Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Building Community Partnerships
The owner of a couple of businesses in the community made t-shirts for the students in my Book Club to wear. The students were ecstatic to receive the shirt! So was I. Ha! This was a great way to show the students that someone was watching them and seeing the great books they were reading. It was a celebration of reading and being a part of a group.
After reading an article about my (Half) Hour of Code club an education profession from Stephen F. Austin State University contacted me. You can read about it here and here. Through this contact we have partnered on some future projects for my school.
The Nacogdoches Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. adopted out school last year. They occasionally served our faculty and staff breakfast or lunch. They give us small gifts like a coffee mug, they set up the Polar Express experience in the library and volunteer for different activities we do at school. The next service project we are working on together is a book drive for St. Jude's Superheroes. Students are being asked to donate a new book no more than $5.00. This is a great way to get our students to give back.
Here's my thing... I sat in my library and waited for the community to contact me. In my 4 years as a librarian and 11 years as teacher of the Deaf this is the first time I've worked with the community. That's a long time. Too long really.
My goal for next school year is to reach out to the community and find partnerships myself. In doing this I'm not only asking myself what they can do for me but what can we do for them. A partnership has to be a give and take. Let's be honest, schools are great at taking. Taking monetary donations, item donations, food donations, school supply donations, uniform donations, coupons to restaurants etc. But what are we doing for them? Yes, we are educating children and yes, that really is enough. BUT what are we teaching our students? Are we teaching them to take, take, take? How can we use these partnerships to teach our students to also be givers?
I'm still working on answering these questions myself.
With the business that gave us the t-shirts, they served us. We did not provide a service for them. I did post on our school's Facebook page and on our school's website about the donation so that they received some free advertisement. I did have my students write Thank You notes, I wrote one myself and included a picture of us in the shirts but really we didn't do anything for the business.
My partnership with the professor at the University is a bit different. The professor is providing us with future teachers to work on different projects and she's actually coming up with the project ideas and proposals (I hope to start doing that too). But we are so providing the students, the space, and the time. We are working together to build a strong learning environment. One of our future projects includes the community around our school too.
This is the first time we are partnering with Delta Sigma Theta to give back. I'm very excited about this and hope that a lot of my students participate.
Because of these three partnerships I reached out to the Computer Science department at the university. asking if any of the professors could be a guest speaker during my (Half) Hour of Code club. I wanted my students to see a real person doing a real job using coding skills. We have a lot of fun coding but I wanted them to see they could make a career out of this too. None of the professors were able to come but the dean suggested a senior student. He was awesome! You can read about it here. Again, they provided us with a service. I did write a post on my personal blog and I wrote an article for my school's website, the senior could use those to show how he's worked out in the community but really, we didn't do anything for the Computer Science department or the student.
In addition here are some more questions I'm working on answering myself. Please leave your blog posts on this topic in the comments below (and on Future Ready Librarians' Facebook page) so we can learn from each other!
1. How do you find community partners?
2. How can you make it an equal partnerships?
3. What partnerships currently exit with the community?
4. What partnerships do you plan to cultivate?
5. What strategies can you use to build stronger community partnerships?