Schools are the glue to the communities they serve, they hold people together and bring a sense of pride to residents in the community. Charter schools are inheritably located in communities where there is a specific need to fill a void. In that regard, charter schools do a variety of different things to involve their community.
Meeting families where they are at, charter schools:
Use their school as a community resource. Some communities where charter schools are located don’t have community centers to use for recreation. So charters offer up their campus facilities (i.e. basketball courts, park, classrooms) to others in the community for recreational use. Some charter schools even offer summer activities for all students and parents in the community- not just their school’s families.
Provide service to the community. Charter schools help orchestrate clean up projects around their community with other local community members to help beautify their community. Many Michigan charter schools have a niche – and for some, that niche is a service related aspect interwoven into their learning curriculum. This includes cleaning up their surrounding parks, visiting local retirement homes, fundraising donations and making supplies for community members in need.
Help provide basic needs to community members. Many charter schools serve communities that include families of low–income and poverty. Charters meet the needs of these families by understanding where they are coming from and how to best support their basic needs. An example of this includes, “Wash Day Wednesday” in which a Michigan charter school that takes it upon themselves to bring parents to a local laundry mat so they can not only provide a service to the families they serve, but also bring parents together to share important information about their children and help provide homework help to students – providing a transactional relationship for both the school and families.
Effectively communicate with families.How do schools know how to communicate best with their parents? Are they tech savvy and like email announcements? Or do they prefer texts? Maybe they can’t rely on technology because they have to change their cell number every few weeks and can’t afford a computer so they need a hard copy of important information. Charter school leaders see the best way to reach their parents and will do literally, whatever it takes to get in touch with them, even if that means talking a walk through the neighborhood and knocking on doors to get face to face time with parents.
Utilize the community resources. Charter school leaders understand that the school can be an intimidating place for parents to walk into – especially if they do not have a lot of experience in education themselves. Charter schools will meet their families out in other local community buildings to decrease the stress and intimidation factor of being at the school.
There are a variety of different ways that charter schools help serve the needs that their communities require. Michigan charter schools do all they can to help support the need for all their families.