April 2018

Developing Community: Working with Families for Student Success

By Ben Polonowski, MA, NCC
School counselors take on many roles as advocates for students. The ability to facilitate positive outcomes within the school often requires school counselors to create positive working relationships with students’ close and extended family and friends outside of the building.
 
To help create a positive relationship with families, school counselors can consider the needs of their student population and their community expectations and norms. The needs will vary depending on what populations the counselor works with and on being responsive to unique needs that arise within the community. The goal should be to develop positive school, family, and community partnerships (Blum & Davis 2010). Examples might include hosting an open house with a community potluck or BBQ, facilitating an English language learner family night with world language classes, and creating meaningful internships and apprenticeships within the business community.
 
School counselors can also create positive relationships with agencies to help support families that could utilize their services. Often families, especially those new to the community, may be unaware of services available to them. Making families aware of these services can be a wonderful opportunity to develop a relationship with the family and to provide meaningful support for student success. Hosting these agencies during your school open house, or during parent-teacher conferences, may help provide access to services for students and families.
 
Overall, creating a community where students and families feel love and support within the school should help create an environment that is conducive to learning (Bryan & Henry, 2008). School counselors can achieve this by considering the needs of not only the students but also the families and caretakers of those students and community members that support them.
 
 
Blum, D., & Davis, T. (2010). Student development and life skills: Family felationships. The School Counselor’s BOOK OF LISTS (2nd ed., p. 242). Jossey-Bass.
 
Bryan, J., & Henry, L. (2008). Strengths-based partnerships: A school-family-community partnership approach to empowering students. Professional School Counseling, 12, 149-156.