Engaging the community leads to better schools

 

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By Matias De Dovitiis

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Our neighbourhood does not have the same quality of schools as other parts of the City. We need to do better. Getting our students and our parents to participate more in their school communities is an important step that we need to take in order to return our schools to where they need to be.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has just released test scores and many of our schools did not do as well as schools in many other districts in both the Grade 9 Mathematics and Grade 10 Literacy Tests. There are many reasons for this, but our schools need to be more engaged in order to turn this around. In order for this to work, increased engagement can’t just come from students, teachers and administrators, but parents and community members also need to be more involved in their children’s school lives. This is critical.

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It is not just about fundraising, but parents and community members need to participate in the everyday life of the school. Parents need to play an active role in facilitating their children’s academic success.

Some of the ways this can be achieved is by attending parent teacher meetings, and asking questions of teachers and administrators or by volunteering in parent teacher advisory councils and school extracurricular activities. Sometimes it is difficult for parents who work long hours and have multiple jobs and are interested in getting involved to attend parent teacher interviews and school activities. For this, teachers and administrators need to work together with these parents in order to find a way to allow them to be involved in their children’s education.

There are also members of our community who have a wide range of skills, experience and knowledge who could provide a great benefit to our students by volunteering their time by helping to facilitate extracurricular and mentorship activities.

The improvement to the quality of school activities raises the engagement of the students and students will learn more. Statistics have shown that the schools which score the highest on the Mathematics and Literacy tests are also the schools which have some of the highest levels of parental and community involvement.

We need to emulate this in order to help our local students to achieve the same level of academic success. It is also important that our students become more active in their community.

Over the past 8 years, I have taken thousands of grade 5’s on community clean-ups and tree plantings in the Downsview area. I can speak first hand about the importance of students being taught about the need to care for their community.Students who are more engaged in their community do better academically.

A school that is more engaged in the community will not only result in increased academic performance, but it will also be equipped with better resources to help kids stay in school and to help ensure that they don’t slip through the cracks.

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