Getting Local Communities Involved in Schools Helps Students Succeed
Family and community engagement is vital to creating successful schools and communities. The connections between these entities—when built on relationships, listening, welcoming, and shared decision making——can have multiple benefits for students, including higher grade point averages and test scores, better attendance, better social skills, increased motivation, and improved behavior. In addition, these connections also help to address many important nonschool factors, such as community health, safety, and affordable housing (Ferlazzo, 2011). Every day throughout the country, school and community partnerships are making great progress in helping students succeed—and ultimately achieving their goal of helping young people become vital, contributing members of society.
Today's American Education Week focus—"Educator for a Day" invites schools nationwide to open their doors to members of the community to make them feel welcome, build relationships, and see firsthand where their resources are needed. To highlight the importance of family and community involvement in schools, we've compiled a number of whole child examples that showcase the successes of school-community partnerships. Each example highlights a program, focus, or achievement and includes links to more information. Take a look, share the links, and talk about the schools and communities.
Central Kentucky School Proves the Importance of Community
Royal Spring Middle School's success can largely be attributed to the close bonds between the school and the local community, as well as the dedication of students, staff, and parents to the school's daily proceedings. By being designated a Kentucky School to Watch by whole child partner National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, Royal Spring has set itself apart from many schools throughout the state.
Community Partners Serve as Guides to Healthy Lives
Opportunity Elementary School—winner of the Healthy School Award from Washington State ASCD—is no stranger to overcoming health challenges. Located in Spokane, Washington, the school has implemented a variety of programs to teach healthy choices to its students, the majority of whom are disadvantaged. By partnering with faith-based organizations, college groups, and the local food bank, the school provides its students and their families with the skills and resources necessary to lead healthy lives.
Outreach Programs Bring a Community Together
Washington State ASCD awarded Madison Elementary School its 2012 Safe School Award for helping to ensure the success and safety of its at-risk populations. Madison's multitude of outreach programs strengthens bonds with parents and the community through family learning nights, a community garden, and partnerships with other schools and nonprofit organizations.
Harnessing Leadership Potential to Keep Teens in School
Fontana Unified School District was awarded the grand prize grant in whole child partner National School Board Association's 2013 Magna Awards for its Fontana Leadership Intervention Program (FLIP). FLIP, which is directed at middle and high school students, offers students a variety of classes ranging from ethics to drug and alcohol resistance and also requires participation in community projects and seminars by parents. This multifaceted outreach has already made a visible difference in behavior issues at both the middle and high school levels.
When Well-Being Comes First, Developmental Success is Sure to Follow
Wanniassa School has been named a MindMatters school by whole child partner Principals Australia Institute in light of its commitment to mental health. The dual campus school, located in Wanniassa, Australia, is notable for its diverse student body and in-house support centers for disengaged students. Fresh off of a three-year school climate study, Wanniassa prioritizes student health and well-being through both in-school programming and external wellness training for student ambassadors. The effect of these initiatives can be seen in a dramatic drop in suspensions in just two years, as well as in academic benchmarks.
"When all stakeholders unite their efforts, it communicates the message that the whole community has a responsibility to advocate for better schools."
—John Rogers, education professor at University of California, Los Angeles