An old African proverb states that “it takes a village to raise a child.” It has also been argued in more recent times that “it takes a family to raise a child.” But in the school environment, where we focus on education, what does it take? In reflecting on my experiences at Concordia International School Shanghai, I believe the answer is clear- it takes a community to educate a child.
When we think of the education of a child, the picture that often comes to mind is one of a school filled with teachers. These teachers work tirelessly to daily inspire, engage, counsel, support, communicate, and encourage their students. And amidst their seemingly endless tasks, they are busy being lifelong learners themselves- attending meetings, reading books, participating in professional development, and reflecting on their practice in order to perfect it for the next day. There is no doubt that teachers are active and important members of this community of education. Have you thanked your child’s teacher(s) lately for the work they put in as members of this community that helps to educate your child?
But who else makes up this community? Who else makes the institution of education work? Who else educates our children?
There are, of course, the hundreds of other employees that make our school function. From secretaries to accountants, facilities managers to cafeteria workers, we all know and greatly value the work that they do day in and day out to make our campuses safer, cleaner, and far more functional. Like teachers, these roles are essential to the education that our children receive. And also like teachers, these roles far too often go unappreciated. Have you smiled and greeted a guard in the morning, held a door open for an ayi, or even just picked up after yourself to help someone’s day get a little easier?
One role of this community of education that we often forget is the parents. Statistics tell us that students who have parents actively involved in their child’s school community will be happier, more active themselves, well adjusted, and often perform better in school. At Concordia, parents play an integral role in enhancing the educational experience of every student, not just their own. From whole school events to classroom parties, the parents of Concordia help to make the community of education whole and complete. And no matter your interests, passport country, home language, or age—there’s a place for you to get involved. Have you invited a new parent for coffee, attended a PSO meeting, signed up to volunteer at a school event, or helped a fellow parent on campus who looks lost?
The people your children are around in their everyday lives will affect who they will be in the future. At Concordia, where community is at the center of it all, being an active part of this community gives you as a parent the opportunity to help create and structure the educational experience for your child and many more.
Jaime Thomas is a Concordia parent and Parent Support Organization volunteer.