Principal - Mott Supplement - January/February 2018 - 32

Focusing on partnerships with smaller
institutions provides opportunities to tailor
the relationship closely to the needs of both
institutions and allows the formation of
close, personal connections.
last few years. SAGE brings a brightly
painted green bus called the "good food
bus" to the school each fall and presents
students with a taste-test feast of dishes
made from local produce. Students get
to choose their favorite dish and are
then brought into the bus to pick out the
ingredients for the dish. The kids take the
recipe and ingredients home after school
to share the bounty with their families. In
spring, the good food bus returns to SMS
to give students their choice of vegetable
plants, which are taken home to plant
with their families, integrating school,
after school, and home. The school buys
produce from the local farms that help
support the program in order to complete
the cycle of community support.
Miller points out, "Besides encouraging
families to get outside and eat locally,
SAGE holds an annual harvest supper to
financially support the fruits-and-vegetable
snack program and offers meal scholarships
for families that may not meet the financial
criteria for free or reduced-price meals."
Another key community partnership
at SMS is its connection with the local
library. Shrewsbury Town Library provides

32

Principal * Special Supplement * 2018

after-school and summer programs, such as
a Lego club, that are cross-advertised with
school programs. In addition, the library
maintains a "free book" box at the school
so students in the after-school and summer
programs can pick up and read a book any
time they have the opportunity. Students
can take as many books as they like. Bus
drivers also take advantage of the book box,
so students have something to do on the
long ride home. Raymond believes "this
partnership creates future engaged library
patrons and increases student and parent
dedication to maintaining the library."

Transferable Skills:
Ideas for Any School

SMS makes the most of the limited partnerships offered, but many strategies it uses are
applicable to any school.
* Focus on partnerships with smaller
institutions. A focus on smaller
partnerships allows for increasing
depth in the relationship over time and
for the ability to combine the resources
offered by multiple partnerships into a
single school goal.

* Home in on partnerships that are
aligned with the school's goals. Align
partnerships with the school's mission
instead of courting partnerships that
may offer more support but require the
school to alter the focus of its programs.
* Seek out partnerships that are hyperlocal. It may be advantageous to assess
the resources near your school and look
for partnerships that really tap into
the businesses, interests, and natural
resources for which your community is
uniquely known.
* Connect after-school and summer
programs to school-day initiatives.
Enriching themes and activities that are
already a part of the school day increases
the depth of student learning and
enthusiasm for extracurricular programs.
* Most importantly, engage students.
If young people are excited about
the opportunities the partnership
provides, it is sure to be a success. Data,
academic growth, and happier families
are all wonderful outcomes, but smiling
faces are the best way to show partners
that their work is appreciated. *
Debra Fishwick is principal of Shrewsbury
Mountain School in Cuttingsville, Vermont.
Jodie Stewart-Ruck is the dean of students
at Mill River Union High School in North
Clarendon, Vermont.



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