Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it truly takes community involvement to help educate every student and keep the community strong.
Though teachers are often viewed as the sole educators of students, raising engaged, mindful, conscientious children results from strong community involvement. By reaching out to other members within a community, teachers aren’t neglecting or delegating their duties in education. On the contrary, educators who promote community involvement are taking an important step toward improving the education of their students. According to the New Hampshire Department of Education, strong support of students from local communities “…improves school-related behaviors, positively impacts academic achievement, and reduces school suspension rates.” Enlist the help of school neighbors and local residents to help children succeed through community involvement.
1. Connect to the Community
Reach out to the local community board to see if its leaders are available to meet with teachers and administrators to share responsibilities regarding student education. Forge a mutually beneficial connection that will increase community involvement and open the possibilities of collaborating on methods to keep the neighborhood safe, educational, and nurturing for local students.
2. Open for School Businesses
Through collaborating with community leaders, identify local businesses that might be interested in taking a role in students’ education. By sponsoring different activities, or being available to educate kids regarding their businesses, local vendors and organizations can assume an active role in education. For instance, a visit to a local pizzeria for a tour could complement lessons in food science. A local lumber yard might have surplus materials to donate that would be helpful for makerspace projects or illustrating concepts in responsible forestry science initiatives.
3. Becoming a Local Safe Haven
Organize meetings with parents, teachers, school administrators, police, mental health professionals, and local business leaders to help combat bullying before, during, and after school. Come together and discuss the signs of bullying, which will help attendees identify bullies and students who are being bullied. Ask business owners and organization leaders to volunteer their spaces as a safe haven for bullied children and have police advise these adults regarding the safest steps for defusing a bullying situation.
4. Make the Alumni Connection
Many schools that have strong ties to the local community remain connected with alumni for many years after graduation. Remaining in contact with past students provides opportunities for school fundraising, career and internship contacts for students, and stronger school support through community involvement. Alumni who look back fondly at their time spent within a certain school could be more inclined to volunteer, donate to support improvements, and keep the district viable by sending their own children to the place where they received a quality education and enjoyed learning.
5. Receive Help, Give Help
Teach kids to give back to others through increasing their own community involvement. Organize trips to spend time with residents at local nursing homes, learn about protecting native wildlife in area parks, and perform community cleanup within the neighborhood. Not only will children learn to become the active community participants from whom they are seeking help, local residents will appreciate the reciprocal relationship with students.
Taking these steps to increase community involvement benefits students, but will also bring together locals. Once connections have been established with local businesses, organizations, and alumni, be sure to also connect with them through social media and email newsletters to ensure the lines of communication remain open and clear.