Adopt-a-school programs are cropping up across the country, as many communities tune into the benefits the programs offer to both students and community members. According to the American Chemical Society, who operates such a program, “Adopt-a-school fosters a better sense of understanding of the community's school system, strengthens and improves school programs and curricula, and creates a sense of personal involvement and interaction between organizations and schools.”
The benefits of adopting a school extend to all parties. The organization that adopts the school receives positive public relations through their involvement with such an integral part of the community. The school benefits from the involvement, as students are enriched through programs that expand their knowledge base. The school’s staff and faculty are supported in their efforts.
Indeed, the program can be a win-win for everyone, if it is implemented well. Consider these four examples of positive adopt-a-school programs and the stellar results they have reaped for both the schools and the community at large.
This military base received national recognition in 2008 for its effective adopt-a-school program, winning the National Civic Star Award, according to a report in the Killeen Daily Herald. Fort Hood partners with neighborhood schools in eight different Texas school districts every year, involving more than 5,000 soldiers and 2,500 teachers in the program. Soldiers go into the schools and read with the kids and act as mentors. When the soldiers are deployed, many keep in touch with the children while they are away from home.
In addition to the reading program, one Fort Hood unit helped students plant a garden at their school. When the unit was deployed, they found another school near their base to do the same thing. The soldiers kept in touch with students from both schools, so they could compare the progress of their gardens.
Even the Federal Bureau of Investigations is getting involved with local schools to help at-risk kids stay in school and become good citizens. The FBI website says the primary goal of the adopt-a-school program is, "to show kids how to resist bad influences that could lead them to crime, drug use, gang participation and violence." FBI special agents and staff go into schools to tutor and mentor students.
A new program developed by the FBI Laboratory in northern Virginia focuses on encouraging kids to become interested in science and laboratory work. The program, known as the Junior Scientist Program, involves FBI scientists visiting schools and conducting a science-based program that encourages students to consider a career in a science-related field. Some schools also develop a Junior Special Agent program that teaches students how to be law-abiding citizens.
Even Las Vegas is getting in on the adopt-a-school act. Shuffle Master, a company that produces specialized gaming content for casinos in "Sin City," has partnered with a local at-risk elementary school to provide supplies to students and faculty and offer mentoring and literacy services. The program was launched in memory of the late CEO of Shuffle Master, Timothy Parrott.
"Tim was passionate about Shuffle Master and its employees giving back to the community, and the Adopt-a-School concept is something he initiated months ago," current Shuffle Master CEO Phillip C. Peckman was reported saying in a press release on Market Watch. Peckman adds, "We are so pleased to positively impact the lives of over 800 children by providing time, resources and needed funds to Jack Dailey Elementary School."
One particular adopt-a-school program that is very popular across the country is the adopt-a-garden program. This program was introduced by the National Gardening Association and provides students in various schools a garden-based learning experience. According to the National Gardening Association, "There is no subject that can't be taught through plant-based education."
Adopt-a-garden programs incorporate both indoor and outdoor learning environments, where students grow their own gardens from seeds and enjoy the fruits of their harvest with fresh fruits and vegetables at the end of the gardening season. The website asserts that students who participate in gardening programs develop positive attitudes and behaviors that enhance the quality of their lives.
Adopt-a-school programs are found in nearly every community today because they have proven successful to both schools and the neighborhoods around them. If you are interested in an adopt-a-school program, look for available programs in your area through the internet. Identify the resources that would be needed, the commitment from volunteers that would be required, and the specific benefits the program would provide to your specific school environment. Once you have the necessary information, talk with school administrators about implementing a program that would benefit the students in your school and the community that surrounds it.