We all share so much with our PLN and learn an equal if not great amount from our work together. This week I was recounting a few to do’s to a small but mighty group on Voxer and their responses inspired this post. Thanks #strataproblems, you make me a better principal.
It’s pretty simple. I write a letter to our school neighbors at the end of summer. It was my second year as a principal when I decided to start this annual tradition. If you live near an elementary school, you know it can be a blessing and a burden. Traffic, bells, basketball courts to play on, fields to play ball, and more traffic. I wanted to open a conversation and give thanks. Our neighbors are our allies, keeping an eye on the campus, looking out for the space and even our students as they come and go.
I didn’t hear back from many neighbors but the ones who did engage were lovely, supportive and appreciative. When I moved school sites last year, the letter didn’t go out. No good excuses, just a fact. So I’m back in the saddle this year. It’s ready for mailing.
One question that’s come up is addresses. Two ways I’ve done that: Zillow and Google Maps. Every school site is different and what defines neighbor really depends on how wide the impact of campus activity is for you. This year I’ve included a nearby church whereas at my former school, the entire mailing list was residential. My colleague, Amy Fadeji, wondered about her school as it is quite rural with few homes nearby. I think a neighbor letter is even more important in this instance. You have fewer potential stewards of the school so best to get them all engaged and understanding their value to the campus and community. I say, Go for it!
Here are two samples of my letter. You’re welcome to grab whatever works for you and your school community! Building relationships, one neighbor at a time.