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How Do Educational Leaders Engage and Collaborate With the Community?

While students spend most of their weekdays soaking up knowledge inside the classroom, they also require educational support as they interact with their broader community.

For children to thrive despite systemic challenges like poverty, neglect, and family conflict, they need the support of nonprofit leaders and business owners as well as educators.

Educational leaders play a key role in forging these partnerships and facilitating mentorship for young people. Graduates of Worcester State University’s online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Leadership and Administration program learn how to successfully create and lead initiatives alongside community members who support their school’s mission of serving students.

The Importance of Community Engagement in Education

Research studies have validated a reality that educators often already know: Student success begins with the family unit, which creates a structure for children to learn and grow. Administrators and teachers are responsible for clearly communicating how families can help their children improve in the classroom, according to the Brookings Institution. The more open dialogue between educators and parents, the more they will align on a shared sense of mission for the school.

A family’s passion for their child’s education is often the precursor to successful partnerships with nonprofit organizations and companies. Administrators who have built strong relationships with parent leaders can use those family connections to build a broader network of business and philanthropic contacts.

Before proposing any potential collaborations with outside organizations, educational leaders can create a directory of local businesses, nonprofits, neighborhood groups, or after-school programs near the school campus. After that research, administrators can create community partnership teams of staff, teachers, and parent volunteers to begin in-person meetings to explore where the school’s mission and the organization’s goals overlap.

Educators and their supporters should focus on laying a foundation for clear lines of communication between school leaders and community members with strong connections to families in the community. When the school faces challenges later, these groups will be more willing to lend a hand.

Building Strong Community Partnerships

Educators who have created successful programs and events with community organizations urge schools to start small. If the long-term vision is an after-school program providing students with structured arts and music activities, school leaders should propose a test program to figure out if the collaboration can be successful with a larger student population. Working through the challenges of securing space, volunteers, participants, and materials for a single event will show both sides of the partnership if the program is sustainable and scalable.

In-person events are particularly effective at demonstrating how community engagement can positively impact students and their families. Many campuses begin with smaller, targeted events that excite students about their career ambitions. Cajon Valley Union School District in southern California invited business and community leaders to speak about their career paths and introduce K-12 students to the World of Work.

Over time, the district expanded the program to include tours of community businesses and opportunities for high school students to earn post-secondary certification in career fields near their campus. The World of Work initiative allows students to explore their ambitions while connecting local employers with their future talent.

Successful collaborations like Cajon Valley’s don’t start overnight. Educational leaders must make themselves visible and accessible in the community and spend quality time with community leaders and the family populations they serve. Keeping an eye on family needs will guide administrators toward the organizations most capable of providing resources to students.

Develop Family and Community Engagement Skills With Worcester State University

As part of Worcester State University’s online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Administration program, students complete the Family and Community Engagement course to learn how to effectively improve student outcomes through collaboration with diverse community members, business partners, and family volunteers. The program prepares educators to confidently forge productive alliances as they take the next step forward in their careers.

Learn more about Worcester State University’s online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Administration program.

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