Schools at the Center of Our Communities

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Schools are a large, central, and stable entity in all communities and provide a unifying, preexisting structure with mission values that embrace civic engagement. They are also the most powerful, central location for managing checklists of projects through which our civic activities can circulate. Schools naturally provide the vehicle for widespread communication within and between communities nationwide as well as globally—everyone easily gets on the same page. Our children and their educators can learn the best current practices along with the identification of new needs and solutions through school assemblies; this will allow them to continue expanding the model and unite us nationwide as Americans.

Placing our children at the center of managing community needs and solutions honors their education and capacity for contribution. Through real-life engagements and active participation with us, our children find relevance in their education and purposeful connections in their communities. Students see how their work fits into a larger national or global perspective and come to understand needs, but more important, to generate solutions. They experience the value of organization, contribution, and ongoing assessment of community needs as they join with their peers nationwide to share in solutions and outcomes.

Students also find value in their presence in the community when organizations come to them with needs and when community members come to them for information or with donations or to offer to volunteer.

Teachers experience increased student motivation and engagement in the classroom and find multiple leadership and learning experiences provided by the initiative. They get inspiration from the impact of their work with students in the community, and they become able to share in common work and outcomes with teachers nationwide, broadening their contributions to society.

Parents find channels of community service engagement with their children throughout the K–12 experience. They become educated about solutions for community needs through their children, who eventually become adults educated in this way, bringing further support to the next generation’s contributions.

Community members have a central location for a well-organized overview of community needs and how they can be met. The impact of their contributions deepens as it passes through the awareness—the hands, hearts, and minds—of our youth. Community members find tangible evidence of the ability of the next generation to make a difference in the world, and this can create intergenerational bonds, with the next generation at the helm.

When businesses have access to a community checklist of projects, they find opportunities to give back to the community. What better way for businesses to market themselves than through giving back, coming directly to schools to see how they can contribute instead of waiting for solicitations for help. Interaction with businesses in this context expands real-world interactions for students and offers best practices to the next generation.

Community-based organizations benefit from a central informational location that creates ongoing awareness of needs. A central location provides them with a way to communicate needs, coordinate pickup of supplies or funds, share volunteer needs, and educate the community about the work of their organizations. Community-based organizations would also be able to find solutions from other parts of the United States and be uplifted by the flow of ongoing, dependable support.

With schools at the center of our communities, community members encounter verifiable evidence that our children are learning and becoming capable, contributing citizens. Youth are stimulated to learn by doing real-world work. Adults are inspired to consider the overall health of their communities and how they can contribute as they become directly involved with the learning of youth in their communities.

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Questions? E-mail the author at sandymckane [at] gmail [dot] com.
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