Klea Scharberg

Community Engagement Roundup

In May, we examined the benefits of creating active communities that are a meaningful part of a whole child education. Collectively we have the knowledge, skill, and ability to meet challenges and share strengths. So, what's holding us back? Every school, community, classroom, educator, student, and family has unique challenges and strengths and a role to play in ensuring that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. With this in mind,

  • Who is your community?
  • What does involvement look like in your community?
  • How do you plan to build and sustain your community's involvement in educating the whole child?

Our ASCD community includes the residents of Joplin, Mo., where a deadly tornado devastated the city on May 22. No community is immune to the effects of economic, social, and natural disasters. In response to Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, ASCD developed a series of workshops that focus on helping educators meet displaced students' academic, physical, and emotional needs. These materials were requested for use with Joplin Schools. Educators in all locales are invited to download the workshop materials and lesson plans to use with their colleagues:

  • Building Resiliency: Introduces participants to an understanding of resiliency and how it pertains to individuals not only in an educational context but also in a context related to crisis, trauma, or cataclysmic events.
  • Supporting Positive School Culture and Climate: Targets the importance of school culture and climate.
  • Exploring New Roles for Families, Schools, and Communities: Focuses on developing a collaborative environment that will support quality learning and improve family outcomes.

Classes at Joplin Schools will begin in 72 days, and more than 260 classrooms must start from scratch. When students come back to school, the district would like the classrooms to feel as normal, warm, and welcoming as possible. If you would like to help, please participate in the "Adopt-a-Classroom" program. Joplin Schools will partner you or your organization with a Joplin teacher who will let you know the specific things he or she needs to create a fun and inviting classroom again.

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Hugh Price, a visiting professor in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and former president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League; Dave LaRose, superintendent of the South Kitsap School District in Washington State where he has developed partnerships with community agencies, health organizations, mentoring programs, and faith-based leaders to provide the resources students need to succeed in school; and Deborah Wortham, former superintendent of the Steelton-Highspire School District in Pennsylvania and former assistant superintendent for high schools and director of professional development for Baltimore (Md.) City Public Schools.

Consider what whole child education means to parents. Parents want to know more about how we define community and what exactly we expect community members to do. How do we listen and engage in conversations that reinforce a shared responsibility for each child's success?

Start and maintain community conversations that lead to action for the whole child with The Community Conversations Project: A Guide for Informal Discussion Groups. Not only is the guide free, but we are here to answer your questions, be a sounding board for your ideas, and help you troubleshoot.

Reinforce the concept that education is a team effort with articles and perspectives from the May 2011 issues of ASCD Express and Educational Leadership. Getting families, educators, and students to work together can have a substantial effect on students' education, providing a foundation that will help guide students down the right path in life.

Expand the conversation around systemic change that improves the health, well-being, growth, and development of their students, staff, and schools by including educators (teachers, school staff, and administrators) and community members (families, businesses, and agencies).

Learn about engagement strategies that will strengthen education reform efforts from the National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group. What will it take to ensure that family and community engagement are at the core of national innovation and reform strategies?

Watch archived presentations from the series "Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School, and Community Engagement," sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, United Way Worldwide, National PTA, SEDL, and the Harvard Family Research Project. Session topics include community engagement in education reform, the teacher-parent relationship, building strategic partnerships, and ensuring school readiness.

Move your school and community along a continuum from connecting with stakeholders to empowering partners. Read comments and watch presentations by Healthy School Communities mentor sites from Ontario, Canada, and Indiana for ideas and strategies.

Read how schools and communities in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Oregon are working together to provide services, enrich learning, and support one another.

Find ways to creating meaningful partnerships between schools, families, and communities from whole child partners America's Promise Alliance, Coalition for Community Schools, National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education, National Parent Teacher Association, National School Boards Association, and Public Education Network.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Edutopia offers dozens of articles on what community engagement can look like, including tips from an Alaskan school district on how to get a community on board for school reform; how the Boston Arts Academy creates beneficial community relationships; and the benefits of linking rural schools to their communities, with examples from Connecticut, Maine, South Dakota, Arizona, and Montana. In this video, an elementary school in Nevada harnesses parents, businesspeople, and retirees for academic and financial support and to staff after-school programs.

Are your school and community looking for the "will" or the "way" to create powerful partnerships?

Comments (1)

Daily Reads | June 8, 2011 | Kything

June 12, 2011

[...] Why and how community engagement is crucial [...]

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