Community Partnership through Dialogues  

By Claudia Plesa, Alaska ICE Community Engagement Educator and Coordinator

At the March Fly-In, Lisa Worl and I were lucky enough to co-host a workshop on community engagement and dialogues.  This was an opportunity for school board members to come together and discuss why community engagement matters, and what role community dialogues can play in deepening community partnerships and how districts are using dialogues to help develop a stronger school community.  

What helps students succeed in school?

We started our discussion by asking a simple question: “What helped you succeed in school?”  For me, and for many school board members, success came from support provided from inside AND outside of school! These supports come from family, Elders, caring adults and peers.  For some families and communities impacted by historical trauma and education, the first step is to rebuild trust and connection.  This can be done through community dialogues and discussion.  These conversations open the door for families to provide insight, get to know school staff, and partner in supporting student learning and life goals.   

How can community dialogues help?

A strong connection between the community and the school can help students be successful in school and gain skills to be successful as community members.  These connections can be built through community dialogues between the school board, school and district staff and the community. AASB staff assists in developing a community approved dialogue flow, and in facilitating and following up from the conversations to create action plans.  Using key strategies from First Alaskans Alaska Institute’s Native Dialogues on Racial Equity (Andore), dialogues can be powerful tools to engage with the community, and work together to meet school, community and student needs. 

Lower Kuskokwim School District Dialogues: Goodnews Bay and Bethel

In April of 2022, AASB staff facilitated two community dialogues focused on deepening connection between school and families in Goodnews Bay and Bethel.  Families gathered together to provide feedback on how the school staff and families can better connect and support each other.  Dialogue questions and protocols were developed with district and community partners, and families.  Both dialogues were well attended and successful in gathering meaningful input from families on how to best meet the needs of their students. 

What are takeaways from dialogues?

Below are some ideas brought forward by the community on how to better partner to support learning at school and at home.

Who can help?

Click here to access the presentation slide deck, or reach out Claudia Plesa to find out how Alaska Conditions for Learning Team can support community dialogues in your district.