Forging Partnerships, Opening Doors – Community School Case Studies from Manitoba and Saskatchewan

The 95% Capacity rating does not support the development of community schools or Neighbourhood Learning Centres the BC Ministry of Education promotes and the space current education methods need to teach students. Dr. Susan Phillips wrote these books that you can read them partially online titled “Teacher Quality in Canada” dated 2002 and “The Role of the School Principal: Present Status and Future Challenges in Managing Effective Schools” dated 2003 for the Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education. The first book was written on how best to prepare, recruit, assign, retain, evaluate, compensate and support teachers to be the best they can be. Click here or on the pdf file to read the full article or an excerpt below.




Dr. Phillips holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Brigham Young University and a Masters Degree in School Counselling and a B Ed from the University of Victoria. She has over 27 years of experience in the BC public school system including teaching, counselling, consultant and administrative positions at the school and district level. Her experience encompasses many different types of school organizations and programs including those targeting at-risk adolescents and adult learners, where she has successfully facilitated many school/community collaborations. Dr. Phillips has served on many curriculum development projects, program reviews, and task forces at district and provincial levels. Her research experience includes conducting field-based case studies and reviews of the literature to guide policy and practice. She is author of Teacher Quality in Canada (2002) and co-author of Trading Up–High School and Beyond: Five Illustrative Case Studies (2007).


Parent/Community Involvement

Trying to educate children without parent family and community involvement is like trying to rake leaves on a windy day. (Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth)

As has been documented in these case studies, consistency is important in school-family relationship building. Students, parents and community members often are reluctant to participate unless a trusting relationship has been developed with at least one member of the school community. Staff turnover has a negative impact on efforts to build the community school culture, cultivate a sense of belonging, and maintain relationships which are the backbone of community education. Mobility of children and their families exacerbates the situation. From all sites, we heard of the need to develop trusting relationships before progressing to other levels of engagement.

All respondents indicated that there is a positive atmosphere in their schools and that parents felt welcomed and included in the decision-making process. However, in most schools studied, few parents/caregivers attend formal meetings or perform scheduled volunteer duties. While growth in these activities has been noted in all schools, this remains an important focus for each one. More parents need to be involved, and to continue towards authentic engagement in the school community.

In the schools studied there is recognition that a family is not necessarily two parents with children. A large number of children are being raised by their grandmothers, the kookums. Some grandmothers were raising grandchildren from more than one of their own children, so there are often both siblings and cousins in a household. The primary caregivers are often members of the extended family. A larger percentage of Aboriginal children than non-Aboriginal children are in foster placements. Recognizing varied family arrangements includes actions such as: being sensitive to vocabulary, e.g., who is invited and how invitations are worded; being aware of the changing dynamics of who is living in a household; and providing programs targeting a variety of caregivers with differing needs and experiences, e.g., young mothers and kookums.

Table 9.2 provides examples of school programming to promote parent/community involvement, illustrating a number of strategies to draw families in, supports to enable their involvement, and education for family/caregiver groups.

Table 9. 2 Illustrative Examples of School Programming to Promote Parent/Community Involvement


Strategies • Coffee Corner (Gordon Denny)
• Community Room –coffee and newspapers (David Livingstone)
• Facility use for birthday parties and family events (Gordon Denny)
• Home visits (many schools)
• Kookum Bingo (David Livingstone)
• Nutrition Bingo (David Livingstone)
Supports • Most schools provide meals for the entire family as an incentive for participation
• Childcare is provided or children are welcome at almost all activities
• Often children of multiple ages are able to participate in the same event to relieve childcare issues
• Transportation or transportation assistance is available in many instances
Educational programs • FAST and FAST Works (most sites)
• Families in the Kitchen (Wapanohk)
• Family Days (Stobart)
• Hello Parents Conference (Wapanohk)
• Adult education (David Livingston)


It is important to note that methods of communication with the school community need to be diverse and frequent: word of mouth; radio; newsletters; through community resource people; announcements and signs at community events; on notice boards; and through flyers. Invitations need to be personalized and repeated over time, even if there appears to be no resulting participation. A principal related that one parent took seven years to overcome her reluctance to participate.

If there is a phrase to describe the process of increasing parental/caregiver and community involvement in community schools, it is “constantly developing relationships one person at a time.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s