Some of you may know him as the Civic Association President of Nauck, others know him as the gentleman who has the knack for knowing his community of South Arlington inside and out. I have had the sincere pleasure of working with Dr.Alfred O. Taylor Jr. in several community Leadership capacities, but by far and away, his role as teacher and passionate connector stands out to me, quite possibly the most.
If you have been wondering what makes up a “good school” in Northern Virginia, please take moment to read over some of Dr. Taylor’s notes taken from a recent open letter to the community. I think this will ring true to all communities.
Educationally Speaking . . .
Quality education comes from a real partnership between parents, community and education professionals working together.
It is imperative that we as the community think of the responsibilities we must undertake, if we truly want our students to be given the best quality education possible. We must all began by accepting the realization that quality education comes from a real partnership between parents, community and teachers working together. This real partnership comes about when all entities meet and collaborate on what it expects to achieve by working closely together to reach a consensus opinion or agreement. What makes a good school has less to do with the configuration of the school or the socioeconomic standard of the neighborhood and as a community we must insist that those qualities that can be identified in successful schools continue in our community schools.
A good school has the following qualities:
• Strong and professional administrators and teachers.
• A broad curriculum available to all students.
• A philosophy that says all children can learn if taught, coupled with high expectations for all students.
• A school climate that is conducive to learning.
• A good school is safe, clean, caring and well-organized.
• An ongoing assessment system that supports good instruction.
• A high level of parent and community involvement and support.
Teachers alone cannot fix what’s wrong with low or underachieving schools, and quite obviously, methods presently used do not always work. Is it because the community is being reactive instead of proactive? So where do we go from here?
There is no “one size – fits all” prescription. What works for the Williamsburg or Arlington Traditional communities may not work in the community. Let’s take the opinion of Maria Paschall, and I agree, the solutions start and end in the community where children, parents and teachers live. County systems need to give principals, teachers, community and parents latitude to identify the problems and develop solutions together. It’s a proven fact that when it becomes our solution instead of their solution (the system), the results are usually positive.
Parental involvement is a must, which is why it makes so much sense to preserve traditional neighborhood schools. This is especially important if we as parents, community members and volunteers are to be involved while sometimes lacking transportation or juggling multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. As parents we are more apt to be active in the schools if our children are in class with neighborhood youngsters and taught by people who live in the community or have established a relationship with it. The value of relationships fostered by parents (community members) and teachers are immeasurable when they can effectively communicate behavioral and academic expectations in the classroom.
We must also be mindful that a school is an important part of a community. Failure on the part of either (school or community) can bring discredit to the other. We as residents or supporters of the community must visit the school regularly and participate in assemblies, often addressing some of the critical issues of the community and indicating where and how help can be obtained. We must share our talents and experiences (whether we have students enrolled or not) with the school, thereby projecting positive images and serving as role models for students. In closing, the education of a child is above all a cooperative (the Village Concept) effort that involves the school, teachers, parents and the community. community, this is our challenge, this is our task.