School Community Assets
Parents and community members at large are part of the many amazing and often untapped human assets within potentially available to support learning. In recognizing our own strengths and those of others, a community can then maximize all available resources to support education. For example, parents who know something about:
- woodworking – can build bookshelves for the classroom.
- another country – can share cultural knowledge during a special celebration.
- another language – can interpret for another parent.
- working with groups – can help organize an event.
- food – can help in the lunchroom or special events.
- teaching, management or organization – can help with the parent council or hosting Parent Café’s
- sports – can help coach, referee
- reading – can take parents to library, become a one:one tutor, or lead a Literacy Action Team (i.e.. Calgary Reads)
Asking the caring adults to think of the people that supported their own learning and development is a great place to start in making an inventory of the local assets. Categorizing according to the assets in the home, school and community can be helpful. Dr. J. Epstein, Centre on School, Family and Community Partnerships recommends that efforts be made to increase the overlap among these three spheres of influence on a child’s life.
There are many other diverse kinds of assets that exist in a community. Relationships are the key to engaging all assets; these come from the social assets which are any opportunity that draws people together (in-person, events, social media, newsletters etc.). Physical assets are things that may include space, equipment, resources, etc. Every community has natural assets (outdoor places to learn, play and explore), and financial assets (possibilities to leverage on success; ie. grant programs, corporate support, local businesses, parent fundraising, etc).
Community asset pentagon can also be used as a tool to brainstorm the available assets in each of these categories.
Using this pentagon, participants note all assets, resources and talents on individual stickies which can then be applied to each of these areas. Many groups are surprised at the scope and number of strengths available to draw on in their school or extended community. Mapping is the first step, and then matching the resources and assets to goals is key to putting them in action.