By Shawn Duncan
Here in Atlanta, it’s already time to for kids to start packing their backpacks and heading back to school! As we take those first day of school photos, we are thankful for the vital role schools play in our communities. They provide stability, opportunity, and education to families and students in our neighborhood.
Neighbors, community members, ministry leaders, or workplaces are often looking for ways to support their local schools in these hectic months heading back to school. You may want to help, too!
As a dad, ministry leader, and former member of both the Family Engagement Parent Advisory Council and the Interfaith Leaders Coalition for the Dekalb County School District, I’m an advocate for the important partnerships schools and communities can form.
Here are five tips to get you started on getting involved with your local schools.
Donate Supplies - Teachers often end up spending money out of pocket on school supplies and classroom needs. Ask a local teacher or principal for a list of needed supplies, then invite your neighbors, members of your Bible Study, or co-workers to chip in to fill in the gaps of the school’s needs.
Appreciate Teachers and Staff - Take time to recognize the important work of your neighborhood teachers and staff. Consider bringing fresh fruit or gift cards into the staff room. A handwritten note of kind words will go a long way to uplift and encourage those who serve your neighborhood kids.
Show Up and Support - Attend Friday night football games to cheer on your local team or listen to your young neighbors at the school band concert. Both students and teachers appreciate a full, supportive audience to see the results of their hard work.
Pray for Schools - Take the time to pray for your local schools. Pray these places would be a source of positive influence for students in your neighborhood. Consider regularly joining with others in prayer for schools that contribute to the fabric of your community and equip children to achieve and thrive.
Form a Long Term Partnership - If you have the time and commitment, a great way to make an impact is to be consistent and form a long term partnership. Pay attention to what the school needs and be flexible and willing to help. You can read more on setting up a long term partnership here.
Bonus Tip! Remember Your Role - As a community member, your role is to support the priorities of the school, rather than set your own agenda. Make sure the school, administration, teachers, students, and families take center stage. Your relationship with the school will deepen as you uplift their story and give them the credit for their investment and hard work.
I hope these tips will help you find a place to start. And remember, you’re not alone! It’s likely others will want to join you in nurturing your local schools. You can invite your neighbors, friends, co-workers, or Bible Study to join you in supporting schools in your community this year.
As we head back to school, let’s work together uplift our community’s education. We can’t wait to see how communities all across the country support their local schools!