The district is excited to announce that Peñasco Elementary School has been awarded a Community Schools Implementation Grant for the 2020-21 school year. The grant award is $150,000 and the district can reapply for it for two additional years. The funding will be used to support the four pillars of the Community School model as set out by the New Mexico PED:
- Expanded and Enriched Learning Time Opportunities
- Integrated Student Supports
- Active Family and Community Engagement
- Collaborative Leadership and Practices
In short, the purpose of the Community School model is to make as many services from the community and school available to students and their families in order to ensure student success. The grant is part of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's “A New Direction for New Mexico Schools," which includes eleven focus areas needed in order for New Mexico’s students to achieve their very best, including engaging families, communities and students as substantive partners.
The initiative will be guided by the shared leadership of administration, teachers, staff, parents, and community members. Although the grant was specifically awarded to the elementary school, because of the district's small size and the location of all schools on a single campus, most of the programs will be able to serve students of all ages and grades.
Programs that will be supported by the initiative include
- El Centro School-Based Clinic
- Taos Behavioral Health in-school services
- Las Cumbres Nurturing Center
- In-school tutoring
- After-school programs including robotics, theater, culinary arts, gardening/farming, arts, yoga, media arts, games, and other fun activities.
- Supper for students participating in after-school programs
- Professional development for responsive classroom techniques (helping teachers meet their students' individual needs)
- Professional development for students and teachers to help them become peer helpers and mentors for one another, with the purpose of getting students the mental, physical, and social/emotional support they need
- Community events at the school
Bob Richardson, teacher and Picuris Pueblo council member, said, "The Penasco schools have always been a communal hub. Now that we have access to the Community Schools Grant, it will give us the necessary resources we require to change the mindset of everyone within the community for the better. Because there is an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development along with community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. This grant will also be an easier way for everyone within the community to work together.
"PISD has always been a community school, and it's wonderful to get the recognition and additional funding to help support the services that have been supporting our community for years," said Alessandra Ogren, art teacher. "The teachers and artists at The Penasco Theater are excited to be able to participate with the Community School project. We hope we will be able to offer additional days of after-school classes for students enrichment.
Enselma Vasquez of the Nurturing Center said, "I am extremely excited and happy about the grant, and I am looking forward to moving with more resources to enrich our beautiful children at PISD."