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Helping Hands


​Anxiety, poverty, relationship issues, pressure to succeed, and other stressors can have a significant impact on student success.

Wellness centers – an integral part of JUSD’s Community Schools program – provide resources to help students and families navigate a variety of obstacles so that they not only survive but thrive. The centers are in place at four district schools – Jurupa Valley High School, Rubidoux High School, Mira Loma Middle School, and Mission Middle School.

Students in the JVHS Zen Den holding up their craft from Wellness Wednesday“Now that we are a Community School, we’re moving toward the model of the whole child, said Jurupa Valley High School Community Schools teacher on special assignment Phillip Ramirez. “It aligns with our four pillars. One of our pillars is integrated student supports. We want to be here supporting the kids, not just academically but their …emotional needs and their social needs. Those are important life skills because after school, life happens.”

Jurupa Valley High School is part of the second cohort of the Community Schools initiative in Jurupa Unified. The district currently has 12 Community Schools in place and is planning to add a third cohort of schools next school year. The program is funded through the California Community Schools Partnership Program and aims to help communities serve the whole child and whole family. 

The Community Schools model includes four pillars: integrated student supports, family and community engagement; collaborative leadership and practices for educators and administrators, and extended learning time and opportunities.

“We want (Community Schools) to be a hub, a hub for the community, a hub for the students, for the staff… that they see it as a place to go to get resources,” said Coordinator of Pupil Services, Community Schools Monica Leon.

Mission Middle students smiling with their crafts made during Wellness WednesdayWellness centers, like the Jurupa Valley High School Zen Den, offer a place where students can find respite from everyday stressors. Fun furnishings, calming lighting, and music help students find a stress-free zone where they can collect their thoughts. Those needing a little extra support can even talk to a peer specialist or behavioral health professional. On Wellness Wednesdays, calming and fun activities are available, such as crafts and games. 

The program is filling a need, Mr. Ramirez said.

“Some of these kids are just overworking themselves,” Mr. Ramirez said. “There’s also outside factors. We’re seeing a lot of students (whose) parents are in poverty. It’s just something that affects their academics. They’re not worried about their homework when they’re worried about stuff that’s happening at home. “

Parenting classes, family technology classes, dance therapy classes, and Zumba also are offered. In addition, resources to assist with basic needs such as clothing and food resources also are available.

“We want to develop the whole child and sometimes that entails developing the families, Ms. Leon said. The staff listens to needs and then tries to address those needs. Relationships between students, staff, families, and the community are key.

JVHS students talking with a Wellness Center staff member during Wellness WednesdayMr. Ramirez added that Community Schools work together to provide families with the continuity of services they need.

“What we’re really focusing on is building a bridge with the other Community Schools,” he said. “If the parents, the family, and the students, are getting services at the middle school, those don't end when they come to the high school. We want it to be fluid.”

Mission Middle School’s Wellness Center has served 214 students this school year compared to 68, Community Schools Teacher on Special Assignment Chelsea Black said. Those services don’t only help students.

“Teachers also reap the benefits in the classroom since students have a place to regulate emotions and then return to class,” she said.

Wellness centers also provide resources that allow students to learn to give back to others, which can be a powerful tool for their own well-being. As an example, reading clubs allow high school students to read to elementary school students.

Building a community that cares about one another’s success can make a lasting positive impact," Ms. Leon said.

“It helps to create a positive mindset,” she said. “We all know that when we feel that sense of trust with somebody then we can flourish, we can really make connections with people.”