This activity was depressing for me to have to actually sit down and admit that my school has very little community support in an area surrounded by schools that have great school/community relationships. This disparity in magnified when I attend functions in town where my children attend school. I’ve begun my 21st year teaching in my current (and only) school district and have been witness to the decline of a good school district.
In the past we’ve had community partnerships and well-attended, well-supported extracurricular programs that are no longer vibrant. We have also had a parent volunteer program in the past called VIP. That program was once very successful with many of the stay-at-home moms volunteering in the elementary school. This allowed for extra one-on-one interaction between adults and students with instructions from the teacher on which skills to practice. This program involved parents and community members who had the available time to work with students. This type of program is a win-win for all involved. My activity was created to re-invigorate the program and the volunteers by sending notes home, posting to the school website, Facebook and Twitter accounts and placing notices for help at the bank and post office in hope that this could lead to a robust program again. This would support student achievement by providing all of them with more individual assistance and immediate feedback.
I began this project by reviewing the previous program guidelines and getting feedback on whether or not we should keep them or begin our program with new guidelines. The elementary principal agreed that the extra one on one interaction with the students, as well as, the involvement of parents and the individualized help would improve reading scores.
There were a number of ELCC and SBEC skills and competencies that were considered while creating this activity. Among them were developing a school vision, promoting a positive school culture and collaboration between the school and the community. Also, the skills involving mobilizing resources, responding to diverse needs and advocating, nurturing and sustaining an instructional program conducive to student learning were also considered.
My activity involved our SBDM committee, the technology coordinator, elementary principal, elementary secretary, teachers and stakeholders. The timeline for implementation was from early September to the first week in October and consisted of gathering information, meeting with stakeholders, presenting the information in a well-advertised meeting and scheduling volunteers to begin helping students immediately.
The question was then raised whether or not parent volunteers must be fingerprinted due to the student contact. I place a call to TEA and was informed that parents did not need to be fingerprinted, but the school was required to run a background check on them.