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Milestones in Community Education

The Community School Program offers an opportunity for the public school system to determine the needs of the community and provides a mechanism to meet those needs throughout the calendar year. The curriculum of the Community School Program is as wide and varied as the needs of the community it serves. Community schools provide programs that are implemented and funded by fees, tuition, grants, and donations, at community schools, at adult education centers, at satellite school locations , and at off-campus, non-public school locations throughout Miami-Dade County.

Each of the 39 Community Education Centers offer classes for individuals of all ages, skill levels and language capabilities. Students enrolling in language or computer classes have the opportunity to enhance the job skills needed to satisfy the demands of today’s world. Annually, over 100,000 people have taken advantage of these recreational, self-improvement, and educational opportunities, and if an individual or group wants to acquire a specific new skill, Miami-Dade County Public Schools can work with each to create a class that suits the needs of all interests.

CONTACT INFORMATION, HOURS AND DAYS OF SERVICE

For more specific information on Miami-Dade County Public Schools Community Education and Before and After School Care programs or Middle School Enrichment After School programs, please log on to our website at www.dadecommunityschools.net or please call Mr. Victor Ferrante, Executive Director at 305-817-0014 X2504 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

These Milestones were originally prepared by Dr. Mildred Augenstein Cohn, a founding member of the Miami-Dade Coalition for Community Education, to prepare for the millennium celebration of "Turn on the Lights 2000." They have been updated to look both backward and forward as community education enfolds in the Third Millennium

1930’s: The Modern Community School Story Begins...

The story of modern Community education begins during the depths of Great Depression in the city of Flint, Michigan. Philanthropist Charles Stewart Mott, a founder of General Motors, asked Frank J. Manley Flint’s director of physical education and recreation, his opinion about building a club for boys in town. Manley replied, "Why not use the buildings you already have?" He was referring to the public schools.

What began simply as the response of two men from vastly different backgrounds to an immediate social and economic crisis in their city inaugurated a new generation in education that would encompass the world.

It became the community school.

1935’s: Flint, Michigan opens five Community Schools...

By 1935, Mott had helped Flint open five community schools. Manley’s "eloquently simple" idea was to view education as a community enterprise rather than a schoolhouse phenomenon. The first step in developing a community school was to open the school doors to all community members. The second step was to use all extra clock hours, all the days, all the year to deliver programs that the community needed and wanted.

Postwar Flint begins a new Community School era...

Community schools were not just a fluke of Depression malaise. With the close of World War II, the city of Flint became an industrial boom town. Its population doubled. Instead of ending the need for community schools, an energetic new phase got underway. Every new school that was built in Flint started life as a full community school. The strength and variety of their programs were astounding.

Melby joins the Mott and Manley team...

During the flowering of Flint’s Community Schools in the 1950’s, Dr. Ernest O. Melby joined the faculty of Michigan State University. He was to move into a new stage of his distinguished career, after serving as dean and as president in leading American universities. Melby joined Mott and Manley to become the famous "3M think-tank" of community education. Together they explored new ways of shaping schools as true community enterprises. They began to speak of a much broader concept of community education to be the model for communities who value and support lifelong learning for everyone. One of the images they coined was the "lighted schoolhouse" to signify a grander vision of putting public facilities to expanded use for community purposes.';

1950’s - 1960’s: The Mott Foundation helps spread the word...

As news of Flint’s community schools spread, educators and community activists flocked to the city The Mott Foundation took on the role of host, and the whole town was a welcome wagon. Flint schools shined. Their programs bustled with nonstop action from sunrise singers to midnight basketball. From the young to the old, there were activities on target. The educational feast that visitors enjoyed in Flint was theirs to borrow and take back to their schools at home.

"To Touch a Child" tells the dynamic story of Community Schools...

Not everyone was fortunate enough to travel to Flint, Michigan to see community schools in action. But they had an alternative. The Mott Foundation Produced the story of community schools in the film, "To Touch a Child." It dramatized what had been done in Flint, but, more important, it challenged other communities to what could be done in their own schools. The film sent its message very simply: Through community schools we touch the community. What touches the community touches the home. What touches the home touches the heart of the child.

1963: Mott Fellowships builds leaders for Community Education...

In 1963 another great step was taken. The Mott Interdisciplinary Leadership Program was created at six Michigan universities. More than 600 educators took advantage of the masters, specialist and doctoral level programs to develop leadership for new community schools. Flint was now more than a thriving laboratory for community education. It had added a "farm system" for community school education. Educators had been given the means to gain knowledge, experience and leadership skills needed to install new community education programs in school systems everywhere.

Lou Tasse becomes a community educator in Flint...

When Louis J. Tasse first came to teach in Flint, Michigan in 1955, he could not believe he would be working in a place where all the public schools were open every night until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. - and an weekends and all year round - for everybody, children, youth, adults, families, senior citizens. He became a community school director in Flint and learned first-hand what the open and lighted schoolhouse was meant to be.

Miami-Dade recruits Lou Tasse to start Community Schools...

In September 1961, at the suggestion of Frank Manley, Lou Tasse accepted the opportunity to move to Miami and start a community school. The conditions in Miami were a quantum leap from Flint. By the 1960’s Miami-Dade was already the seventh largest schools system in the nation and expanding at a breakneck pace. The system was in the midst of court-order desegregation. The first massive influx of refugees from Cuba nah inundated the community and challenged the school system’s capacity to respond. There was no Mott Philanthropist to cushion the change.

1961 - Ada Merritt Junior High becomes Dade’s first Community School...

Lou Tasse’s assignment was to begin a community education program for the school system, but he knew it couldn’t be started in the central office. He needed a school. He got Ada Merritt, the oldest junior high in the county. At Ada Merritt Junior High School two-thirds of the children were Spanish speaking. Their parents were struggling to make a foothold. Lou Tasse began to work with his staff that had never heard of a community school. They used some Federal Cuban Refugee Funds to get started on the idea children, their parents and their non-Cuban neighbors needed to learn together. And learn they did! In a period of four months 1,200 were involved in helping themselves, their school and their neighborhood to improve.

1962 - The opportunity is given to open new Community Schools...

But how was the community education process to move on to other schools? In 1962 the Miami-Dade School Board passed a resolution the gave communities the opportunity to join in the effort. If a sponsoring community contributed $5,000, the school system would provide the started funds for a professional director and clerical support to establish a community school program. From that point the programs would be self supporting. schools could seek money from businesses, organizations, grants, special projects - plus the participants themselves who paid for their own tuition and supplies. Community education became an entrepreneurial system. By 1973, there were 36 community school centers operating in the county.

Community School Councils are organized...

One of the basic principles of community education is that members of the school’s community are the best source of information on the needs and problems to be addressed. Community schools therefore had to reach out beyond their own walls and bring in the people who could help. From this idea were born the first community school councils. Members who joined the councils served as sounding boards, trouble shooters, and good-news trumpeters for their community and school. The current school advisory committees that are now mandated in many school systems are said to owe their creation to these first community school councils.

Lou Tasse’s role as Coordinator of Community Education expands...

As the number and diversity of community education programs grew in Miami-Dade, Lou Tasse’s position as Coordinator of Community Education grew in dimension. He worked with local universities to provide in-service leadership programs for the growing number of staff moving into community school openings. He encouraged others to travel to Flint to observe and study there. Lou Tasse honed his own skills by retuning to Michigan State University to complete his doctorate as a fellow of the Mott Interdisciplinary Leadership Program. Dr. Tasse used his human and organizational talents to further nourish the mission he loved. Miami-Dade Public Schools was on its way to becoming a community education system.

1970 - Marge Pearlson begins the Palmetto story...

The myth that community schools were only needed in depressed neighborhoods was dramatically dispelled by one local housewife, Mrs. Marjorie Pearlson. She wanted to find worthwhile alternates to the rock concerts that that seemed to be the major leisure activities for her grandchild and other children living in the affluent Palmetto area. When she learned about something called a community school program, she did not relent until a community school program was opened in Palmetto Senior High School. From the day Marge Pearlson took her commitment to community education, the phrase, "It can’t be done" became obsolete.

1970- The Florida Community School Act is passed...

By the 1970’s the growing impact of community education had found advocates in Florida government. Bob Graham was a member of the Florida House of Representatives who, as a native of Miami-Dade County, had seen firsthand the power of local community school programs. Through his efforts and other advocates in the Florida Legislature, the Florida Community School Act was passed in 1970. This enabled the state budget to designate a categorical allocation specifically for the support of community education. State funding became an added incentive for school districts to start community schools and a welcome addition to programs already in existence. When in the 1980’s community education was among the many budget categories wrapped into the general allocation, counties like Miami-Dade were wise enough not to abandon their community schools but to continue needed funding as a local budget allocation.

1972 - The Eminent Scholar in Community Education is established at Florida Atlantic University...

Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton was one of the universities that Lou Tasse worked with in developing staff preparation programs for community schools. In the early 1960’s the Mott Foundation was persuaded to provide funds for a Center for Community Education at FAU. Dr. Melby became a winter resident of Boca Raton and served as the distinguished lecturer for the center. Dr. Vasil M. (Bill) Kerensky, a brilliant product of the Mott Interdisciplinary Leadership Program, was recruited to head the center. Bill Kerensky became a familiar figure in Miami-Dade County’s educational circles as teacher, inspirer and advocate for community education.When the Florida Legislature passed a law providing matching funds for eminent scholar chairs at state universities, the United States Sugar Corporation, the Mott Foundation and the family of Raymond and Marjorie Pearlson together contributed the major gift that established the first and still the nation’s only Eminent Scholar Chair in Community Education at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Kerensky was named to fill the honored position.

1976 - The Bicentennial brings the first "Turn on the Lights" for Community Education...

Miami-Dade County’s expansion of community schools was paralleled by increased interest in community education programs in other parts of Florida and in other states of the union. Lou Tasse was instrumental in starting the National Community Education Association and served as its president. In 1976, at the height of America’s Bicentennial Celebration, the National Community Education Association was holding its convention at the Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach. Marge Pearlson, who by now was known as "Mrs. Community Education" by her avid fans, had been named general chairperson of the convention. She proposed that the 2nd of December 1976 be celebrated as a "National Salute to Community Education" during the convention’s proceedings. The salute focused on a symbolic "turning on of the lights" in the community schools across the nation in an effort to "enlighten" citizen and legislators about the meaning of community education and its future potential. The Mott-Manley-Melby "lighted schoolhouse: vision had come full circle!

1989 - The Miami-Dade Coalition for Community Education is formed...

The late John I. Smith was a businessman and power broker who used his vast influence to improve public education for the young people of Miami-Dade County. In 1989 he called together a group of activists from the corporate, governmental, educational and socail community to consider establishing a local support group for community education. Out of this meeting was formed the Miami-Dade Coalition for Community Education.Since its beginning, the Coalition has been a vital force in carrying forth its mission: To strenghthen the sence of community by encouraging support of community education programs for everyone. The Coalition has worked to build awareness of the importance of community education, has helped to improve existing programs and create new ones, and has provided funds to "fill in the gaps" so that as many persons and programs as possible could benefit from community education

.All Dade Adult, Voc-Tech schools become Community Learning Centers...

In the early part of this century, immigrants from Europe took their first steps toward becoming American citizens in the "night schools" of this nation. Schools that were open at night taught countless numbers of adult newcomers the English language, citizenship courses, and trade skills they needed to make a successful start in thier new homeland. In a sense, these night schools were the community schools of their time.Perhaps that is why it is significant that as this century moved into its closing decade, the Miami-Dade School Board recognized the importance of designating its network of adult-vocational-technical centers under community education aegis. By naming these schools as community learning center the context of offerings could be expanded, funding resources could be used more effectively, and a broader scope of individuals of all ages would de served.

The 1990’s - The scope of Community Education needs and programs widens...

The decade of the nineties brought to education an onslaught of additional challenges that made the role of the community learning center even more crucial.Workforce demands occupy longer hours for today’s families. Consequently, schools have become safe havens of before and after school care for children, as well as critical partners in community programs to serve youth at risk. Schools have become the sites for "full service" by bringing the resouces of health and social service agencies on campus where they can be more effectively accessed. Schols have addressed the special responsibilities of serving the homeless families. As the life span of America’s population increases, opportunities for lifelong learning have become even more necessary in lives of seniors of all walks of life.When Hurricane Andrew struck in Dade County, schools became central to the vital work of protecting and restoring the community, while schools themselves had the daunting task of rebuilding their own structures and equipment damaged in the storm. In the newest welfare-to-work initiatives there are educational imperatives that must be addressed for clients and their families in the transition process.

1996 - A Summit is called on Community Education and Florida’s Future...

In December of 1996, Frenk Brogan, then Florida Commissioner of Education, convened an invitational Summit on Community Education and Florid’s Future at Florida Atlantic University. To follow through on issues raised at the summit, the Florida Department of Education organized a Practitioners Task Force representing leaders of community education from all regions of the state.After a full yearof regional and statewide study, the Practitioners Task Force made recommendations for restructing community education and set time tables in five priority areas: (1) accountabilty, (2) funding, (3) marking, (4) profession development, and (5) communication-collaboration technology. The report further emphasized the need to focus on child care, youth, family development literacy, welfare reform, job development, intergenerational and multicultural communities, and local agency partnerships. The Practitioners’ Task Force underscored the significant role and future potential of community education in Florida.

Community Education addresses the Third Millennium...

As Community Education recommits itself in the third millennium, each occasion must be both a clebration and rededication.Miami-Dade County can surely be proud of nearly 80 schools that operate as community learning centers, plus the multiples of programs that are in satellite schools and other locations throught the county. Our citizens can pay special tribute to the men and women who pioneered community education in South Florida and took justifiable pride in calling themselves community educators. Our nation can be truly proud of the part played by local educators in America and in many parts of the world.But our most precious celebration must be for the lives we have enriched, the job skills we have imparted, the new worlds we have opened for the countless thousands who have walked through the doors of our community schools these past four decades.Still, it is not in the nature of community education to be content with what is. The genius and joy of the "Lighted schoolhouse" is that the light shines ever outward. What shines in the learning community today is only a glimmer of what can be enlightened tomorrow. Community education must commit to renew and recreate itself so that it may shine with an even brighter light on the future. The question is how will we shape that future?




OFFICE OF COMMUNITY EDUCATION
AND BEFORE/AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS

11690 NW 92 Avenue, Miami, Florida 33018 : Phone: (305) 817-0014 : Fax: (305) 817-0013
Located @ Hialeah Gardens Middle School
Building #5 - Room #5310

M-DCPS : 1450 NE 2nd Ave. : Miami, FL 33132 : Phone: (305) 995-1000 (For Non Technical Questions Only) © 2015