How Can Schools Connect With Students?

How Can High-Poverty Schools Connect With Students? link

(By William Parrett and Kathleen Budge)

This is one of the single best articles on successful schools I’ve read in years.  That is, how schools can help each and every student be successful.  That is, how the teachers and staff at a school help each and every student be successful.  This article could have been written 40 years ago!  The principles described for making students successful are timeless and apply to all children.  (They are acutely more important for students in poverty, but should be present in all schools.)  The principles described are foundational to the education process and are based on human nature.

Too often education looks to a new curriculum or new piece of technology to solve our problems. (I’m all for good curriculum and technology.)  However, the four cornerstones laid out by the authors of Caring Relationships, Supporting Students, Learning Environments, and Participation in Extracurricular Activities must be present before any curriculum or technology can work.

Repeatedly throughout the article it describes what the teachers (adults) are doing with the students and what the students are doing with each other. The bottom line is caring relationships.

Personally, I have seen the power of these four foundational principle at the school I taught at in Nebraska and in Macomb.  I thankful.

Having said this, we must realize that this is not an easy or quick fix. It requires a huge amount of effort by adults, time, and resources. However, children are the future. They are worth it.


The four sections of the article are:

  • The Power of Caring Relationships
  • Supporting Students Through Advisory Programs
  • Create Smaller Learning Environments
  • Encourage Participation in Extracurricular Activities


Here are many of the important concepts discussed in the article:

  • Schools Connect With Students,
  • Safety and security while at school,
  • The Power of Caring Relationships,
  • Build a bond between students and school,
  • Agree as a faculty,
  • Timely,
  • Atmosphere of sincere support for the students’ well-being and academic success,
  • Homework,
  • Support,
  • Small learning communities,
  • Smaller learning environments,
  • Students connected with each other,
  • Authentically connect students with adults,
  • Ensure that their students living in poverty will be able to participate in extracurricular activities,
  • The importance of such participation to the creation of a bond between students and school has long been known,
  • Partnering with community-based entities,
  • The benefits of extracurricular participation.