Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dr. Theresa Coble


Dr. Matthew Davis

Dr. Tom Hoerr


All children should have access to the American Dream by receiving a meaningful and equitable educational opportunity that prepares them to be successful in school and life thereafter. Today, many children are denied this dream over and over again. Minority and low-income children often face multiple barriers that stagnate their growth; resulting in equity and achievement gaps. Schools that implement the community schools strategy integrate resources and services from family, school, and community partners to prepare students for success in meeting the demands of the twenty-first century. Community schools are hubs with evening and weekend hours that bring together a collection of supports and services for students and their families and the community at large.

A qualitative case study of an urban school in the St. Louis region with a student population comprised of 99.3% African American was used to understand the role of family, school, and community engagement and its effects on school climate, academic success, and long-term sustainability. This study also looked at historical data for St. Louis Community School components and used an historical school as a suggested community school model. Archival research and in-depth interviewing were the primary data sources used in this study. Twenty participants engaged in in-depth, face-to-face interviews to seek a deeper understanding of the role of administrators, teachers, families, and community organizations in a community partnership program and their influence on student and community outcomes.

This study highlighted the importance of the following elements of a community school system: (1) collaborative leadership and family engagement, (2) integrated student support services and high-quality educational resources, and (3) expanded learning time and support for the whole child. These elements are important for family, school, and community partners to understand so they can better meet the needs of a diverse student population whose needs extend beyond the walls of the school.