Current practices of school, family, and community partnerships in Adventist schools : a basis for a proposed program
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The importance of a partnership of the school and the family has been described in the literature of Adventist education as early as the 19th century and since then in a wealth of research reports. Adventist private schools in Germany and Austria in the 21st century claim to aim at a partnership with parents, the church, the community, and God. This descriptive study investigated the perception, nature and implementation of such partnerships at these schools. The theoretical framework of Epstein (2011), which has 6 involvement types and enriched by another involvement type cooperation for the Christian formation of students which I added based on biblical principles and the writings of White (1923, 1941, 1952), was used for this study. A survey conducted in 8 Adventist elementary schools in Germany and Austria revealed the already high motivation on the side of teachers as well as of parents for such partnerships. This high motivation led to the formation of informal partnerships among parents and teachers. Parents showed an interest in the students’ learning and well-being and were willing to volunteer and support the school in various ways. Several partnership practices had already naturally emerged such as regular communication, volunteer involvement, and worship services in cooperation with the local church. However, partnership activities were not purposely planned or guided. Limited resources, particularly time constraints, seemed to challenge the partnership process at these schools. The results on the involvement type cooperation for the Christian formation of students were particularly high. One of the areas of partnership that were not yet developed to their full potential was the involvement type learning at home. In this program, a field-wide cooperation of schools is suggested. Already existing as well as new practices for partnership are incorporated for yearly implementation and evaluation. Suggested features of the partnership program include holding regular parent meetings to discuss parenting topics, giving regular interactive homework (Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork) that integrates faith and learning, and involving parent representatives in the partnership process. An implementation phase of 3 years is suggested and described in this study. Among the recommendations for these schools are a field-wide interschool cooperation, a continuation of the spiritual emphasis of the curriculum, the development of interactive homework, and the development of parent networks.
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