What is Community Education?
Community education, the educational philosophy that underlies community schools, advocates the creation of opportunities for community members - individuals, schools, businesses, and public and private organizations - to become partners in addressing community needs. Community education is most easily recognized in the community school, for the purpose of providing academic, recreation, health, social service, and work-preparation programs for people of all ages.
Community education is a powerful concept that acknowledges learning is dynamic and changing, occurs in many forms, and is a lifelong requirement for human development. It is a way of thinking about and organizing public schools for individual and community development.
Community Education in Cumberland County encompasses five components:
- Expanded utilization of school facilities
Community schools serve the entire community. The school's facilities are utilized by people of all ages and at all times of the day, week, and year. The school becomes the center of learning for the community and provides an array of programs and services. A fully-functioning community school is one where the school is the community and the community is the school.
- Lifelong learning opportunities
Learning begins at birth and is lifelong. As the basic education agency of the community, public schools respond to both the formal and informal educational needs and
desires of all age groups in the community.
- Volunteer programs
Whether it is a parent or other family member, a senior citizen or a young professional, volunteers enhance the learning experience of a child. Both tutoring and mentoring are examples of effective volunteer initiatives. Research demonstrates that when parents and other community members are engaged in educating students, the schools are better and student performance tends to improve.
- Learning through service
Learning through service is a form of curriculum-based, experiential education that engages students in real-life experiences that address issues and needs of the community. The community becomes the classroom, enabling students to integrate academic knowledge and critical thinking skills with real-life issues. Students have an opportunity to become resources and respected leaders in their communities.
Successful collaboration is dependent upon intentional, well-facilitated coordination. Community Education Directors assume responsibility for ensuring that continued progress is made in resolving school and community issues. Internally, Community Educators serve in many capacities with other school-based initiatives, i.e. Family Resource/Youth Services Centers, dropout prevention, drug, alcohol, and pregnancy intervention programs, school safety, after school programs, and others. Externally, Community Education provides linkage with business and industry, community agencies and organizations, and individuals to resolve community and school issues.