A “pioneer” in the Community School Movement was 1929 Elsie Ripley Clapp when she took John Dewey’s thinking on democracy into The Ballard Memorial School in Jefferson County Kentucky. Not all that far from Mayfield, Kentucky where today the public high school is still standing after last night’s devastating series of tornadoes.

Mayfield High School has been turned into a shelter. People are taking refuge there. They are being fed, treated for injuries, fed nourishing, cafeteria meals. Clothing is provided, WiFi, relocation services, even transportation to another safe destination.

It does not take much to imagine this as an example of a community school IN ACTION. No one chose this weather catastrophe but it serves to remind us of what resources community schools can coordinate when administering to The Moment.

Elsie Clapp later ran a community school in FDR’s industrially ravaged Arthurdale, West Virginia. Starving families were literally selling body & soul just to stay alive when this Great Depression era school sprang up from a buckwheat farm and began demonstrating how public schools can enter a crisis and become the HUB and the ❤️ HEART of people-directed restoration and recovery.

Charter schools are in no position to do any of this work. It is not in their “DNA”. But it is the genetic makeup of community schools and there is plenty of crisis at hand. The Pandemic is the monster opportunity but so is the climate crisis headed our way.

Elsie Ripley Clapp learned how to enter, enjoy and energize the very humane energy stream of people-powered problem-solving. Community schools walk right into the middle of the fray, facing it head-on because they are the practical embodiment of We The People.