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  What is a Community School?

A community school is both a place and set of collective partnerships between Rochester Public Schools, United Way of Olmsted County, the individual school site, and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, health, social services, youth and community development, and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities. A full-service community school has components engaging instructions, expanded learning opportunities; college, career, and citizenship; health and social support; community engagement; early childhood development; family engagement; and youth development.

Meet Our Team:

Julie Ruzek


About Julie:

Julie is the Coordinator of Family and Community Engagement and Title I Programming. She works at the district-level on a variety of projects and initiatives. More specifically, she has facilitated the implementation of the community schools model at three current Rochester Public Schools sites. Working with people and collaborating with partners for student success is one of her greatest passions! Other passions include her family, friends, reading and traveling.

District Facilitator of Family and 
Community Engagement

Volunteer Coordinator | Email

Justin Stoll

About Justin:

Justin works at the district level of Community Schools as the Partnership Specialist, a position made possible by the United Way of Olmsted County. He focuses on expanding the Community Schools efforts in Rochester, building the collaborations with new and existing partners, tracking our data, and finding new ways to support our students. Outside of the school day, Justin is exploring his new home of Minnesota with his wife and their big red dog, Finn.


Community Schools Partnership Specialist
United Way of Olmsted County | Email

Kari Kolling Anderson

About Kari:

Kari is the Community School Site Facilitator at Gage Elementary. She believes our students deserve all of the support the school, community, and families can provide in partnership to ensure their success. Kari is a graduate of RPS, a veteran teacher in our schools, and a proud mother of two current RPS students. Outside of school, Kari loves to read, cook, travel, and attend concerts and plays.


Community School Site Facilitator
Gage Elementary | Email

Lida Casper

About Lida:

Lida is the Site Facilitator at Riverside Central Elementary. She has taught in schools across the country, from New York City to rural Alaska and finally, here in Rochester. She became a teacher because she believes that every child, regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status deserves the right to an excellent education. Her current role as Community Schools Site Facilitator allows her to work toward this mission by engaging families and community, providing excellent instruction, enriching opportunities and pathways toward a bright future.

Community School Site Facilitator
Riverside Central Elementary | Email


Nicole Wibstad

About Nicole:

Nicole is the site facilitator at Rochester Alternative Learning Center. She enjoys connecting students with the community; a great day at work means a student made a connection that caused a newfound confidence and a hope for the future. Outside of her role at RALC, Nicole enjoys her family, friends, learning to belly dance, and hiking.

Community School Site Facilitator
Rochester ALC | Email

Community Schools in the News

This unique journey started with students designing mini murals, then teaming up with folks from Good Space Murals and Youth Service America to name a few. Those ideas were incorporated into the final product – a bright, student-filled masterpiece.

Photograph of mural on the exterior of Riverside Central

The mural that wraps around the northwest corner of Riverside Central Elementary School is a culmination of years of work and partnerships with more than a dozen community organizations.

Classroom instruction alone isn't enough to meet the needs of many students here. So, Riverside's leaders have embraced a nationally recognized arts initiative, together with a full-service schooling model where education, health care and other student and family needs are met under one roof.