IMPROVING SCHOOL-COMMUNITY RELATIONS
H. Jurgen Combs

There are a variety of activities in which schools can become involved to help improve school-community relations; below are some suggestions:
  1. Encourage community use of school facilities - - often the school building sits empty after the end of the normal school day. Encouraging non-profit community groups to use the facilities is not only a good use of resources but also provides an opportunity for the school to put its best foot forward. Some schools have reported a reduction in vandalism because of the various activities.
  2. Develop an effective school use policy - - many schools already have a custodian on duty at night and the small amount of time that is spent opening the facility is more than offset by the goodwill created.
 
  1. Student Recognition - - invite students who earned a place on the honor roll to an Honors Banquet; the banquet can be held at a local restaurant during school hours or in the evening. In many communities, restaurants may be willing to support a program of this nature by providing meals at cost or even at reduced prices. Invite prominent people to speak at the banquet - educational leaders, political leaders, business people; the list can be endless.
  2. Gold cards - - give students who earn a place on the Honor Roll a Gold Card which is honored by participating businesses who provide discounts to students for the marking period. Some businesses provide reduced prices on items in their stores while others allow students to have something for free, i.e., a free video rental.
  3. Honor Society - - make a determined effort to share the recognition of students by honoring them during the school day, with other students in attendance. Most parents are more than willing to come in during the day to participate in the ceremony. If it is not possible to have the ceremony during the day, have it in the evening but be sure to invite faculty, staff and students to attend.
  4. Honors Passes - - students who earn a place on the Honor Roll could receive an Honors Pass which allows them certain freedom of movement in the building. A list of guidelines can be developed and students can be asked to sign agreements to abide by these guidelines. We want to send the message that the students on the honor roll have demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and have shown a maturity of judgment and an acceptance of responsibility that entitle them to more rights and privileges.
  5. Senior Citizens Banquet - - at least once a year, perhaps around the time of a music concert, invite senior citizens to a luncheon banquet at the school; the banquet, run with the cooperation of the school lunch program, can be sponsored by a class, by a school service organization, or by the entire school, if it is small one. Parents have been very willing to come in to assist in the preparation of the meal. Prior to the banquet, invite the senior citizens to a dress rehearsal of the musical program, since many senior citizens are reluctant to attend programs in the evening.
  6. Senior Citizens Passes - - provide passes to area senior citizens to attend all school functions at no charge; while some will provide a donation in exchange for the ticket, many will appreciate the extra welcome provided by the school.
  7. Back to School Week - - choose a week during the school year to invite parents and community members to your school. Businesses have been more and more willing to provide release time to their employees for activities of this nature. Make a special effort to personally invite community and business leaders to attend school for the day, or part of the day.
  8. Honors Assemblies - - at the end of each marking period, hold an honors assembly at which students on the honor roll receive certificates, bumper stickers and gold cards for having earned a place on the Honor Roll.
  9. Student Recognition - - if a student performs exceptionally well, why not recognize that achievement? A short note from an administrator, mailed to the student, provides a significant boost in morale for the student.
  10. Career Day - - hold annual career days; not only is this a good educational experience for the students, it helps local business people learn more about the school and our needs; conversely, it helps us understand the employment needs of business in our area.
  11. News releases - - news releases mailed to local media can be helpful; publish things such as honor rolls, special class projects or activities, assemblies, school activities, etc.
  12. Newsletters - - provide periodic newsletters not only to the families of students but also to board members, business leaders, and other community members. A simple database can be used to include new people; encourage members of the school community so suggest other folks who might be included in the mailing list.
  13. Honor Roll - - publish a list of students who earn a place on the Honor Roll in the local media; teachers and administrators should be encouraged to write letters to the students, recognizing the significant accomplishment of the young person. Using a database makes this task easier and also allows administrators to write special letters to those students whose averages increased significantly during the quarter.
  14. Positive Reinforcement - - faculty members should be encouraged to contact the families of students by phone or letter when the youngster has shown significant improvement or demonstrated positive qualities of behavior. Administrators can also increase rapport with parents by contacting them when the youngster has done something well.

 

If you have additional suggestions for improving school-community relations please send them to me for inclusion in this web page - many thanks for your contributions!

hjcombs@<REMOVETHECAPITALLETTERS>edulink.org
last updated on 25 July 2008
H. Jurgen Combs