In 2011, I spoke about the need to return New Britain to neighborhood schools. In addition to the fact that it will allow us to spend more of our capital on improving instruction there are reasons neighborhood schools are right for New Britain. As we return to the neighborhood school model it is important that we focus on how neighborhood schools can reshape the face of New Britain.
One of the most important benefits of the neighborhood school is that when you have them, the neighborhood can take ownership of the school. New Britain’s elementary schools need to become a cornerstone of the local community. This outreach needs to start with the school reaching out and engaging the community in meaningful ways that help shape the community, it also means inviting the community into the schools in partnerships that can grow and flourish.
Community Focused Events
Through community focused events we teach our students to take pride in themselves, and their community. School sponsored community clean up events, school focused food drives for community groups, community gardens, these are all projects that can be educationally viable. They also teach students some of the basic fundamentals of good citizenship. We often hear that schools are now responsible for teaching basics such as honesty, manners, and civic duty – but if we are going to do so, why not do it in a meaningful way?
School as a Foundation
When you promote the public school as a bedrock of the community with close ties to the neighborhood it becomes a foundation around which the community can grow. It provides all students in the neighborhood with a common identity, a common background. They all belong to a special community that is their school. Used correctly, this can start help to improve quality of life in those neighborhoods.