Education

New Service Center Opens At Kashmere High, Offers Lesson In Community School Model

“The community school, how it looks and how it’s developed really should be defined by that individual community.”

Students on a youth council and members of a community board helped create the new Kashmere Success Center on campus. The marching band celebrated the opening this week.
Students on a youth council and members of a community board helped create the new Kashmere Success Center on campus. The marching band celebrated the opening this week.

Many educators would say that their work goes beyond teaching subjects like reading and math. They see students struggle with things from depression to homelessness.

One former teacher is trying to fill in the gap with a new multiservice center at Kashmere High School in Northeast Houston.

On Wednesday, the new center opened with a bang.

Beating on drums and blowing horns, the Kashmere marching band led teachers, students and community members from the courtyard to the back of campus where six temporary buildings were lined up in a row.

Inside each room, students can find help for a specific need, like speech therapy.

“Clinicians, one-on-one support that is consistent or the student really needs it today,” explained Adeeb Barqawi as he led a tour of the rooms. He taught at Kashmere for three years and saw his students struggle with basic needs.

After teaching at Kashmere High School for three years, Adeeb Barqawi launched a nonprofit, called ProUnitas, to link students with more wrap-around social services on campus.
After teaching at Kashmere High School for three years, Adeeb Barqawi launched a nonprofit, called ProUnitas, to link students with more wrap-around social services on campus.

Now he’s launched a new non-profit to connect them with more wrap-around social services and other resources — right on campus.

Another room has a computer lab where kids can research future jobs. And another is a pantry with beans and rice and clothes.

“Basically, it’s like a humongous closet that is shelved and the clothes are hanged and shoes and basically essential needs for the house,” Barqawi said.

His nonprofit, called ProUnitas, is working with the Houston Independent School District, more than 30 nonprofits and agency and community members. The goal is to create real change to systemic problems, and empower local communities.

“For every need, there is a service, there is a program, there is an initiative. But these cannot act in silos. There must be a platform that brings the community together and supports them,” he said.

Already the new Kashmere Success Center has worked with more than 200 students since January. There’s a similar center at nearby Key Middle School.

Some education leaders say the new centers reflect the idea of a “community school” model in education that they want to grow in Houston.

“The community school, how it looks and how it’s developed really should be defined by that individual community that is representative of that area,” said Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. “So it may look very different in different spots.”

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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