After three years of convening nonprofits and listening to Taos teachers and families, Taos School Zone worked with Taos Municipal Schools to bring the community school concept to Taos. Community Schools are a collective impact strategy that bring resources into the schools to serve students and their families, acknowledging that for academic success, students benefit greatly from physical and mental health, freedom from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and a supportive school culture. The community benefits from healthier children who are better prepared to success in life and family, and also from its involvement in the educational process.
With help from the Robert T. Keeler Foundation, Budd Family Foundation, and Taos Community Foundation, TSZ raised the money to hire and train Taos's first Community School Site Coordinator for Enos Garcia Elementary, who was hired in the fall of 2019. With funding from the New Mexico Public Education Department, three additional site coordinators were hired later that same school year. By fall 2020, Enos Garcia, Vista Grande Charter High School, Taos International Charter School, and Peñasco Elementary had all joined the program, and TSZ was working with the schools and the Center for Community Analysis to measure outcomes and ensure fidelity to the model.
The Community School paradigm is based on collaborative leadership, expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities, community engagement, and integrated student supports.