• In Leander ISD, Community Engagement Goes Hand-in-Hand with Student Learning

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    Leander ISD has a long, rich history of inviting parents and community members into our schools to better meet our students’ educational needs. Thirty years ago, when our volunteer program first began, LISD leaders had no idea that the future of our school system would be so positively transformed by the many dedicated parents and community members who selflessly give of their time in support of public education. Today, with almost one volunteer for every three students, it’s hard to imagine what our district would be like without the efforts of our 13,000+ volunteers.

    The purpose of getting more parents and community members engaged in our schools is to enrich the quality of education we offer. And for three decades, LISD has seen this enrichment take shape through the countless ways parents and community members deepen our students’ experiences. They help students make real world connections between what they learn in school and life. They help impress upon students the value the community puts in education. They give of their time to invest in our students’ academic and life-long success. They provide valuable insight to help guide the district’s continuous improvement efforts. They free up teachers’ time by offering a helping hand. They provide extra sets of eyes in our schools and help safeguard our students’ wellbeing. The list goes on and on. Yet, regardless of how they serve, there is no doubt that our schools are stronger because of our volunteers.

    Before one can begin volunteering in LISD, an individual must be at least 18 years of age, complete the online volunteer application and be cleared through a criminal record check. The application process allows volunteers to select areas that match their interests or skills, areas such as serving in the library or front office; serving on the PTA or booster clubs; or interacting with students as a tutor, Literacy Partner or Watch D.O.G.S., etc.  If you want to get involved, but you are limited to how much time you can commit to volunteer at a campus, you can select to just volunteer for special events such as carnivals and festivals, Thanksgiving luncheons and book fairs. There are countless ways to serve our students and our schools as a volunteer.

    One of the most beneficial programs open to approved volunteers is the district’s HEROES Mentoring program. Our HEROES Mentors are approved LISD volunteers who attend a mentor training session and commit to spend 30 minutes each week with their assigned student. This is an incredibly rewarding way to give back to students who may benefit from the additional support a mentor provides. This program can literally change lives.  As our student population continues to grow, so does the need for more mentors and so the district recruits and trains additional mentors throughout the year. 

    Leadership Leander ISD is another opportunity for parents and community members to get an inside look at the goals, operations and culture of Leander ISD. This program is part of the district’s tradition to remain transparent and engaged with our community, allowing community leaders and business partners the ability to get an “up-close and personal” look at district operations. Leadership LISD participants interactively explore first-hand how it all works and offer insightful feedback that supports LISD’s continuous improvement efforts. The Leadership class meets once a month (usually the second Thursday) in September through May at various locations throughout the district. The generous support from our district and the local business community has allowed this class to be offered at no cost to participants. Although the Leadership LISD Class of 2015 is already full, we are currently taking nominations for next year’s class.

    The business community can support the district through LISD’s marketing and advertising opportunities, as well. LISD has several avenues for businesses to support the district, such as the Staff Perks program and advertising through the LISD athletics programs, in Wednesday folders and other district collateral. In addition, the district welcomes businesses and organizations that wish to sponsor activities and events throughout the year, including Leadership LISD.

    With limited financial resources, increased state assessment standards and the continuing need to fully prepare all students for post-graduation success, parent and community involvement in schools is more important than ever. If you are interested in getting involved with the district, I encourage you to visit www.leanderisd.org and select the community tab and find an avenue that suits your interests and skills. There are so many ways to get involved and support learning in LISD.

    Bret A. Champion,

    Superintendent of Schools

    Leander ISD

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