John P. Parker School has been recognized as a “High Flying School” at the 29th Annual National Youth-At-Risk (NYAR) Conference in Savannah, Ga. Dr. Kimberly Mack, principal at John P. Parker, and Pamela Knox, M.Ed., resource coordinator, were awarded at the conference’s opening keynote presentation on Monday, March 5, 2018.
Mack and Knox will also present to NYAR conference attendees during a breakout session. In their presentation, “Promoting Resilience and Community in a High-Poverty Urban School,” Mack and Knox will share strategies that promote “grit” and infuse resilience in elementary-aged learners so they can thrive in an urban schooling environment.
This award is incredibly significant for John P. Parker, as it represents the culmination of efforts between the school, the surrounding community of Madisonville, and the region at large over the last few years. Criteria to be recognized as a “High Flying School” include:
- The school demonstrates high levels of collaboration with community and/or university in addressing youth-at-risk issues within the school and community.
- The school provides opportunities for students to develop citizenship skills.
- School curriculum includes objectives and activities related to the growth of students as individuals who are successful members of a democratic society.
The success of John P. Parker came from a philosophical pivot from being “just” a school—that may not interact much with the surrounding community—to being a cornerstone of the community, working towards offering wrap-around services, education and assistance to families. The Community Learning Center model is being replicated nationally, with John P. Parker as a pioneer.
So how does a school in Madisonville accomplish this? Strategic partnerships.
“At any given time, you can walk into our school and see any one of our 63 active partners engaged with our learners and teachers,” said Knox.
Those partnerships include Activities Beyond the Classroom, the Cincinnati Ballet, PBS/CET, University of Cincinnati, Wilmington College … and the list goes on.
“These partnerships aren’t just about ‘getting’ things, but partnering with all of these organizations to grow sustainability,” continued Knox.
She referenced one of the challenges Madisonville residents face: being in a food desert. With the school’s Vision 2020 focus on Global Environmental Literacy, the school has multiple operating gardens that provide produce that can be sold to residents in the community. Through working in the garden, students develop a deep understanding of where food comes from and how they can make healthy choices.
Another example: “Crock pot” nights, where parents and members of the community can attend a cooking class, learn about and use locally-grown ingredients (if available) to cook a meal in the crock pot, then take what they made (and what they’ve learned) home with them, as well as the crock pot.
“It’s about keeping our partners connected to our school’s mission, which is not just preparing our learners for high school, but for life,” said Knox.
Learn more about John P. Parker Elementary School and the Vision 2020 Global Environmental Literacy program at https://parker.cps-k12.org.