Alma Guzman, Principal of McCoy Elementary of Georgetown ISD, recently attended a Harvard summer leadership institute through the Raise Your Hand Texas Leadership Program. One of her key takeaways from the program is how community involvement in public education is critical to the success of students. In our latest blog post, Alma explains how individuals and organizations can become involved with their local public schools and how local schools benefit from their involvement.
Community Participation is Critical
It is important for community members to become involved with their local school to see all the great things happening for children and to find ways in which they can participate. Schools are providing quality educational experiences, social services, character building activities and so much more with limited resources. Community members are able to serve as role models, volunteers, guest presenters and advocates for local schools. They are also able to help link area resources to support school efforts, which aim to increase student performance and engagement. Public schools need this type of community involvement to maximize quality learning opportunities for all students.
Individuals Can Make a Difference
There are endless possibilities for community members to become involved in local schools. Individuals may provide one-time or on-going support to schools. We strive to match the support activity to the availability and skill set of the volunteer. For example, we provide several ways for individuals to volunteer or mentor at McCoy Elementary. An individual may choose to serve as a mentor to one child, or choose to “adopt” an entire classroom. Classroom helpers work with the teacher to support the class in a variety of ways to fit classroom needs.
Additionally, we often tap professionals for special units of study on a specific topic. We had a retired geologist offer to speak with the children and share his collection of rocks and fossils. He was a big hit! Those are win-win situations because the school benefits from their knowledge and the community members get to interact with teachers and students in meaningful ways.
There is Opportunity For Businesses and Organizations to Get Involved
There are many opportunities for organizations and businesses to get involved with their local schools. As schools strive to bring engaging, relevant learning opportunities into the classroom, it is an asset to have community members willing to share their expertise and passion with students. We don’t always know what kind of talent is available so I would encourage community members to contact their local school and let them know what you are willing and able to do for the school. I often hear community members say they would have done more sooner had they known we could benefit from their help.
When community organizations or individuals contact our school, we try to match them up with something the school has identified as an area of need. We try to fit every organization into some niche that matches their area of interest and an area of need. The variety of talent and experience that exists in a community is a huge, often untapped resource that will enhance and maximize a school’s efforts to reach all students.
Local Public School Benefit Exponentially
Healthy communities have healthy schools, and one way to strengthen public schools is to bring parents and community members into the daily conversation. Schools benefit in so many ways when community members become involved in our efforts to produce an educated, socially conscious and contributing workforce for the future. As a school administrator, I appreciate the insight I gain from speaking with local businesses and community leaders. I learn about new resources available and ways they can help my school. In turn, they learn about what school’s require of today’s students and the challenges we face in achieving rigorous learning standards, while also addressing health, hygiene and social/emotional concerns. It truly takes the whole village to raise a child. Now, more than ever, we need to join hands and form a strong circle of support around our children.
– Alma Guzman, Principal of McCoy Elementary School