Friday, August 1, 2014

A Missing Piece

As a new principal, one of the things I really wanted to focus on, was involving the entire community in helping our campus succeed.

One of the ideas that I had was to have a Business/Community Open House before school started.  One where we invite the business owners in town to come tour the campus, hear our vision, see what we have in store, and figure out a way for us to work together!

We planned the date (this upcoming Tuesday) and got the ball rolling.  I had postcards made and I split them between my office staff and asked the office staff (including myself) to hand deliver them to businesses inviting them to our open house.

What happened next was eye opening.  As my assistant Principal (Terry Garrett) and I visited businesses downtown, the experience was unexpected.  The business owners were shocked.  They didn't know why we were inviting them.  They had never even been asked to be a part of the education system.  And some didn't even know where the Intermediate School was located.  But most of all, they were interested.  They WANTED to come.  They WANTED to be a part.  They were just waiting for an invitation.

The conversations turned to excitement.  The conversations turned to interest.  Most of all, the conversations started.

Too many times, we as educators, forget to involve ALL stakeholders in our journey.  Sometimes people need an invitation.  They need to know they're wanted.

At Navasota Intermediate, we're going to bring everyone in.  We're going to work with this entire community to do what's best for these kids.

Will many business owners show up to our Business/Community Open House on Tuesday?  Who knows.  But I know one thing, the conversation has begun, and the walls are beginning to fall down.


  1. Your energy is electrifying! When I read your blogs, listen to your podcast, follow your comments on twitter, I feel your energy, excitement, and commitment. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Thank you for your insight. I am a first grade teacher who has been trying to figure out a way to connect to the business community. You have inspired me to do just that. As part of our study of our community of Pembroke, MA and our study of persuasive writing, our little firsties write a persuasive paragraph about their favorite place in Pembroke. Once they have gone through the whole writing process and the pieces are published and illustrated, we then put them in the places of business. I think it would be great if next year we invited the business community into the classroom to hear the students read their pieces and to offer some inside information about their particular venue. Thanks again...I'm excited to get started!

  3. Hey Todd,

    I think that it is great that you are trying to involve your community in your school as the more we can get people involved and empowered in helping our kids, the better, but I am going to challenge you a bit.

    Here is what you wrote:

    "One of the ideas that I had was to have a Business/Community Open House before school started. One where we invite the business owners in town to come tour the campus, hear our vision, see what we have in store, and figure out a way for us to work together!"

    I think there is a major difference in "hearing" about your vision and actually getting your community involved in developing it with you. If we had students in the classroom and we told them the rules and what the classroom is going to look like for them, would they really be empowered participants in the process, or are they just there to be told what to do?

    If you want the community involved (this includes staff, students, parents, and community members), developing a vision with them is much better than telling them what it is going to look like. You are more likely to get support when it is truly "our vision" which involves multiple stakeholders involved in the process of developing the vision and supporting it, not just supporting a vision that they hear about.

    With our schools developing a truly shared vision amongst our community takes a long time but the conversations that we had and having people know that they were part of developing this with us together, help to bring our community together to help our kids really do some amazing things. We are trying to focus on "empowering" our community, not just "engaging".

    Just my two cents.

    1. Totally agree George! By "vision", I had meant where we were headed with the whole staff being new. As a campus and with other stakeholders we've been currently working on designing a shared vision! Guess I just used the wrong wording.

  4. Our school system has what we call "Partners in Ed". This is a two-way agreement between the business and the schools. We have a signing ceremony and they become official partners. They are given a banner to hang in their business and the banner in our school has all of our partners on it. After that, it's up to the school and the business how we support one another. Being an elementary school, we typically have different students make art projects or write letters to hang in the local business. Good Luck on breaking down the walls!