First I know that the staff at Parkside Elementary school is screaming at each other that they are the subject of a blog and they are all running back and forth between offices and computers….I can envision it now.
Secondly, we have an amazing relationship with the school we meet in. Being portable has its challenges. Setup – tear down – where are the power strips – who’s getting the trailer – and the list goes on. But it does undoubtedly have its advantages. For us the big advantage is being in such a great relationship with the school. And they are amazing!
I know as Christians you are to love your neighbor. The problem is most will admit to loving, but not necessarily liking our neighbor. But not the case with us. We really like them. And how can you not? I have never seen a group of people so dedicated to the vision of reaching those children and changing their lives. It is infectious. They should be truly proud of the team they have built.
But how did we manage such a great relationship with them? Well the easy and best answer is God. It is a God thing. The whole thing just plopped in our lap. But beyond that it is our responsibility to maintain and develop our relationship. And here are a few things I think have helped.
- Find Common Ground – Theologically you could say schools aren’t necessarily on the same page as the church…they shouldn’t be. They are asked to educate our children not preach to them…now I’ve opened up a whole mess of worms. Anyhow…they do see eye to eye with us on this…we want to change our community. They know that we are just as interested in those kids as they are. And we want to partner with them in making a difference. Any school can get on board with impacting the community.
- Give back – You should strive to serve the school you meet at. We also offer our assistance to running sound, lights, etc. on special events. Our pastor speaks to the entire staff on a regular basis. Why? Because we’re asked! And we love it! We’ve brought them breakfast, cooked out burgers, and other fun things. Be creative – plant flowers – bring lunch – think out of the box!
- Take care of the kids – We look for ways to help out under-privileged kids by provided school supplies. This is a great way to tangibly touch those who need help. Get with the guidance councelor and ask how many kids need help. Then get your church to bring supplies. Plus the added benefit is you get to sniff Crayola crayons.
- Own up to your mistakes – If something is broke, fix it! We broke a table. We paid for it. Nuff said.
- Talk – Communicate with your point of contact. Let them know of what is coming up. See if there are ways you can make less of a foot print on the school. Are there things that are going great? Going bad? Could be better? Are above expectations? Remember you work with them. The summer is difficult with us Lots of floor waxing going on. And we have to communicate to work around these challenges.
- Say thanks! – Yes we signed a contract and there are certain things that we say we’ll
do and they say they’ll do. But what about the rest of the school? We try often to say thank you to not
only the office staff (who kick butt), but also to the entire school. We
effect every teacher in that school every weekend whether we realize it
or not. We try to be invisible but that isn’t the case every weekend.
So have a cookout or bring breakfast or simply coffee from Dunkin’. And don’t forget the custodial staff. And Parkside has the best. They clean up after you. Take care of them. Remember them at Christmas!
So hope this helps. And one more shout-out to Parkside….you all are the best!! We couldn’t ask for a better team to partner with!