On the third Thursday evening of each month during the school year, NewGate parents, teachers, administrators, and interested students are invited to meet together for Class and Community Meetings. This tradition offers us the opportunity to explore issues of common interest in an open community forum. Frequently, the Community Meeting will offer formal feedback and advice to the administration and Board. Parents and teachers who participate tend to gain a much deeper understanding of the school's mission, strengths,and the issues that challenge it. Many will appreciate the opportunity to have a voice in the life of the school.
Class Meetings are normally held in the classrooms, typically starting at 6:30 pm. Discussions often focus on the classroom and what they've been doing in the last month and what's coming up in the month ahead. All sorts of questions come up and are discussed.
Community Meetings offer us a meaningful opportunity to participate in the development of school programs and policy. Most members of the faculty, and administration will normally attend.
Community Meetings usually begin with all present agreeing on the topics that they would like to address. One member ofthe community will be selected to facilitate the meeting, ensuring that everyone is heard and helping the group maintain its focus. A recorder will prepare a summary of what was discussed and a list of any topics to be addressed at the next scheduled meeting.
Community Meetings are process oriented. Their value comes from personal attendance and participation. They provide a forum for the open exchange of ideas, not necessarily to produce answers or proposals. Many school-related issues cannot be addressed and resolved in a large-group problem-solving setting. In the normal course of discussion, the group may identify issues that should be addressed by the faculty, administration, or trustees. At times, they may ask the school to make a more formal presentation on a given topic of interest. Any topic that is raised during a meeting that would properly require time to prepare hand-outs and clarify information will be tabled and scheduled for the next meeting.
The focus of Community Meetings is on topics of common interest, not individual issues concerning one family, which normally cannot be discussed in a public setting.
Because the purpose of these meetings is to facilitate communication, all views will be heard and discussed. It is perfectly normal for values and perspectives to vary within the group. As members of a school community that teaches children kindness and respect, it is very important for us, as parents and teachers, to model a high level of consideration and respect for each other. No one can be allowed to dominate a meeting; it is neither appropriate nor fair to the larger group. Everyone present will be encouraged to participate and contribute; however, silence is a legitimate part of any meeting.
Finally, we should all strive to remember that we are on the same side. We share many common values and interests that brought us together. We need never see ourselves as adversaries, even if we should disagree on a given issue. Concerns and issues that need to be explored and addressed are normal in any institution. There is no such thing as a perfect school, and there will always be a need for new ideas and ongoing improvements.