The current state of education has created unique opportunities for churches to become involved: schools are faced with financial shortages, not enough teachers, low morale from teachers and staff who feel unsupported, and a need for more up-to-date resources and equipment. While the needs are greater than any one church can fulfill, being supportive of a local school impacts how our children are taught, nurtured, and cared for by people in our school system and provides multiple opportunities to show the love of Christ.
To begin the adopting process, connect with the school principal or counselor by setting up a meeting in person. These professionals have a busy schedule, so explain who you are, what church you are from, and why you want to meet: “We want to discover the needs in your school our church can meet.” This will give the person time to think about specific needs and remove any barriers that the individual has about working with a church.
Think of yourself as missionaries to your local school. Learning about their needs is priority. Rather than approaching with a suggestion of how you want to help, ask them to tell you how they most need help. Then, make it easy on the school as you meet the needs your church is equipped to meet.
Below are some ideas and ways other churches have been involved with their local schools. Remember—these are only ideas. The needs in your local school may be different. Listen carefully and only offer these suggestions if needed.
- Develop a prayer partnership where members of the church commit to pray specifically for an employee and regularly drop a note of encouragement.
- Provide a meal for the employees during the staff development days prior to the school year.
- Provide Sonic drinks, or another treat, for employees during Teacher Appreciation Week (or any other time). Or a Sonic gift card will allow the employee to choose their favorite item.
- Stock the teachers’ lounge with soft drinks and snacks.
- Host a Block Party at the school’s Open House or other event when students meet teachers, get their schedules, etc.
- Feed sports teams before and/or after competitions
- Provide food or snacks during summer camps (band camp, football camp, etc.)
- Collect school supplies to donate to the school, or fill backpacks with school supplies to give to students identified by the school- or to each child in the school. Another option is to host a backpack giveaway to all kids in a certain grade, repeating this each year to ensure all kids in the school get a backpack during their time at the school.
- Supply weekend food bags for children who receive free/reduced lunch during the week or other students identified by the school.
- Provide bags of basic hygiene items the school nurse can share with students who need them.
- Organize a coat drive prior to winter weather.
- Volunteer to help with big events at the school.
- Ask individuals, or groups, to adopt a classroom where they develop a relationship with that teacher and help with specific needs, such as assisting in holiday class parties.
- Assist the maintenance department in flower bed work, sprucing up the playground, painting, or any other area where the staff does not have the manpower to keep up with the needs.
- Ask about students who have an unpaid balance in the school cafeteria, then collect funds to pay toward the debt.
- Wash school buses and clean the inside, then leave a note and small gift (bag of candy, soft drink, etc.) in the driver’s seat.
- Academic mentoring, especially with reading and math, during or after school.
- Collect uniforms for students.
- Provide Christmas gifts for students identified by the school.
- Volunteer to read to lower elementary students.
- Give an hour a week to listen to a student read.
- Assist in the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up process. Volunteer for safety patrol at school crossings who walk to school.
- Mentor students identified as at-risk students who can benefit from regular one-to-one relationships.
- Provide chaperons for events such as prom or a field day.
- Volunteer to present on your career in classrooms or on career days.
- Begin an after-school tutoring ministry.
- Offer ESL classes for non-English speaking students and/or parents.
- Host a free Medical-Dental Clinic for your community and provide promotional information to the school.
- Paint an accent wall in classrooms. Paint murals in the hallways.
- Spruce up the teachers’ lounge with fresh paint, new furnishings, etc.
- Stock the teachers’ lounge refrigerator with drinks and snacks.
- Provide funding for the Book Fair for low-income students.
- “Grandparent for a day” volunteers to attend Grandparents Day at the school for students without a grandparent attending.