Dig This

photo 4 (3)It was a February day so sunny and warm I expected to be able to turn on the Dodger game in the car on my way home. A dozen or so dads from my kids’ grade school gathered for a demolition party. Fueled by camaraderie and the spirit of helping out, we put our backs behind shovels, picks, and rakes, and leveled the remnants of a community garden to prepare the way for a renewed space where the kids could plant and learn.

Two things hit me as I bandaged up a torn finger and had a chance to look around me at the work getting done: we were having fun and feeling good about what we were doing, and while we weren’t directly working with kids, our digging, and lifting, and raking was going to make a real difference for students.

While a little dustier than some of the work parents do for schools, what we were up to was a pretty standard example of what parents do all the time at Diegueño: they give generously of time and from pocketbooks, they have fun together (at luncheons and volunteering at jog-a-thons), and they make huge differences for kids.

photo (2)At Diegueño our students see the generosity of parents in real and profound ways. A large number of the Chromebooks our students use every single day are a direct result of PTSA donations. Our parents have funded tables, chicken wings for science class, puppet theaters, and enough kleenex to fill a dozen boxcars. Students laugh and learn in a media center stocked with books (some) donated by parents, and each hold a student agenda because the parents know that helping kids stay organized helps them both short and long term.

The parents at Diegueño know that support goes beyond writing a check. With generous hearts and artistic eyes, parents host staff appreciation lunches throughout the year, as famous for their gorgeous centerpieces as they are the outpouring of love and thanks offered to our teachers and staff. In a world where it’s easy to be critical, these luncheons remind us all how fortunate we are to be in this together.

Healthy relationships between parents and teachers is one measure of a healthy school, and from events like our Diegueño Book Club to the parents who volunteer in the library at lunch or art room on Fridays, parents and teachers understand that we’re all partners in educating healthy kids.

I'm the one in the garish makeup for the "Zombie Fun Run!"

I’m the one in the garish makeup for the “Zombie Fun Run!”

I look forward to my monthly Coffees with the Principal. It’s not that the crowd is simply there to clap at what’s going on; at our best meetings we share questions and answers, celebrate student learning, and talk about how best we can work together to help kids.

Our PTSA meets twice a month, and in addition to great discussion about how to make Diegueño the best place it can be, I love that I hear lots of laughter, and that the parents seem genuinely happy to be there.

Good ideas? They’ve got them, along with big hearts, ready smiles, and a love for our school. Shovels? Well, we haven’t needed those yet, but if we did, I have no doubt but that they’d dig that too!

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One thought on “Dig This

  1. The Parent and Community Engagement Framework identifies what schools can do to strengthen learning outcomes for students — through effective partnerships between principals, teachers, students, parents and the community. The framework is based around five key principles:
    • Communication
    • Learning partnerships
    • Community collaboration
    • Decision making
    • Participation
    The Framework was developed with the support and direction by Professor Ben Levin, Professor John Hattie and Dr George Otero.
    By building a simple community garden, opening your doors to parents to come and chat over coffee you are attending to all of these key principles, but most of all you are making yourself accessible, this is the most important step to start the process. Well done!

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