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How to Use Community Resources to Raise Successful Students

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Stacie L has been an educator for many years and likes to share her experiences and advice.

A professional chef giving a cooking lesson

A professional chef giving a cooking lesson

Public Schools Need Help

Regardless of how our national economy is faring, a nearly constant truth is that the public school system needs extra support. Principals and school boards must make difficult choices about how to allocate scarce resources, and teacher reductions and other cuts are an unfortunate result. Caught in the middle, of course, are our nation's future: schoolchildren.

Businesses can donate money and support local schools with some free workers. Donating time and money are two great ways local business owners can support their local school students.

There's a saying that "it takes a whole village to raise a child," so it really is appropriate in today's economic climate. It's often thought that only parents of the children who attend a local school can be supportive, but non-parents can also play an important role as well.

There are many adults in a community who have knowledge, skills, and resources to help students in and out of the school system.

Video how volunteers reading to children

Local restaurants and grocers may be able to help by donating workers or food to the local schools for financially needy students. Breakfast, morning snacks and after school snacks are always welcomed. Grocers can donate food to needy families or run specials for those below the poverty line. There are food banks now in most towns and municipalities but people are embarrassed to go sometimes. Making an appointment to go may save some pride and embarrassment for those families. Also volunteering a day each week will allow parents to feel better about receiving their allotment.

Restaurants can run weekly special for student and parents for the dinner or breakfast hour. Making lunches for children is another good way to stop throwing away expired food that is still good to eat. Raffles are another great way to raise funds. This is a time-honored method that never seems to go out of favor.

Volunteers such as parents can form "taxis" groups to save on gas, transporting the children to and from school. Even though gas prices have dropped to record lows this past year, some people are still on a tight budget and need help with transportation. Not every district's schools are within walking distance. Some are very rural with miles between farms and ranches. Buses must leave before dawn and travel many miles and a few hours in some instances to reach every student. Parents taxis can help tremendously with this task.

A donation of school supplies, such as pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, small equipment, and in some cases, computers, are in dire need. Many schools are using computers and tablets only. Textbooks are becoming too expensive and become outdated fast. I've seen local companies donate playgrounds and play equipment to local schools also.

The PTA and others raised funds for new equipment. many of these people were not parents of any the children but they felt that they could have a positive effect by making a contribution.

Local businesses can donate their time and expertise each week by teaching a vocational class, such as cooking, remodeling, electrician or plumbing. Also tech support such as computer repair, computer setup, website coding, and building.

Businesses can and do get tax write-offs for donations so this can help two ways.

Foster grandmother reading to a student

Foster grandmother reading to a student

Volunteer literacy coach

Volunteer literacy coach

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Volunteers Can Help Save Money for Schools

School budgets are strapped for cash even more than ever so getting people to come work for free is such an asset. After some training, local volunteers can assist greatly in classrooms, playgrounds, and in before and after school programs.

Volunteers can also come into the school system to help before school officially starts in the morning, and after school ends, to watch, the children, whose parents have jobs and responsibilities and cannot get to the school or be home when school lets out. Many volunteers, such as Foster Grandparents, work one on one with children who need more attention in academic as well as social needs.

Older students can read stories to younger children, and student teachers often need to get experience, so schools will utilize their skills.

Individuals who have talents can come to the schools and teach a class for free. I worked for a public charter school and parents and non-parents would teach different classes to help fill the curriculum. The students loved it and they got a chance to learn something not normally taught.

High schools often have local business people come in for "Career Day". Now, with tighter budgets, local business people could "teach" a class once a week and also have students "try out" a future career after school, in their shop or vocations.

Summary of Community Support Ideas for Schools

"It takes a whole village to raise a child," so don't be shy to call up your local school and see what they need.

Even though the economy is improving, citizens should continue to help their local schools in any way they can.

Businesses need to help support local schools with their money and time. Money donations, goods, volunteering their work staff, are all important. These measures ensure the future of our students as well as everyone else in the community. They become productive citizens that have job skills that will translate into future homeowners, taxpayers, and employers.

Since businesses can write off these donations and free assistance, it's a win-win for the kids and themselves. Maybe they think that they have paid enough in taxes, so they have already done their part. But that is only part of the equation. The future generations are at risk if everyone doesn't pitch in.

Other non-parents can have just as much an impact on the local schools and their students. Volunteer parents can step in a few days a week to help with the before and after school care, so working parents don't have to pay for babysitters. Older students can help younger students with school work and homework. The honor students can serve as role models for behavior as well as school achievement.

Senior volunteers can help before and after school and in the classroom. They can take up the slack when there isn't the money to hire aides or cafeteria workers. Just because you don't have children or any old enough to attend school, doesn't mean you don't have a role to play.

There are many talented, generous people in the community that can help make their own neighborhood school a little better. Join a PTA, volunteer in a classroom or playground, teach a weekly class, or donate some supplies. All these extra people helping out and working for free greatly helps out financially strapped school districts. Don't hesitate to help!

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2008 Stacie L

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