School and Community Partnerships
A modern version of a village raising a child
The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is thought to have origins in Africa. An ancient proverb, it is accepted to mean that extended family as well as the larger community are responsible for helping raise a child. At the heart of this saying is a value for relationships, unity, concern, and support for others.
What does this mean in the context of schools and education?
It is well documented that when families are involved in a child’s education, the chances of success are greatly increased. Maybe not so well known is that when communities are involved in education, the impact is even more far reaching. It is a two way relationship that benefits everyone. When students become involved in their community, they are provided with rich learning experiences that cannot be replicated in other ways. Field trips to zoos, museums, plays, and concerts take things from the pages of books and allow them to become first-hand experiences. Through school projects students can learn to care for and be responsible for their communities. Group projects such as cleaning parks, painting murals on tolerance, and poster campaigns against bully not only foster a sense of unity but instill a sense of pride and ownership in our community. An amazing example of this idea in action is the campaign for a new school waged by Chicago school children featured in the book Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons from an Urban Classroom by Brian D. Schultz. This class worked together and against all odds created a better future for themselves and their community.
Everyone wants to feel like they belong and when we work together and support one another relationships are created. In the relationship between schools and communities, families serve a twofold purpose. Not only are they the decisive force behind a child’s academic success but they are also a huge community resource. We are lucky that our schools are located in communities filled with such richly diverse populations. Parents, guardians, and extended families can share their culture, vocations, and community involvement with classes. Lessons can include understanding why these topics are so important and help students develop a concern about them. Students can analyze, question, and learn to critique the world around them and in the process discover many things about themselves, each other and our community. The National PTA has wonderful resources on how families and schools can work together. One example is the “Take your Family to School Week” which is currently under way.
The larger community is a valuable resource too. Individuals and organizations can not only provide time, equipment, and monetary assistance but they can offer valuable learning experiences as well. Political officials and public servants such as police men and fire fighters can speak with students about what they do, offer safety tips, and other helpful information. Businesses, volunteers, and professionals can act as mentors for students and provide valuable information regarding community resources that can benefit families.
Relationships are vital to the health and success of any community. Partnerships between schools, families, and communities improve academic achievement as well as have a positive impact on social development. It is important for students to feel as though they are an integral part of the community both in and outside our classrooms. Through these experiences our children will become equipped to make our community and world a better place. It really does take a village to raise a child.
Hall, G.E., Quinn, L.F. & Gollnick, D. M. (2014) An Introduction to Teaching: Making a Difference in Student Learning. Los Angeles/London/New Delhi/Singapore/Washington DC: MA: Sage Publications.
Healy, J.G. African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories. (1988). African Proverb of the Month: It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child. Retrieved from http://www.afriprov.org/african-proverb-of-the-month/23-1998proverbs/137-november-1998-proverb.html.
National PTA, Every Child. One Voice. (2016). Take Your Family to School Week. Retrieved from http://www.pta.org/programs/programstyftsw.cfm?ItemNumber=3262&navItemNumber=3986.
Schultz, B. D. (2008). Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons from an Urban Classroom. Columbia University: Teachers College.
US Navy Community Service Project
National PTA's Take Your Family to School Week — February 15-19, 2016
EIGHTH GRADE STUDENTS PICKING UP TRASH ON BEACH