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How To Build Your School's Community: Part One

Updated on January 29, 2012
A school's community supports a quality education. (source: freedigitalphoto.net, koratmember
A school's community supports a quality education. (source: freedigitalphoto.net, koratmember

What Is A School Community?

Let's start by understanding what a community is composed of and its purpose. A community is a group of people with common shared values, interests, preferences and needs who support a better quality of life. There is a level of social cohesion that supports the structure of the group and leads to unity of decisions in promoting the future growth of the community.

With the definition understood, we can then build an active school community that will provide children with a loving, safe and happy learning environment. Children are the center of the community and effort must be focused on creating a learning experience supportive of the social and emotional well being of students. All stakeholders (parents, teachers, and students) will form a culture that moves forward to ensure the positive direction of daily school operation which will ensure a quality education and better future for children.

Getting Started

Getting people actively involved is an important first step. When I was a director of a child care center I formed a parent partnership to increase school interest, support program activities, and help with future planning. The idea caught on and was integrated nationally into the company.

We had a strong interest due to the "marketing" of the parent partnership. Here's a summary of how we drew attention and commitment from the parents.

  • Newsletter announcements were placed two months in advance of the first meeting. Highlights mentioned were the purpose of the partnership, the benefits to the children and future planning for growth and quality in center programs.
  • One month in advance, posters were placed in the hallways and classrooms in high traffic areas and at check-in tables. Teachers talked to parents about the partnership and encouraged them to attend the meeting. This was followed by notes placed in backpacks two weeks later as a reminder.
  • A week prior to the first introductory meeting, an agenda was sent by email to parents who had expressed interest in joining. A couple days before the meeting, the administration and staff personally thanked parents as they came in to the school for committing their time and efforts to the partnership.
  • We invited the District Manager and associated clients to attend the parent partnership to support the cause. The District Manager gave a brief overview of the program, history, accomplishments, goals of the school and thanked the parents for coming. Having the District Manager attend demonstrated the importance the company placed upon this partnership.
  • Many functions will always draw attendance if refreshments are served so we served a complete dinner along with dessert at the beginning of the meeting. This was also mentioned in the newsletter and listed on the agenda to promote attendance.
  • We gave out door prizes and each parent received a small gift of appreciation for attending.
  • Parents were personally thanked as they exited the meeting room and a follow-up note of appreciation was sent out the very next day.
  • The details of the meeting were posted in the next newsletter along with an invitation to join the committees formed at the next parent partnership meeting.

Those parents with high interest in their child's education stepped up immediately to join the partnership and headed committees formed at the introductory meeting. The next step was to reach those parents who were strong school supporters but had not yet responded. These parents the Assistant Director or I would intercept on their way in or out of the school and personally invite them to join the group. The new committee members were empowered to pursue parent interest in joining committees and to assist in marketing the program to other school parents.

A Community Has Its Benefits

As stated earlier, a community has shared interest and this is what drives the members to contribute and support program activities. The school community therefore establishes a linked family membership to build school programs where each child benefits from the partnership. In the partnership mentioned earlier, parents were highly motivated to participate because their children attended and they felt a belonging. When asked, parents said they believed the partnership would benefit their children over time with an understanding of social responsibility and citizenship. I believe most parents join a school community to be a part of a worthy cause but also to be a part of their children's lives. Many parents come to a better understanding of how children think and learn through their membership.

A Parent's View of Parent Partnership and Community (Source: Capture Your Flag)

Which of the following reasons best describes your reason for joining a school community? Please list "Other" choices with your comment.

See results

A school community is a worthwhile pursuit and one that only adds to the quality education of children. There are many national parent organizations and local school partnerships out there that prove to be exceptional in providing a child with a launching pad to leadership in his or her community. The content of this series merely suggests successful methods that may help with the start-up of a school community. Part Two of this series will cover the committee purpose and activities and the support to administration, teachers and children.

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    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      This is a well-needed article. I volunteered to be on a school council committee. We are always looking for ways to draw the community together.

      Last night I received a phone call from the automated recordings. The board of ed is having a meeting from 3 to 4 on a very important topic. The problem is the schools get out at 3:30. It seems like some of the people in the highest positions of schools have no clue when it comes to communication or trying to be accommodating to parents. So the parents aren't heard. It almost seems like it's done on purpose.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello BJC. It always helps children to acquire quality education when the school and parents work together to build a community. This will help to ensure the programs are varied and provide interests to all students. Thanks for your visit and support. Take care.

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 5 years ago from Florida

      Informative hub - building relationships with people in the community is very important. Every parent/guardian deserves the opportunity to be involved. The teachers and parents need to develop a good relationship and come to an agreement so the child can benefit.

      Thanks for the reminder.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I so agree with your thoughts, Whonunuwho. Some schools do require parents to contribute a certain number of hours to the school community, and I think this does help to provide a better environment for learning. So glad you are one of the 20% who keeps the school programs active for children. Be well and safe.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello dmop! It is quite hard to work with children at home and also to be part of a bigger network at school. You do what you can, but I'm sure they would appreciate any help you could spare. Blessings.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Community is even more important to today's school children. The cuts in budget have cut out extras such as sports, drama and music. A good community will fill this gap and provide much needed interest for children. Christy, I so appreciate your visits and faithful support of the hubs. You have a great evening!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 5 years ago from United States

      As a teacher of twenty-five years, I have seen the benefits of community involvement in educating children. I believe that until parents are held responsible for their children's education, as much as teachers, and they are required to attend meetings, such as PTA, there can be no real community involvement.I have tried to be positive and gone along with the usual schedules of systems that I have taught in, however some were seriously lacking. Perhaps a phone call, instead of a note sent home with a child is better communicating. The department of Human Resources in many states are very strict on parent involvement with their children's welfare, yet, in the schools, the parents are often disregarded and there is a serious lack of proper communication and involvement by all concerned parties.There simply has to be more shared participation in order to accomplish needed benefits for our school children everywhere.

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 5 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      Great ideas to get more parents involved in the education of their children. I admit that I'm guilty of not being very active in the school community. I am very active at home with homework and showing them the importance I place on learning, but I could do more. Voted up, and useful.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Community involvement really is important for all involved: the parents, children and teachers. You give such useful advice in your hubs, I vote up.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Jools99, you are so on target, most of the school programs, as in any work place, are run by 20% of the population. However, with these core people you can draw others in to help grow the quality of the activities and learning experience. Thanks for your add on to the hub and so grateful for your visit. Take care.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      I work in a school Teaches12345 and I agree wholeheartedly with your ideas to build a strong school community though I think for school leaders, it is sometimes difficult to get everybody on board when teachers have other pressures. I think the biggest issue for schools is engagement with 'hard to reach' parents - those who you know will never come to a meeting; these are usually the parents whose children need the most support. I suppose as a school leader, you can only do so much, short of knocking on parents' doors, which we do in the Early Years phase but no school can keep that up.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Organization is the key to a successful meeting of any kind. True, many people wonder why their meetings are so poorly attended when they only gave a two day notice. Thanks for the visit and the supportive comment. Blessings!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hi teaches - I no longer have children in school, but I remember those days well. The best PTA leaders and teachers certainly followed some of your guidelines. But you have laid out the steps in the process in such an organized and well-structured approach. Very useful and very impressive.

      At a college now, I am always appalled when someone throws up a flyer or two the day before an event or committee meeting...and that is all they do. Then they are frustrated because their is little interest and few attendees. Excellent hub.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Good to hear such support and agreement, Billybuc. Yes, it works and schools who value community have the best programs and educational curriculum.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      All excellent suggestions and I can verify that they do work. I was lucky enough to teach in schools with an excellent community that worked together for one common goal: the betterment of education for the kids. Great hub!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      That is a shame and I am also sorry administration does not see the need. The children would have benefited from the experience. Don't give up trying. Perhaps you could get some parents to write a letter or request a meeting to discuss the need with the administration.

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Teaches12345, I love your tips on seeking a school's community, and I wish that teachers could read this hub. Unfortunately, public school teachers and administrators may have a different agenda. Last year, I worked so hard to convince the school that the gifted students should have at least one field trip per year like other schools. The principal who offered free buses said it had to be after the California State Standardize testing in May. The GATE coordinator delayed signing up until the dates were at the end of the year. The 5th grade teachers said that there was too much for 5th grades to spare at the end of the year before their culmination. The gifted 5th graders did not have a single experience due to their GATE identification in their entire time at this elementary school.

      Voted up and useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      You understand the concept of the partnership of meeting the needs of the child. Schools can establish school communities to enhance school activities (yes, where budgets have had to cut back). I am posting Part II later this week on committee formation and their purpose. I appreciate and value your comments and vote of support!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      What an excellent idea for getting people involved in the school. I think a strong community involvement is one way to make up for the frequent budget cuts that schools seem to be suffering nowadays. Voting this Up and Useful.