A Question of Balance III

100619_142247_0.pngA Question of Balance III -

The New Classroom will seek out opportunities to involve the school with the community.  These opportunities come in multiple forms, but are divided into two fundamental categories - when the school goes out into the community, and when the community comes into the school.

Taking the school out into the community might be a daunting task, but well worth the effort.  Students can be involved individually or as a group, and teachers might consider either research or service projects.  A research project might involve voter opinion gathering and writing for the school newspaper - or it might involve all kinds of research on local ecology - or it might involve research on segments of the community.  There's a plethora of opportunities here.

At the same time, so many opportunities exist for service projects that the list seems endless. Whether students are cleaning the beach on weekends, or reading to toddlers after school, or delivering meals to the homebound, the role of community service is far too often ignored.  A most important benefit of community service is to provide practical application of lessons learned in school, but more importantly to provide a connection for students between school and community.

One of the best projects I've undertaken as a teacher was helping a group of secondary students sponsor a penny carnival for the local elementary schools in the district in which I worked.   The high school students spent months preparing games, getting approvals, and soliciting sponsorships.  The elementary students enjoyed the penny carnival immensely - and the high school students raised considerable funds. But what happened next was the real lesson - the high school students turned the funds into a community grant program, establishing parameters and formats for grant requests.  After considering several local proposals, they decide to open an after school program for latchkey students in a local church for students in grades 1-6.  The site was centrally located so that any student could attend.

This is the kind of community involvement where students can give back to the community.  This project has always been a hallmark in what can happen when members of The New Classroom work together.

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