Psychologists and therapists have long said that the only person we can change is our own self. Programs have been created and books have been written about the merits of introspection. The Catholic Church calls this “Examining one’s conscience.” I would hazard to say that some do not participate in the practice because they may not like what they find.

But our schools are another matter.  We are proud of our schools, of our children’s achievements, and of our teachers’ dedication.  When parents are asked why their child is in a Catholic, Christian, or other faith-based school, they can list quite a few reasons why they put their time, talent and treasure to work supporting the school.

I would also hazard to guess that there are quite a few parents who own their own businesses selling products or providing services, and provide those products or services to the school at a reduced or, sometimes, no cost.  Business people can always use more business, too, especially in difficult economic times.

As we count down the days to welcoming our students to our schools for another year (and for those that have already started, before it get too late into the school year), take an inside look at the people who make up your school community, and create a School Services Directory.  Make a list of all those parents that have businesses that provide a specific service to your school (and, in the spirit of being proactive, even those that don’t).  You can send it home at the start of the school year with every child to so that parents can help other parents.  Names, business addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.  You may think you’d need to have permission, but if it’s a business that provides services to the public, this is “business” information and it’s readily available.  Don’t share personal information – unless you have permission to do so.

From 2003 through 2011, my wife and I were “band parents,” with two children that went through the local high school band program.  During our tenure, we discovered that another band parent was a service technician at the local Toyota dealer. Even though we didn’t drive a Toyota, we could still take our car to that dealership for service. Even though several repair facilities were closer to home, taking our business there helped keep people that we care about in business, and helped to create a relationship with the dealership.

As parents, we’re usually so busy focusing on our children that we often miss the strengths that are within the community formed by our school’s parents. The Acts of the Apostles tells us “The community of believers was of one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32). Our schools are indeed a community of believers, especially believing in the school.  As a member of the school’s leadership, you must facilitate the building of that community.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2006-2021 (Original Publication Date: 20060814)