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Community Schools

Community Schools Program

Have you heard of the Community Schools or Court School program?  These students need our support:

Community Schools is an alternative education program for students expelled from the school or on probation.  The Community Schools may also serve homeless students and students referred by their local school district with parent consent.

There are four Community School locations in San Mateo County: North – SSF Boys and Girls Club; Gateway – Tower Road in San Mateo serving middle through high school; Central – Redwood City Boys and Girls Club; South – EPA Boys and Girls Club.

Each school has a teacher, an aide, a group supervisor from the County Probation Dept. and Special Education services.  There are about 20-30 students per class.  The program utilizes best practices for alternative education that promote positive stunt engagement and investment in their education in a culture of caring and respect.  Solid relationships and rapport with staff and peers lead to changes in student attitudes.  Most students attend for 1-2 semesters and then return to their districts.

How many of the 441 students who attended the Community Schools program in 2011-2012 were from your school district?

  • Jefferson High School District – 21

  • Menlo Park – 1

  • Millbrae – 1

  • Ravenswood – 9

  • Redwood City Elementary – 9

  • San Bruno Park – 1

  • San Mateo-Foster City – 4

  • San Mateo Union High School District – 188

  • Sequoia Union High School District – 192

  • SSF Unified – 12


17th District PTA officers have toured and learned more about Community Schools and Court Schools.  Hillcrest Court School at the San Mateo Youth Services Center is a lockdown residential facility for students who are either waiting for a court hearing or have been placed there by the court due to their hearing.

About 1300 children go through Hillcrest annually, and up to 120 can be there any time.  Those who are at Camp Glenwood have drug or alcohol abuse problems, and those at Canyon Oaks have therapeutic needs.


It has been requested that the 17th District PTAs/PTSAs fund sets of novels for their English classes and paperback books for the libraries.  They specifically would like: 

  1. Sets of the novel Left for Dead: A Young Man’s Search for Justice to the USS Indianapolis

  2. Art Instruction

  3. Restorative Justice Training




These students do not have a PTA/PTSA to support them.   Your or your PTA can help support these students in two ways: 

  1. Make a financial donation via your PTA Council or 17th District PTA remittance form.  The 17th District PTA has set a goal of $3000 to assist the Community Schools/Court Schools children.

  2. Donate to the Follett-Titlewish online book fair, where teachers can order these novels with your online donations.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to help provide books for these students?  If you have any questions, contact Lori McBride, Community Schools liaison, at


Community Schools Music Videos


In September, 17th District PTA Board members Keiko Smith, Emily Sarver, and Lori McBride met with Megan Price, Community Schools Educational Services Manager, to visit and tour the Central Community School at the Redwood City Boys and Girls Club location.  Three students provided us with a tour and shared information about the support services they receive.  The small, nurturing environment enables them to have a successful educational experience.  This facility has a computer lab, digital recording studio (Adobe Youth Voices Peapod Academy), gym, dance studio, and kitchen.  They offer many enrichment activities.  Megan said the schools at the Boys and Girls Club locations provide the richest experiences.

In 2006, the Boys and Girls Club in Redwood City received a grant from the Adobe Youth Voices Peapod Academy, a partnership between the Peapod Foundation and Adobe Youth Voices.

“Demonstrating the power of technology to engage middle- and high school-age youth, Adobe Youth Voices provides breakthrough learning experiences using video, multimedia, digital art, web, animation, and audio tools that enable youth to explore and comment on their world.”

The students have written, produced, and performed three music videos and won the National award.  They were flown to Washington, DC, to perform for the President and the National Youth Conference Summit at the White House!

Below are three music videos produced by the Community Schools students that I think you will enjoy viewing:


On Nov. 10, 2011, I attended the Fox Theatre (Redwood City) debut of “Angel in My Sky, “ANGEL IN MY SKY” is a coming-of-age story of a young man who searches for answers during a tragic time in his life. He learns a powerful lesson in faith, forgiveness, and staying true to your word. Adobe Youth Voices Peapod Academy members worked together to write, produce, film, and edit this short film.

The student stars arrived in a limo and were greeted by a cheering crowd!  Here is the link for your viewing:


All the schools are working towards Restorative Justice processes such as Restorative Circles, which are facilitated community meetings attended by offenders, victims, friends, family, community members, and justice system representatives.

When asked about possible ways the 17th District PTAs can support the Community Schools, Megan said they could use:

  1. Sets of books for the students and library books

  2. Art instruction

  3. Restorative Justice Training


Megan said that $3,000 could support all three of these needs.

Community Schools “Seed to Table” Program


The Seed-to-Table Program was piloted at Community School South during the summer of 2006. The program's mission is to foster in students an understanding of where their food comes from and how their food choices affect and impact their environment and health. Through experiential learning in both the garden and kitchen, students can organically grow their fruits and vegetables, then take their harvest and prepare healthy and nutritious dishes in the kitchen. Students are taking the seeds they’ve grown and cultivated to the table. Their hands-on work is supported by a curriculum that explores plant biology, environmental science, food justice issues, and nutrition.

The San Mateo County Office of Education, Community School South, and the Boys and Girls Club of EPA worked collaboratively to carve out a small section of the Boys and Girls Club’s lawn to establish the 2,100 square-foot garden. The garden is in its final stages of completion and contains 3-bin compost, raised and in-ground beds, an irrigation system, and a tool shed. The students have been eagerly anticipating the garden's completion so they can begin planting their winter crops. Plans for the program include a greenhouse; establishing a native-plant garden at a local non-profit, YUCA (Youth United for Community Action); field trips to local farms and urban gardens; and collaborations with other local school garden groups.

garden compost bins
garden tool shed

Views of the raised garden beds (top) and the tool shed (bottom). 17th District PTA will be helping to support this program, using Student Aid donations from PTA units throughout San Mateo County.

After the Winter Semester


The Garden Class at Community School South (CSS) just completed a successful fall semester! Students learned about the impacts of global warming and that one fifth of our fossil fuel consumption goes towards the harvesting, processing, and transportation of our food. We emphasized the concepts of eating seasonally, locally, and organically through our class curriculum, field trip to the Redwood City Farmers’ Market, and seasonal recipes which were prepared in the kitchen. In addition, students broke ground in the garden, planting the garden’s first crops, which included cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, and strawberries, to name a few. Below is an excerpt from a student reflection on the semester.

“I am a student at CSS and I have been in Garden Class for a semester. I have learned about how global warming affects the earth. I have also learned how to properly plant plants. One more thing that I learned was how to cook. These things are important because it gives me experience for the future with skills that I can use. My favorite part of Garden Class is learning about the earth because now I know that I have to take care of it. I decided to take another semester of Garden Class because I know it is a good experience for me.”

We are looking forward to the spring semester where students will focus on human, plant, and soil nutrition and have the opportunity to harvest the winter crops and prepare the garden for summer.

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