If you believe that “it takes a village to raise a child,” you’ll want to know about the connections between your school and its surrounding community.

One measure of community involvement is the quantity of volunteer participation. Even more important is the character of that involvement.

When you visit a school, ask about what kind of work volunteers have done for the school. Who is involved? Companies? Community organizations? Students from nearby schools or colleges? What are they doing? Tutoring students? Raising money?

In talking to teachers, parents, administrators and community members, you might want to ask additional questions that get at the kind of relationship between the school and its community:

  • What are the primary issues being addressed by the district school board? Are those meetings civil? Do they seem to be focused on issues central to the quality of teaching and learning in district schools?
  • Are young people coming to school ready to learn? Does the surrounding community make an effort to ensure that they do?
  • Do parents and other community members participate in setting goals for the school and reviewing its performance?

Finally, ask about how students have been involved in the surrounding community. If this is important to you, look for signs that the school provides meaningful opportunities for students to be involved in the community outside of the school campus.