A school may provide the place and resources for a basic education, but the school’s engagement with the community can greatly enhance and deepen learning for children who attend.
As the cohesive force connecting students, teachers, parents and community resources, principals play a key role in providing the best possible education for students. The scope of the principal’s role includes areas as varied as school laws and compliance with state and district standards, curriculum implementation, and community involvement.
Public libraries benefit students of all ages. They help level the playing field by providing disadvantaged students with access to books and other resources that would otherwise be unavailable to them.
Cross promotion between libraries and schools help get the word out to students and families. Both assigned reading and leisure reading help students grow as learners. The American Library Association has designed many school/public library cooperative programs.
When schools partner with businesses, great things happen. Beyond the more obvious channels of financial contributions and volunteer hours, businesses can offer other benefits to schools in the community. Providing pro bono guest speakers for school events, giving students opportunities for job shadowing, hosting school fairs and providing internships are other ways for businesses to get involved. An advisory board that includes students, parents, teachers, principals and community partners can oversee the scheduling and goals for these initiatives.
Communication is essential for school-business partnerships to succeed. When matching businesses with schools, it can be helpful to have similar core values or parallel missions, for instance.
Partnerships with local businesses can be initiated by word of mouth, via parents who work for local businesses, and through the Chamber of Commerce.
It should come as no surprise that increased parental involvement correlates with greater student success. Some schools in the U.S. have developed family engagement programs to educate parents in this matter.
The goal is for parents to truly engage in the learning process and a school’s culture. Engagement goes beyond involvement. Parents who feel encouraged to contribute to learning and school culture (engagement) bring more to the table, and ultimately to their children’s success as students, than parents who are merely told what to do (involvement).
The primary role of teachers is to interact with students. But when they go the extra mile by reaching out, not only to the principal but also to parents, everyone benefits. In forging these connections, they create a support system for students that helps maximize learning and success.