Present a list of ideas for creating ways that a Director might collaborate or partner with the community. Discuss ways they might work with a local government, school district, and others to ensure that their program is well received and well represented within the community.
1. First, the director would reach out to work with the local school district. I am assuming this would be an Early Childhood Director. It was in my case when I worked for Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center. The director reached out to the school district in order to partner with them. This was successful. Together they wrote a grant and got much of the VHECEC funded. This allowed the center to be a part of the school district. Together they planned to prevent some of the gaps in student's education. The district shared areas where improvement was needed as the center planned to target those areas in the early childhood program. They also worked together on improving educational transitions from VHECEC to the primary schools, which improve academic achievement. PPS #150 was VHECEC's largest stake-holder.
2. Second, the director would reach out to the local government and community. In our community, the director reached out to the state, to the county, to the city, and to the local community colleges. The director wanted to promote family improvement. He wanted to enlist help for parents from all branches of local government, and he wanted to work with the colleges to help young parents who wanted more formal education. He pointed out how this would be a benefit to them by how all of this improvement would advance the city, the county, the state, and the local community. This worked well. Parents got free city bus passes to come and volunteer at the center. The county extension service offered different programs for parents at the center; the state came in and did workshops on financial aid and filing taxes. The regional superintendent's office came in and did educational classes for parents who were interested in working with children. It was an example of everyone benefiting by helping one another.
3. Third, the director would reach out to local media. The director at VHECEC used this as a way to let the community know about events that were taking place at the center. This would help to invite families into the center and make it even more of a village, or a family centered community of its own.
4. Fourth, the director should reach out to the educational community, to other educators, and to the early childhood community. The early childhood center was incorporating some pretty innovative methods and practices. As a part of the educational community, the director felt it was important to share what VHECEC was doing with others, and to visit other centers that were also incorporating some pretty innovative methods and practices.
5. Fifth, but really first, the director insisted that the families of the children at VHECEC be involved. All of the other reaching out that the director did was for the benefit of the children and the families of VHECEC. There was a day care center within the center for the parents who still had little ones and wanted to go to school. There was a parent room full of resources that different groups in the community provided. There were parenting classes offered. There were classes on how to fill out tax returns and how to sign up for student assistance. All of this was available because of the directors work in reaching out to the different members of the community. The director simply responded to every need as it arose, and as he did this, he involved more and more different members of the community.
6. The director should reach out to individuals in the community. At the VHECEC parents, grandparents, and other individuals in the community were always encouraged to come in and read to the children, have lunch with the children, help teachers with nap time, help teachers with projects, and just to spend time with the children as members of the village. We were also called the fish bowl because many contributors, stakeholders, educators, community members, politicians, and volunteer groups wanted to see the good work that was being done at the VHECEC. Including everyone in the process is what made it great. This was based on the idea that it takes a village to raise a child.
The director reached out to whomever he thought could help the VHECEC, the school board, the school district, the city, the county, the state, colleges in our area, the media, stores, many different small businesses, big businesses like Caterpillar Tractor Company, local theatre, The Peoria Civic Center, the mission, the salvation army, the girl scouts and boy scouts, artists, and individuals who wanted to be apart of the experience. Everyone who cared about children, families, and the community was welcome to lend a hand in whatever way they could.
Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center, Peoria, Illinois
Helm (1993) describes the planning, organization, and mission of the Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center in Peoria, Illinois:
"VALESKA HINTON EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION CENTER:
How a Community Collaboration Can Make a Dream Come True
As the first bus pulled up to the door on August 25, 1993, five very small children ...