Adoption 180: Guidelines for School Adoption and Partnership

05.26.15 | Young Peoples Ministry, Wellness and Missions | by Andrea King

    By Rev.  Andrea M. King 

    Creating a partnership with a local school is one of the most effective forms of community outreach. If you're getting started, consider the following:

    • The ministry of each church to each child begins with the church being in relationship with the community. The average public school operates on a 180-day schedule. During the course of that time period, administrators, staff, and especially teachers are heavily burdened to provide rigorous educational instruction to the majority of America’s children. While school provides 180 days of instruction, home and community places like churches also play a vital role in providing educational support for children. Working in partnership with community schools, churches can make an important difference in the lives and futures of children.
    • Survey the geographical area surrounding the church. Drive or walk around the neighborhood to see who and where your neighbors are. You may discover that people and buildings that you had not notice previously.
    • Research the schools within a specified radius. For example, consider schools within a 1 mile radius if the church is located within a dense metropolitan area. If the church is more suburban or urban, the radius needs to be increased substantially. Our Bishop is advocating that each church form a partnership with a school in its zip code. Depending on your location, you may need to go beyond your postal zip code.
    • Initiate contact with the chief administrator of the school. The chief administrator is usually the “principal,” who can tell you who the person is at the school that serves as the point of contact for community involvement, outreach, and resourcing. Sometimes that person is the chief administrator (or principal). Even in instances where that is not the case, the chief administrator needs to be aware of who you are and what you would like to do to help.
    • Make an appointment to visit the chief administrator and/or community outreach person to personally introduce yourself (yourselves) face-to-face, if you do not already have a pre-existing relationship with the school.
    • Inquire as to what the needs of the school are, and listen to what the school says is the need at the school. Simply asking, "How might we be of help?" and listening deeply to the answer, goes a long way in assessing needs.
    • Refrain from having a pre-set agenda. What you may want to offer and what the school may need may not necessarily be the same things. Express that your church or group has a willingness to help in a mutually agreeable manner.
    • Take inventory (before and after your meeting with the chief administrator) to see what resources you can readily supply and what areas of need may require training or long-term strategic planning. Click here for a list
    • Match the needs of the school with the availability of the resources you have to offer (or can be trained for).
    • Don’t try to eat the whole elephant (take one bite at a time). Taking on the responsibility of resourcing an entire school is not necessarily the call of one church. If the need is substantial, the efforts of a cluster of churches may be more effective than a stand-alone congregation.
    • Work in partnership with community entities to serve the common good of the neighborhood schools. Include other faith groups, businesses, and neighbors as they are willing and available.
    • Adopt wisely. If your church cannot adopt an entire school, adopt a department within the school, or adopt a class, etc. for 180 days. Whatever you commit to do does not necessarily have to be every day of the 180 days; however, the school, students, and teachers need to know that you will consistently offer support throughout the course of the school year.
    • Keep your commitment. If you commit to support the school/class every Tuesday, then be there every Tuesday. If you commit to support the school/class twice a month, be there twice a month. If a four person team commits that one person from the team will be at the school/class each week, be there each week.
    • Become a Prayer Guardian. If nothing else, you can commit to pray for the administrators, teachers, staff, students and families of a local school. Pray individually or pray with a group (as long as all the days of the school year are covered in prayer).

    A 180-day commitment can make 180 degrees of difference in the life of a child.