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How Educational Leadership Can Foster Positive School-Community Relations

A student’s educational journey doesn’t stop when they leave their classroom for the day. Their experience at an after-school program or a community organization’s event also contributes to their learning and overall well-being.

This reality has driven many education leaders to form strong partnerships with nonprofit organizations and faith-based groups that offer services to students and families outside of the school day. As part of the Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) online Master of Science (M.S.) in Educational Administration program, educators learn how to identify opportunities for collaboration and sustain relationships with community partners, ranging from local organizations to large corporations.

Path to Building Productive School-Community Partnerships

Before embarking on ambitious partnerships, educational leaders must take a crucial first step and conduct a “community resource audit.” Under this model, staff members create an inventory of local businesses, nonprofits, neighborhood groups, after-school programs and libraries in the school district or the area directly around a school campus, according to education nonprofit New Leaders. At the same time, staff should identify the needs of a school or district that existing programs or curricula can’t quickly resolve.

The result of this audit will look different for every community. One school might desire to create a program for parents seeking to learn English. Another campus could explore the possibility of creating a financial literacy course with the help of a local bank. Administrators should have in-depth conversations with potential partners about how to make a program mutually beneficial.

Once education leaders identify a potential partner, the Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education suggests starting small rather than trying to launch a large and complex program. The first goal should be to serve constituents who could benefit most from the initiative and then expand to larger programs and events that can include more community members.

Perhaps most importantly, administrators should ensure that there are measurable outcomes to evaluate the program’s success. If a principal wants to launch an after-school program on campus, they should share clear expectations from the start, according to the 50 State Afterschool Network. Their vision could include offering activities to students that support curricula already being taught in the classroom. Regardless of the concept, program coordinators must be informed to deliver on those goals.

Benefits of Relationships Between School and Community

Beyond augmenting what students are learning in schools, partnerships between schools and communities can offer a wide variety of other services to families and community organizations themselves. For students who struggle in the classroom, after-school programs offer a chance to extend their learning in different settings and activities that may suit their learning style, according to education research and strategy consultant Priscilla Little. Those activities can include more arts and enrichment activities than teachers have the capacity to offer during the school day.

Students have expanded mentorship opportunities, with program leaders able to guide their learning experiences and support their transition as they advance in school years and maturity. In addition to reinforcing curriculum concepts through other teaching methods, partnerships also improve the school’s community image, especially when the programs highlight student work in public exhibitions and events.

Community partners also benefit from gaining access to new clients in the form of students and their families. This way, they can make their own programming more responsive to the needs of the people seeking their services, Little notes. Perhaps most significantly, partnerships can close the gap between a community organization’s beliefs of how schools and administrators make decisions and how the process actually works. Their fruitful experience with students will create a broader understanding of the district’s priorities within the community.

Develop Community Relations Skills With TAMIU

Students in TAMIU’s online M.S. in Educational Administration program explore how to effectively communicate with various partners, including parents, community agencies, special interest groups, media, policymakers and business leaders. Graduates will learn the tools they need to establish and maintain these relationships without losing sight of their central goal: student achievement.

Learn more about TAMIU’s online Master of Science in Educational Administration program.

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