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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

Derrick Fritz

About Derrick:

Derrick Fritz is the Health AmeriCorps VISTA for the 2019-2020 School Year. Derrick is a Stewartville native and has lived in Olmsted County almost his entire life. After obtaining his Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Community Health Education and pursuing professional opportunities in Washington D.C. and Wisconsin, he is excited to return to Minnesota and improve the health and wellbeing of students in Rochester Community Schools.

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a federal program where individuals work to reduce poverty and advance solutions in local communities. As an AmeriCorps VISTA Member, Derrick commits to a year of service. Throughout his term, he will gather and analyze health data, collaborate with Olmsted County partners to provide services to students and create communications of Rochester Community Schools’ work.


AmeriCorps Volunteers in
Service to America

AmeriCorps VISTA | 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

Photograph of 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

Erin Vasquez

Erin Vasquez

About Erin:

Erin Vasquez is John Marshall High School’s Community School Site Facilitator. Erin is motivated by her students’ innate curiosity to learn, the desire to continue to learn ways to better serve students and families and the excitement that continuously fills the air in every school building. When Erin is not at work, you may find her hitting the bike trails with her children, delving into a good book, or planning her next travel adventure.

Community School Site Facilitator
John Marshall High School | Email

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