It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child, which means the residents of your community are just as crucial to helping your students achieve their academic and personal development goals as nearly any other members of your administration. Obtain community support and show your neighbors why they should be invested in the future of the students in your district by reaching out to showcase your students’ accomplishments, and reminding them that they are an essential part of your school. Not sure where to begin? Here are four easy ways to get started.
- Build a Mentorship Program. Talk to your administration about establishing a community mentorship program. Whether the focus is on at-risk students or your entire student body, there are many positive and impactful lessons that students can learn from adults outside of their immediate family or school. Intergenerational programs, such as an adopt-a-grandparent program offer mutual benefits for both parties and can keep the older adults in your community feeling young, valued, and engaged with their next generation of community leaders.
- Bring in Guest Speakers. A critical part of adolescent development is starting to consider future career goals. All age groups can benefit from guest speakers, whether they are parents or community leaders, to share information about their career path and the role they play in the community. Consider inviting members of your community who serve such functions as police officers, firefighters, doctors, business owners, restaurant managers, carpenters, auto mechanics, journalists, and beauticians to speak to your class. A wide variety of career representatives will help inspire a broad population of students with different interests and will allow you to engage various local leaders.
- Ask Residents to Write Letters to Students. Send letters to homes near your school district or stuff flyers in mailboxes asking for inspiring letters to students. A particularly impactful tactic for graduating high school seniors, the letters can take any form, from best wishes for the future to advice from an older and wiser adult, to reminders about summer safety. The request will demonstrate to residents that you, your administrators, and your students, value their advice and insights.
- Create a Community Art Project for Students. Your community will appreciate and value the students in your school if they see the students making a positive impact in the neighborhood. Create an Earth Day clean-up event, plant a community food garden, build a Little Free Library, or create a summer outdoor mural art project, or some other opportunity for students to make the area in which they live better, brighter, cleaner, and more unique. Invite nearby neighbors to take part. Better yet, make it a recurring event that everyone will look forward to annually.
Someday, when your students reflect on their school days, you will want them to remember more than the lessons they learned in the classroom. You will want them to look back fondly on the place they called home and the community that supported their development and adolescence. Establishing powerful practices that bridge the gap between students and the community will help to form those bonded memories and motivate your students to give back to future generations in their adulthood too.