Creating a community of caring individuals.
Bowling Park Elementary School is located in the midst of a public housing community in Norfolk -- and the school and the community have faced all of the problems and difficulties endemic to many low-income, inner-city neighborhoods. In 1992, determined to make the school both a safe-haven for students and a source of community renewal, Bowling Park embarked on an ambitious new venture: It would become a CoZi Community School.
The school is a demonstration site for a collaborative effort launched by two nationally known school reform leaders, Edward Zigler, Sterling Professor of Psychology at Yale University, and James P. Comer, Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center (the acronym CoZi was coined from the first letters of their last names). Zigler has created a nationwide network of "Schools for the 21st Century," and Comer is nationally known for the School Development Program, which encourages community engagement with local schools and a collaborative shared governance of the school.
CoZi combines elements of both approaches to provide a comprehensive strategy to create change in schools and address the critical needs of children and families. The new approach unites the School of the 21st Century's family services components with the child development principles of the School Development Program.
Bowling Park aims explicitly to create a "community of caring individuals" whose goal is to ensure that children develop and learn to their fullest. It emphasizes collaborative teaching and learning with support services for children and their families. CoZi's has five goals:
The ultimate goal of CoZi: to create an environment within the school that maximizes opportunities for administrators, teachers, and parents to work together to help all children realize their full academic and social potential.
Will the CoZi approach work? Only time will tell. But if energy and commitment in the school and the school community -- from the school board down -- combined with the help of some of the leading experts on school reform means anything, Bowling Park will soon be reaping the benefits of this new innovation.
For additional information:
Lorraine K. Flood
Norfolk Public Schools
Norfolk, VA 23504