Community is Key to Saving Schools


While not a new concept, the importance of building a sense of community within school districts has never been more apparent, especially in the wake of the pandemic. In a recent survey by the Education Advisory Board, 80% of superintendents reported that student behavior has worsened over the last four years, and 74% reported that parent communication has become more disrespectful. 

Dr. Joe Phillips, Broward County Public Schools’ (FL) Chief Information Officer, and Sam Chaudhary, CEO of ClassDojo, got into the weeds in person last month on this topic at a CoSN session and were gracious enough to follow up with me via Zoom. In this conversation, they explore how leaders can leverage technology to foster close-knit, supportive relationships among teachers, children, and families.

Joe emphasizes a need to shift back to community-based education, where schools are not viewed as separate entities but integral parts of larger communities. He stresses the importance of parent engagement and collaboration in bridging the gap between home and school life, ultimately fostering a supportive student environment. Sam speaks to the evolution of Class Dojo from a grassroots initiative to a district-wide community-building tool. He details the platform’s focus on intimacy, trust, and real-time communication among teachers, parents, and students, contrasting it with broader social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter (I refuse to use the letter) that often exacerbate divisions.

Both envision a future where technology complements rather than replaces human interaction in education. They foresee a hybrid model where technology facilitates communication and collaboration while preserving the invaluable benefits of face-to-face engagement. Despite the challenges, they remain optimistic about the potential for unified efforts rooted in a shared commitment to children’s education. I found this to be a powerful conversation and I hope you find it insightful.

Kevin Hogan
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