Sarah Lahm: Minnesota ‘Most Diverse City’ Schools Addressing Community’s Deep Trauma
Sarah Lahm covers the midwest education scene. Here she looks at a solution that’s working in Minnesota–a community school. She’s talking with Sizi Goyah, a high school math teacher.
For Goyah, who says he is “absolutely looking forward” to returning to school in person this fall, the community school model in Brooklyn Center has been an enduring source of stability.
“As a teacher, I see the value in being a community school, and that’s why I’ve stayed in Brooklyn Center for so long,” he noted, as he embarks on his 10th year in the district.
The benefit of having a community-centered school dedicated to addressing more than just students’ academic needs came into sharp focus in April 2021.
That’s when a young Black man, Daunte Wright, was killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center. Wright’s death brought more trauma to a community that was already reeling from racial strife, particularly after the 2020 murder of George Floyd in nearby Minneapolis.
Thanks to the existing full-service model, Goyah recalls, Brooklyn Center school staff members and supporters were able to swiftly jump into action on behalf of community members who were struggling with Wright’s killing and the unrest that followed.
Offering assistance in a time of crisis is something full-service community schools may be especially equipped to do. That’s because they are intended to exist as a hub for the community, with a mission to serve students, staff, and families in a comprehensive manner.
This means districts such as Brooklyn Center, which adopted the model in 2009, provide much more than academic instruction to students.
Instead, Brooklyn Center schools partner with local providers in order to ensure students’ needs, as well as those of the wider community, are being met as conveniently and quickly as possible.
In Goyah’s view, the benefits of this model are numerous. It delivers a variety of services to students, staff, families, and the broader community, including appointments for mental health counseling, a physical, or an eye exam, for example, that can be scheduled during the school day.