Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Community

Just about every morning at Discovery High School I am in the hallway greeting students as they enter the building. Usually I refer to the day of the week and loudly proclaim something like "people of earth, I see you," or "people of the Discovery tribe, good morning!" I feel like it's important to let students know that we are happy that they are here. And I think that for some of them it helps to wake them up.
I was thinking about this this morning because lately I have been considering the idea of community and what makes a strong community. As some people may know, I am currently in the middle of a campaign for city council. One of the things that people often ask me is "why did you decide to run?" It's a good question and it's one that I ask myself as well.
"Why did I decide to run?"
There are varying reasons that I will get into later and that might be better served in a different forum but for me the underlying idea is that I want to make my city better. I see things that need to be changed. I see work that needs to be done. I want to help make positive changes. I think I'm the right person to help make those changes. It boils down to the fact that this is a community that I care about.
And there's that word again. Community.
It has different meanings to different people. Here at school we have a community time where the entire school assembles and we share information, celebrate successes, recognize individuals who embody the spirit of Discovery, and feature the talents of our students. It's a fun time where we are all together and it helps us to build this "Discovery Tribe." It's shared by all of us and is important to us.
But a community should also mean something bigger. Here at Discovery we bring many students from all over the area into our school. These students come from different feeder schools, different districts, and different counties in some situations. We throw them all together here and try to make something special.
But one of the things I think we often overlook is the parents of these students. These parents come from disparate backgrounds as well. And we want them to be part of our community. Let me correct myself. We NEED them to be part of our community. We, as a school, can't be as successful as we want to be without the support of the parents.
Parents have always been an integral part of a school, Sometimes it isn't as evident as it used to be but schools need parents in a big way. In a time when societal support is waning for public schools, and our own state government can't pass a budget to fund basic services, parents are the life-line to making schools better. Schools need to appeal to our parents more and we need to not be afraid to ask for help. Parents often ask what they can do to help. We need to ask them to help when we need them and they need to be prepared to step up when we do so.
You see, this is central to the idea of a community. People depending on one another, holding each other accountable, and working together to make a better place. Parents, teachers, students.  A school is a community and we are all in this together. Parents and students expect a lot from their school. And they are right to do so. But we are never stronger when we are all in this together. Supporting one another. Fighting the good fight. Striving to become more than the sum of our parts. Working to become the best school possible. The best community possible. And that's going to take all of us.