Maryland is leading the way in transforming education through the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future with a focus on equity, opportunity, and narrowing and closing achievement gaps for historically underserved children. The Blueprint specifically calls for more community schools which expand educational experiences and address the holistic needs of students by creating environments where every student can thrive academically, emotionally, and socially. In addition to empowering students and families, these innovative schools are building stronger communities by providing comprehensive services, fostering collaboration, and prioritizing student success.

A Collaborative Approach

With 700 enrolled students representing a diverse student body of 72% Hispanic and 17.8% African-American students in Montgomery County, Gaithersburg Elementary is a community school that provides services and support for students and their families that go beyond the classroom. Educators, families, and community organizations have come together to create a learning hub of collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and resource pooling. Together, the stakeholders weave a supportive network that addresses student needs and fosters a sense of belonging within the community.

“I feel like this [school] is a home for me and my family,” says Liliana Roque Mejia, a parent advocate at Gaithersburg Elementary. “They are more than just teachers, there is trust and friendship. This is such an important base for our community.”

Learning in Action:
Engaging students in the classroom with fun, educational activities.

Strengthening Families and the Community with Comprehensive Services and Strategies

Gaithersburg Elementary is committed to providing wraparound services and support and building a powerful sense of community. Engagement between school staff, educators, families, and community partners is essential for enriching the student experience and removing barriers to learning. Educators utilize evidence-based strategies to implement equitable services such as community and family resource centers, student-based health centers, wellness spaces, and Two-Way Dual Language Immersion programs.

Supporting students and families with the Community Resource Center at Gaithersburg Elementary School

Two-Way Dual Language Immersion Program

Two-Way Dual Language Immersion programs promote academic excellence through multicultural education with a mission for students to gradually become bilingual, biliterate, and socioculturally competent in two languages. With a high multilingual student and family population, Gaithersburg Elementary prioritizes student achievement through dual language education in English and Spanish. This form of instruction helps students learn literacy and content in both languages.

Supporting Students with Linkages to Learning

Bringing together community organizations, government agencies, and local businesses, Linkages to Learning creates a network of support for historically underserved students and families. Support services include providing access to academic support, social services, and the School Based Health Center.

Liliana Mejia, a local parent that has advocated for the Linkages to Learning program, has played a crucial role in encouraging families and students to connect with these services and resources.

“I’ve been working with Linkages to Learning and connecting other parents to the program, so they can get the things they need…The school staff supports me, answers my questions, and helps me feel comfortable.”

–  Liliana Mejia, Parent

Wellness Space & Mindful Moments in Prekindergarten

Enriching Student Experience

Gaithersburg Elementary provides various enrichment and outside-of-school activities through partnerships with Montgomery Soccerplex, the Montgomery County Recreational Department, Piano Pals, and Karate Club. The school hosts after school events such as monthly coffees, wellness classes for staff and students, and thrift shop nights. Additional resources of distribution to families in need include clothing, diapers, food, and household items to better support students who may need outside assistance. These events and activities are based on engaging with the community and listening to the needs of students and families through listening sessions and Community Needs Assessments.

“Rather than telling the community what we think they need, we held listening sessions with families. We use this data to guide our planning for community events and parent cafés. By utilizing the listening sessions and Community Needs Assessment, the school is able to provide the community with exactly what they need.”

– Kristina Max, Community School Liaison

The Future Outlook

Maryland’s community schools will continue to be at the forefront of educational innovation, empowering students while providing essential support to educators and the communities. Under the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, community schools are recipients of the Concentration of Poverty Grant: a distribution of funding and permanent per-pupil dollars. As the state continues to implement the Blueprint to define expectations of community partnerships and invest in the growth of community schools, we celebrate the mission of Gaithersburg Elementary in supporting their students, families, and community.

Gaithersburg Elementary is one of 26 community schools in Montgomery County, and 358 in the state. We encourage you to learn more about community schools and the services they provide for our communities and families.

Learn more about community schools