Connecting with the Community OR Empowering the Community
The Whole Child Blog - 6/6/2011
During the inaugural Healthy School Communities Virtual Conference held May 10–13, what came across loud and clear by each of our mentor sites was the need to connect with their communities. However as the week drew on, what became even clearer was that these sites didn’t just connect with their communities; rather they sought to empower their communities. They brought them in, asked advice, listened, and distributed leadership and ownership, and were able to engage their community stakeholders in meaningful, purposeful activities. These sites were demonstrating how they were in fact moving along a continuum from community connection to community empowerment.
Parents are a vital part of this Iroquois Ridge school community … absolutely vital for a thriving community.
It’s not only a learning community for our children, but for our staff, our community, and our parents.
Let’s have these parents have a leadership role. Iroquois Ridge is founded on the principle of engagement so just as our youth are involved in school as decision makers and as participants in every program that happens, so we felt our parents could do the same.
By getting people in and seeing all the things that were happening in the school and after hours it really increased awareness of the high school and at the same time say we are part of this. … We’ve seen as much engagement within the personal physical commitment that we’ve seen in a long time. This is an event that could kind of jump start people.
The term community is especially important … getting various stakeholders from the community.
A structure was created that could sustain itself and so the first thing was creating this corporation council. And we did it by getting various stakeholders from the community; we have about 25 stakeholders on our council, including students. Its responsibility is monitoring and implementing the Healthy School Improvement Plan.
Part of our action was gathering our community partners. That phrase “healthy school community” meant we really needed to ask for the support in the context we were working with. We needed to work with the Community Hospital East, who hosts our in school clinic … Urban League who specifically addresses issues of race within our building … the Chamber of Commerce who now have graduation coach in our building … Shepherd Community Center who work with our homeless students. But we knew we had to pull all those partners into the mix to be successful.
We didn’t just go to the community, and we didn’t just start programs without having a firm plan underneath us.
Connect with the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge to find out more about what these sites did and share your thoughts.