that you want to offer teachers and students. Think about all the people who have supported you throughout your life journey; you could be that person today for a young person.

Thanks to start-up funding from the Community Schools of Las Cruces and generous grants from the Stocker Foundation and the WK Kellogg Foundation, the CommunityShare Las Cruces platform is completely free. Additionally, thanks to the Stocker Foundation and the El Paso Community Foundation, grant funding can pay for the background checks that all Las Cruces public school volunteers must go through before working with students, and teachers. can use the platform to apply for a locally dedicated mini. -grants that can pay for project supplies and / or time for community partners who are unable to volunteer.

In line with the principle of the SUCCESS partnership that we need cross-sector collaboration to improve education, CommunityShare Las Cruces was launched in partnership with the community schools of Las Cruces, which work to unite community and university life; CommunityShare, an Arizona-based nonprofit organization that developed the eponymous software platform CommunityShare; and Cruces Creatives, the non-profit makerspace of Las Cruces, which brings together tools, training and a creative and united community. As the regional host of CommunityShare Las Cruces, Cruces Creatives supports both teachers in developing project ideas and looking for opportunities to invite community members to join the platform. Together we have the opportunity to provide Las Cruces students with incredible learning opportunities this year.

There is also a role for you in the collaboration – join us by registering at www.communityshare.us/las-cruces. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through our website.

Patrick DeSimio is Grants Writer and Program Manager for Cruces Creatives.

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