Many school districts have added the position of director of community relations to their staff over the last decade. Not surprisingly, school is a microcosm of what is happening in the world around us. All the problems we face on a daily basis at school with our children.
Community relations positions address school issues such as drugs, social media, bullying, COVID, LGBTQ issues, mental health concerns, teenage suicide, and those who challenge the authority of teachers and managers. It’s important. Never before.
A local school district added these words to the title of Community Relations Director: Awareness of Fairness. Dr. Brett Cooper came to the Daniel Boone Regional School District as a director in 2019, bringing from schools in the Boyertown area the hateful mantras and ideals that the Boyertown area has been implementing for many years.
Daniel Boone experienced the process and training required for certification at No Place For Hate during the 2019-20 academic year. During this period, Daniel Boone’s head football coach, Rob Flowers, was hired to serve as director of Community Relations and Equity Awareness. Hana already had a strong relationship with many students, so his new role was easily communicated to him. His career includes several positions in the Reading School District, including head football coaches, home and school visitors. He has worked at Alternative Schools as a Behavior Manager and Crisis Manager Trainer, and as a Director of Alternative Education Schools. He believes in treating all people with a high level of respect.
Following Dr. Cooper’s vision, Flowers combined mission and equity issues to create a positive district culture. He works on regular social media posts. Daily communication with staff, students and parents. Attend monthly newsletters and staff meetings at all schools.
Like Dr. Cooper, he regularly walks around the building and talks to staff and students. Flowers are in grades 7-12, discussing diversity and becoming the bridge he is trying to build among ethnic, gender and socio-economic groups. The district also hosts a week of tenderness and a day of tenderness that is directly linked to diversity.
In October 2020, Flowers launched Zoom’s equity roundtable, which is held once a month. Students, staff, parents, community members, and anyone else can participate in monthly discussions on specific topics. People can argue, disagree, and add their views, but there are basic rules to keep fair discussions out of control. There is also the Berks County Stock Commission, which meets quarterly through the Berks County Intermediate Unit. There is one representative from each school district in Berks County, and the facilitators are Berks IU and Dr. Christina Fall of Flowers. Both of these venues are built to bridge the understanding between the diverse groups and thinking processes that are urgently needed in our fragmented world.
Daniel Boone supports Unity Days every year at all schools. This year, I fell in high school on Thursday, March 17th. This day covers many themes that lead to the recognition of fairness. As an observer and participant of the day, I saw the entire gymnasium filled with students of many ethnicities, disabilities and genders, and educators working in small groups with these students. Thom Stecher and Associates facilitated the significant work accomplished on this particular day. “People don’t like close-ups,” Stecher observed.
Dr. Cooper told me that when he graduated from Daniel Boone and returned as a director many years later, he heard the same comments he heard when he grew up in the district 35 years ago. The other side of the river. Why are you hanging out with them? “
He vows to transform the district’s culture and thinking process into one of inclusiveness, and with the help of Flowers and many staff, he is making a brave effort to do so. Daniel Boone is not a wealthy school district and, in fact, has less resources than many of the neighboring schools. However, the district does a great job of making all students feel welcome, resilient and supportive.
This world does not need any further division. Wake up and notice that we are all similar rather than different.
Dr. Myra Forrest is a former teacher and administrator. She was the director of the Owen J. Roberts School District and the Managing Director of the Pottstown Education Foundation. She is currently an education advocate for the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.
A school district that connects community and awareness of fairness
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