Let’s face it: if public school was given a mascot, it would probably be the scapegoat.  Why are students from other countries performing better in academics?  It’s the public school teachers’ fault.  Why are the morals of our country declining?  It’s the public school teachers’ fault.  Why is there more bullying, violence, and drug use?  Yep – public school teachers’ fault.

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And let me get this straight – public school teachers should be held responsible for their actions and duties.  If a school is struggling as a whole in any category, or the majority of youth in a particular community are dealing with a certain problem, it should be on the educators of that neighborhood to work on resolving the issue.

But there are a whole lot of problems and influences that occur outside of the classroom walls – and are brought into the school building – that impact the direction of the local and national community.   It is often not the public school teachers’ fault that there is a local or national crisis, even if it is a youth crisis.  But since we are with many of our nation’s children for seven hours a day…scapegoat.

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How can public school educators go about obtaining a different mascot?  I think the first and very crucial step to dismissing myths and building confidence in our public school system is by doing one of the things I enjoy most about teaching – serving the community.

Why should teachers serve the community outside classroom walls?  For the following reasons:

  1. Modeling Citizenship – serving the community outside of the classroom walls is a great example of modeling citizenship to students.  Oftentimes teachers can involve students in community service projects.
  2. Building Relationships – serving the community enables me to build healthy relationships with great individuals and local businesses and organizations.  These relationships can often lead to amazing collaborative efforts, too.
  3. Creating Transparency – unless someone is a parent of a student, rumors and media are what build many people’s perceptions of the local school.  Serving the community allows those who may not see you in any other circumstance observe who you really are and what you are all about.  It enables an educator to tear down negative misconceptions and build up positive community impressions.

I recently held a workshop this summer on exploring the rocky shore at a fantastic local bookstore called MainStreet BookEnds of Warner.  I was able to model good citizenship, build stronger relationships with both the store and those who attended (thanks Live Wire Daycare and Preschool!), and play a small part in giving the public a look at what our school district is all about.

If you’re wondering how you and your school can serve the local community, below are some examples from the school I am proud to a part of…but the most important thing is to serve your community in the unique ways you are equipped to do so, and in ways your community could use some assistance.

Consider…

  • saving items like apple cores from school lunches and giving them to local farms for their animals.
  • having annual food and clothing drives around the holidays to feed and clothe those in need.
  • collaborating with a local farm stand and have students learn how to grow a garden while helping out the business.
  • holding an annual snack shop and have students choose a charity to donate all the proceeds.
  • conducting poetry readings or art shows at the local library and open it to the public.
  • teaching workshops on specific content you are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about.
  •  reading to students and other youth at the local bookstore or library.

Posted by thirdgradesmith

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