Donovan Group Insights

Always Seek Greater Engagement

Picture who’s part of your school community. The first groups that come to mind are probably students, teachers, families and administrators. These also tend to be the people your district communicates with the most. But what about everyone else?

Internal stakeholders are only one piece of the pie. Other community members—alumni, non-parents, business owners, elected officials—influence the district’s success, too. Yet, they often receive the least amount of engagement. When you extend the district’s reach, you may find an unprecedented level of support from the broader community.

Engagement develops community relationships

The community plays a larger role in your district than you may realize. District leaders often make the mistake of believing those who aren’t directly involved have little stake in the district’s success. As it turns out, the community is an untapped reservoir of support for your district.

To tap into the community’s support, your district needs to strengthen its communication efforts. Engaging indirect members of the district shows you care enough to keep them in the loop about district affairs. Increased engagement can also help community members feel welcome in the district, which paves the way for mutual trust and understanding.

By improving community relationships, your district is more likely to garner the community’s support when it matters the most. Whether you’re facing a referendum, a change in leadership or a crisis situation, their support is key to maintaining a positive perception of your district.

Community support leads to a better education

Community support doesn’t just benefit the district itself. It directly translates into greater support for teachers, students and their families. Not everyone has a child attending classes in your district, yet their feedback can influence the course of public education.

For instance, greater community engagement could lead to increased support for referenda aimed at improving the educational experience. Those who feel connected to their district are more invested in students’ academic success. Community support could mean more capital and resources for your schools.

Support increases access to tools that improve the quality of public education. Community members can make a real difference in students’ lives, especially those who come from underserved populations. Community support opens the door to possibilities your district couldn’t achieve on its own.

Engaging the community should include more than students, staff and families. The bulk of stakeholders, indirect though they might be, may never set foot within the schools’ walls. Never underestimate their power to change public education. Make the community feel welcome, and they’re likely to change it for the better.

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