Published in AASA's School Administrator Magazine, this article presents a three-part scaffold for local schools to capture the public's trust and build on it for student benefit.
In one of my recent blogs, I shared my thoughts on the importance of building relationships within the school with a commitment to follow up with a Part 2 focusing on relationships outside the school. (Click here to read Part 1) Over the past 20 years, I have had the opportunity to work with community partners in a variety of capacities. I have also learned that among school districts, buildings, and classrooms - school/community partnerships range from doors wide open to closed with a lock on the front door. No question there has to be a balance, but it is important to err more on the side of an open door policy than a closed one.
We acquired the word "mentor" from the literature of ancient Greece. In Homer's epic The Odyssey, Odysseus was away from home fighting and journeying for 20 years. During that time, Telemachus, the son he left as a babe in arms, grew up under the supervision of Mentor, an old and trusted friend. When the goddess Athena decided it was time to complete the education of young Telemachus, she visited him disguised as Mentor and they set out together to learn about his father. Today, we use the word mentor for anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another (usually younger) person's life.1
In the late 1990’s when I first started taking classes in school administration, one of the required courses was titled, “School Community Relations.” The class included a textbook by the same name with content including media strategies, theories and practice on parent/community involvement, legal issues, etc. The unfortunate truth is this graduate class did little to prepare me for the complexities of community relations. Certainly, experience is a great teacher, but there have been many “I wish I had only known…” moments in my attempts to build stronger partnerships between my school and community.
Topics: Community Engagement