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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Partnerships-The Key To Creating Opportunities for Students

You can only do so much.

I wanted to expand an enrichment program I established at the school where I work~ but I just didnt have the man (or more accurately~ the lady power). With the help of five~ very loyal~ moms~ we had enrolled about 45 elementary students in a program that involved them joining various enrichment clusters.

The program was a success~ and school administrators were interested in expanding it to involve all 250 or so of the campus elementary students. The problem was that~ in order for that to happen~ I would need at least another 10 to 20 parents to volunteer their time for the one-day-per week program.
That was not happening. After sending out a recruitment letter~ I sadly learned that only a couple of additional parents wanted to help.

Then~ I got lucky.

My intern at the time~ a student at the University of Tampa~ told me about a professor who required students to participate in community service projects as part of the curriculum. I sent her an e-mail not expecting much~ but to my surprise~ she wrote me back saying she was extremely interested in having her students serve as coaches for the enrichment clustersall 60 of them!

Bingo! I had hit the jackpot~ and knew I would have enough help to establish a schoolwide program~ where all children had a chance to engage in enrichment each week.

Currently~ the U.T. professor and I are collaborating on the project~ working out scheduling~ enrollment~ and other details. In addition~ we are planning a research study of the project~ analyzing attendance records~ grades~ attitudes~ and other factors~ and plan to share our findings through academic papers and conferences. I cant tell you how excited I am about the opportunity to make this program a realityand it is all possible because of one word: partnerships.

During my last blog~ I wrote about ways to effectively work with parents of gifted children (seehttp://community.educationworld.comcontent/three-ways-successfully-work-gifted-parents).However~ partnerships are about taking it to the next level. It means coming together to reach mutually beneficially goals~ which in the end~ provide more opportunities and services to children.
To me~ the U.T. partnership represents a model for whats possible: schools~ colleges~ and other organizations working together to provide more educational opportunities. These kinds of partnerships are synergistic~ meaning that the parts are greater than the whole. In other words~ a school or a college alone could not accomplish what can be achieved when these organizations work together.

In this spirit of cooperation~ I would like to suggest some possible partnerships that schools and teachers can form to create something greater. Please feel free to add your ideas~ and together~ we can engage in a very meaningful conversation.
- As mentioned~ schools can partner with nearby universities~ colleges~ and community colleges to provide enrichment programs as well as remedial/tutoring programs~ mentorships and other services.

- Elementary and middle schools can partner with high schools to create similar programs

- Schools can work with charities~ such as animal shelters and food kitchens~ to create community service programs.

- Schools can partner with businesses to create internships and mentoring programs.

- Museums can work with schools to provide opportunities for students to display work and shadow professionals.

- Schools can collaborate with banks and other financial institutions to provide opportunities for students to learn financial literacy and other skills possibly lacking in the curriculum.

- Individual teachers can work with local businesses and associations~ which can provide funds and other support for projects. For instance~ a teacher might contact a marine conservation group about sponsoring a fish-hatching project in the classroom.

Partnerships allow teachers and schools to create opportunities for students~ which otherwise~ wouldnt be possible. These opportunities could be the learning experiences that truly make a difference in young peoples lives~ and for that reason alone~ it makes sense to build long-term collaborations.

Thank you~