By Thomas Courtney, EdSource, May 3, 2021
If you asked me two years ago which student owned a guinea pig named Max or eight dogs, I am certain I could not have told you. But now I can. It’s strange to be in a position where we see so much of our students’ lives through a computer screen, and yet also feel so disconnected from the students and the families we serve. Now, as schools and their communities seek to re-establish these relationships, state and district leaders are considering how to spend tax dollars for this very purpose. How can we best do it?
Years ago, I was a part of a faculty that needed to re-establish ties with our community. Here at Chollas-Mead Elementary, a Title 1 school where 93% of our students are considered economically disadvantaged, we decided to create ties that were — in a word — fun. In doing so, Chollas-Mead went from empty open houses to packed celebrations of all kinds, and many of our teachers have become both teacher and school parent, me included. The lessons we learned then can help any school in California now figure out how to spend money in ways that work to reconnect schools with their communities.
How did we connect? For me, it started with a plate of potato salad the summer my own child was about to begin kindergarten.