5 Ideas for Building School-Community Engagement

Getting students involved with the community is a wonderful strategy for boosting academic success, teaching students about the world of work, and improving positive behaviors. Building community involvement through the school can take many forms, both student-led and community leader-led. In this post, I’ll discuss 5 ways to get your students involved with community members to build a stronger bond between your school and the surrounding community!

1. Community Mentors: 

Create a mentorship program between community members and students. You can focus on at-risk students or expand the program to as many students as you think could benefit. On a designated day during the week, students can meet with their mentors in the first 20-25 minutes after students arrive in the morning. They can meet in the library to read a book or play a board game, in the gym to shoot baskets, in the school garden to water plants, or even in the hallway for a walk. Invite community leaders, business owners, grandparents, parents of teenagers, or even high school students to apply to be a mentor. Encourage the mentors to not only learn about the students’ lives but to share about their own experiences as students and what they do now as adults. Having that regular, dependable meeting can reinforce to students that they matter to someone and have a positive academic and behavioral impact

2. Interns for a Day: 

Think of this program like a field trip. Find local businesses that are willing to accept students as interns for a day. If you are within walking distance of several businesses, this may be more manageable as you can split students up between businesses (this will require more parent volunteers!). If transportation is necessary, find a large business, such as a grocery store, that would be willing to accept one class of students. The students can perform tasks such as stocking low shelves, bagging groceries, and pricing items to get a better understanding of how the business works. If you are working with upper grades students who can provide their own transportation, there are endless possibilities within the community for one-day or longer internships with community members. Exposing students to community businesses and community members’ roles can expand their worldview and plant seeds for college and career dreams!

3. Class Grandparent: 

Many teachers have already employed the strategy of having a classroom “foster grandparent.” Creating this program within your school gets older community members involved in the lives of students, which can be a mutually beneficial relationship! Class grandparents can read to students, spend extra time focusing on specific skills, or simply listen and be present. You might even find someone who is willing to be the counseling foster grandparent and help out with classroom guidance lessons!

4. Adopt a Group: 

As a class, small group, or club, have students choose a group or organization to “adopt.” Students could choose a local nursing home or hospital and complete service projects or simple kind acts throughout the year to support the group. For example, if your students chose to adopt a local pediatric hospital, they could write encouraging notes to the patients, collect gently used toys to donate, write a class joke book, and more to support the organization throughout the year. Plan a field trip to visit the organization at least once if possible! Allowing the students to see the people they are supporting and learn more about the environment and events can fuel their desire to help out throughout the year.

5. Community Improvement: 

Allow students to choose a long-term community service project that they believe will make their community a better place. The goal of this project is for students to lead the way in order for them to grasp the idea that they are already community members who can make a difference. You can read more about my 8-step vision for these types of projects on Confident Counselors by clicking the picture below.

 8 Steps to Build Student-Led School-Community Engagement
How do you get your students engaged with the community? What programs have been successful for your school?
  

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