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Partners as Co-educators

Page history last edited by Andrew 12 years, 2 months ago

Background and Purpose | Benchmarks or Guidelines | Examples of Excellence and Innovation | Campus Examples and Resources | Action Steps


Background and Purpose 

As you know from the main descriptions of the Bonner Foundation and program’s philosophy about community partnerships, the Bonner Program brings campus and community leaders together on equal footing to forge a new vision of what campus and community partnerships can achieve. This supports our community development goal to have campuses, students, and community partners address needs and mobilize assets in building stronger, healthier communities. The spirit of collaboration ensures a channel of communication in order to more effectively respond to the evolving needs of the community and help close the often prevalent (e.g., town-gown) or historical divide between campus and community.


The Bonner Program emphasizes the quality and investment of relationship that can happen when students and their campus make long term, meaningful commitments to the community. In turn, we invite community partners to enter into and maintain a sustained relationship with our on-campus programs. As part of this, we aim to engage partner agencies, including their leadership and staff, in playing the role of an active co-educator of Bonner students. In practice, we know from our Student Impact Survey and from the stories that Bonner students and alumni share with us that it is often through the service experience that the most meaningful and not easily forgotten lessons, skills, and knowledge is gained. To build on this, we aim to intentionally invite our partners to be involved in the educational mission in a more intentional way.


Benchmarks or Guidelines

In this area, there are a few simple guidelines and benchmarks that can make a significant difference.

  • Formally share the Bonner Program’s developmental model and your own campus’s educational goals with partners in an intentional way. Discuss with partners how they might utilize this information in shaping the students’ placements and roles in their agencies or programs. Discuss with partners how their own educational philosophies and intended outcomes, if they have them, mesh with the Bonner model.

  • Use the resources available to you to make this sharing of information easier. Check out the Introducing Bonner to Community Partners page for information intended to introduce Bonner to community organizations.

  • Provide an avenue through which community voice can shape the implementation of student development in your program. For example, you may consider the following to start your thinking:

  • o Invite the partner to be involved in an All Bonner Orientation, Retreat, Meeting or other event to share information and knowledge.

    o Invite the partner to present to your class (if you are faculty) or connect with a faculty member to speak in a course setting.

    o Gather information from partners about topics that they would be willing and able to provide training on, at the site only, for a class of Bonners, or for the entire Bonner Program.

    o Encourage a partner to help articulate an agenda for research or shape the project for a community-based research course or CBR initiative.

    o Gather information from partners about what skills and topics they would like to see students trained in, before and during their ongoing work with the agency. Share your developmental roadmap and training calendar with partners, and get their feedback.

  • Have an advisory board of community partner agency staff and stakeholders.


Examples of Excellence & Innovation

  • Partner Orientation/Retreat: An example of excellence for providing information to partners about the Bonner model and program is to have a partner orientation or retreat. Berea College is an example of a campus that has done this.

  • Engaging Partners in Academic Readings: Another excellent example of truly engaging the partner as a co-educator was adopted at Mars Hill. There Bonner Program staff invited partner organization leaders (supervisors) to read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and other core readings from a required general education course. Partners were asked to discuss the reading with the students. This effort was a great success, both in engaging students in applying the concepts from this reading to their own work in the community and also in re-energizing partners in their roles both as educators and as nonprofit leaders. At Mars Hill, this was part of broader effort at making service-learning and academic connections, part of an initiative for which the campus received grant support from Learn & Serve America. See Mars Hills' Lifeworks Handout for help thinking through these connections:   MarsHillPartnerCoEducators.doc  


Campus Examples and Resources

Talk to:

  • Mars Hill College — process for engaging partners as co-educators through academic readings and the creation of videos regarding training:  MarsHillPartnerCoEducators.doc

  • Emory & Henry — process for inviting the voices of community partners into a communication structure that addresses issues of concern to the community

  • Guilford College — process for meeting with partners to sketch out shared goals. See Community Partner flier with goals.



Action Steps to Get This Started

  1. Identify partners with whom you are ready to engage in this way.

  2. Formally provide materials and information in person (meetings, Orientation) or in writing (binder, letters, etc.)

  3. Determine 1-2 strategies to incorporate community voice into your developmental model for this year.

  4. Identify a few innovations that you want to pursue and a strategy for each (e.g., meeting with a faculty member, convening faculty member and partner representative, identifying a student leader) for this year.


Back to Community Partnerships Implementation Guide Index.

Back to Implementation Guide Index.




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