We can do more together than we could ever do apart


‘We’ve been presented with two general approaches of how to best support kids in poverty and one is a model that’s based on extraction, and it’s pulling kids from the community, immersing them in a school culture that’s separate and different to the neighbourhood culture that they come from. Sometimes there’s this sense that their home, their community is in someway inadequate or it’s wrong and I think that’s damaging. And there’s this secondary model, working hand in hand with community to uplift and empower an entire neighbourhood and i think at the heart thats the one where we are going to get lasting change.’ Joe Manko, Principal of Liberty Elementary school, Baltimore.

When Joe became the principal of Liberty Elementary he envisioned a school that worked “hand in hand with the community.” Rather than operating as an autonomous institution, Manko felt Liberty should be a place that was integral to the neighborhood and welcoming to its residents of all generations.

Today, thanks to over 1,800 hours of volunteerism each month, Liberty is able to provide extensive multi-generational after-school programming and wrap-around services—including a community run food pantry. This deep partnership with the community not only provides students and their families with access to a rich and holistic education but also enables a strong support system for all.

Liberty is redefining what it means to be a community school, and what collective leadership looks like in action—with parents, teachers and community members all working together toward a shared vision for their children, school, and community.

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