Are you a School-Community Connector?

One of the more important contributions a person can make to his or her community is to get involved with the local public school.  Public policymakers are finally realizing that there is a strong relationship between economic development and the overall success of communities.  Nevertheless, it should be obvious by now that it takes more than just funding and government programs to create really good schools.  There are critical roles for parents, educators, business, and the community at large.  It also takes persons who are known as school-community connectors.

A school-community connector is “a person whose job it is to find and build relationships with a wide range of neighborhood ―assets‘ -residents, voluntary associations, local institutions, businesses- and then to connect them to the neighborhood school and its assets -teachers, students, space, equipment, just to name a few.” according to a recently released report from the Asset Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University (see link below).

The report cites the experience of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, which undertook a project it labeled Ivolving All Neighbors.  The project resulted in a good job description, so to speak.  The project found that School-Community Connectors tend to have the following attributes or characteristics:

Strongly believes that every person belongs and has contributions to make and gifts to give to the community;

Works to build community in his or her life;

Is always on the lookout for what‘s happening in the neighborhood and knows its places, events, groups and people;

Looks for opportunities for people to connect with others and contribute their skills;

Enjoys meeting people and bringing together people with common interests;

Gets involved and asks others to get involved;

Enjoys challenges and doesn‘t give up;

Stays flexible, adjusts expectations, and knows that things take time;

Focuses on one person at a time and considers how that person‘s interests and skills can be assets for the community;

Finds ways for others in the community to sustain new connections;

Finds ways to take care of and renew him- or herself;

Believes that anything is possible.

If you would like to learn more about school-community partnerships in Mississippi contact the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education.

Building Mutually-Beneficial Relationship Between Schools and Communities – The Role of A Connector, published by the Asset Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University

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