As a public charter school, community engagement is a vital component to the success of Cedars International Academy. The active involvement of our stakeholders (such as parents, teachers, students, local businesses, nonprofits, and civic organizations) helps shape our educational processes and our schools' culture.
Our experiences have shown community engagement has many benefits for our students, such as:
- Improving academic outcomes: Active community involvement enhances student learning and achievement by providing more resources, support, and opportunities for students. Community partners can offer mentoring, tutoring, internships, scholarships, and enrichment programs to help students develop their skills and interests. Community engagement also fosters a positive school climate and culture, promoting high expectations, motivation, and engagement.
Enriching learning experiences: Community engagement enriches the learning experiences of our students by providing them with real-world contexts for their projects, authentic audiences, and meaningful opportunities, which enhance their critical thinking skills.
- Enhancing social and emotional development: Community engagement also supports students' social and emotional well-being by creating a sense of belonging, identity, and purpose. Our students learn from the diverse perspectives and experiences of community members, developing empathy, respect, and civic responsibility. When needed, community engagement can also help students cope with challenges and stress by providing access to social services, counseling, and peer support.
- Strengthening school-community relationships: We have found community engagement builds trust, communication, and collaboration. We have greatly benefited from the feedback, input, and advocacy of community members who have helped identify needs, priorities, and solutions for our students, and we believe it is important for this relationship to be reciprocal. Cedars International Academy seeks to benefit our communities with the contributions, resources, and talents of our staff and students, who can help address local issues and needs in meaningful ways.
Enhancing teacher effectiveness: We know teachers who have strong relationships with their colleagues, students, and parents are more likely to feel satisfied with their work and stay in their profession. They also have access to more resources, feedback, and support from community partners, and can utilize those relationships in designing authentic projects that facilitate student learning.
- Increasing parent involvement: We have seen that parents who are engaged in their children's education and school activities are more likely to support student learning at home and better advocate for their needs. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concludes that parent engagement in schools is closely linked to better student behavior, higher academic achievement, and enhanced social skills. We couldn't agree more.
We at Cedars International Academy know community engagement is not a one-time event or a one-way transaction. It is an ongoing process that requires mutual commitment, respect, and partnership between our schools and communities. By engaging in community engagement activities, we create a more supportive, inclusive, and enriching learning environment for our learners and a more vibrant, connected, and resilient community for all.