More than any single person, Joy Dryfoos was the inspiration behind the revitalization of the community schools movement in this country and the development of the Coalition for Community Schools.
Joy was a rigorous researcher, who sought to help people understand the truth about the lives of disadvantaged young people. Joy was not content just doing the research; she pushed people to act and make changes to better the lives of young people.
I remember meeting Joy nearly 20 years ago as part of the development of the Together We Can Guide. She joined our last study panel meeting and pressed hard for simplicity and clarity in our effort to describe how education and human services must work together. She wanted us to get the ‘nuts and bolts’ straight so people in the field would have a clear picture of what to do.
Joy did that in her first book about community schools published in 1994, Full-Service Schools: A Revolution in Health and Social Services for Children, Youth, and Families, helping people begin to see the potential for change in joint action by schools and human services organizations of all kinds.
And her book Inside Full Service Community Schools, written in 2002 with Sue Maguire, an elementary school principal, Joy took the next step using Sue’s experience to give people a road map for action.
By then Joy had become a founding partner in the Coalition for Community Schools. She was the only individual that the Coalition, a network of organizations, ever had as a partner, and she fulfilled that role for many years, helping the Coalition get organized, develop a coherent vision, and move to action.
It was Joy who first brought the American Federation of Teachers in as a Coalition partner, and now the AFT is among the most important resources in the community schools movement.
Most of all however, I will remember Joy as an endlessly positive and warm person. The picture you see of Joy tells the story – a woman having a good time, toasting community schools, and celebrating life.
She was always grateful for what we were trying to do to organize more community schools across the country to help kids succeed. And Joy was especially full of pride about what people in local communities were doing. She never failed to have a kind word about what the Coalition was doing, but always pushing us to do more.
Every one of us involved with community schools today owes a debt to Joy Dryfoos. She will forever be a giant in our field, and I will always hear her asking me…and you…how is it going? Can’t we do more?
May her memory, and her inspiration, be a blessing to us all.
President Institute for Educational Leadership
Director, Coalition for Community Schools