Student volunteers organizing and clearing space for the new food pantry and clothes closet.

Since its opening a year ago, Brandon High School: A Community School has seen more engagement from the Brandon community, which has helped stock its shelves with food for its community pantry and clothing for its community closet. Staff, faculty, students and their families are all able to utilize the community school’s resources.

“Community has shown our program so much support that we are off to a tremendous start,” said Lauren Leto, community school resource teacher.

Brandon High School: A Community School is just one of the 17 community schools that are planned in Hillsborough County over the next year.

Original Story Printed July 2022.

Brandon High School will be making some changes for the 2022-23 school year that will better the lives of its students and families.

“Brandon High School will be a community school beginning 2022-2023,” said the school’s community school resource teacher, Lauren Leto. “The National Education Association (NEA) fully backs this program, and principals must apply to the community school system and be selected as a school of need.”

Hillsborough County will have 13 community schools come online this fall in an effort to better the lives of their students and families. Other states, such as Ohio and Wisconsin, have had success with the community school model.

Community schools are a ‘whole child,’ whole school improvement strategy where districts and their schools work closely with teachers, students and families and partner with community agencies and their local government to align community resources behind improving student outcomes.

“The program provides wraparound services for students, parents, teachers and neighbors,” Leto said. “We are developing a food pantry and clothing closet. I plan to partner with local businesses to have parent workshops as well.”

Leto has enlisted local businesses and nonprofits to help her.

“Brandon ECHO has already partnered with us on several projects,” Leto said. “Brandon Portillo’s has agreed to be a business partner to support teacher and student incentives, and in return, I will send prospective students for employment.” Leto is also working on forming a partnership with Keel Farms where students will be able to volunteer at Keel Farms to get more connected to agriculture.

Leto and the rest of the staff at Brandon High School are very excited for their school becoming a community school this fall.

“This has been on my heart for a while and I’m glad it is finally coming to life,” Leto said. “We want our students, their families, our teachers and our staff to know we are here for them and we are ready to help them in every way possible.”

If you are a local business and you would like to offer services to Leto to help Brandon High School with its community school program, you can contact Leto via email at

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Libby Hopkins
Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.