Written by Michael Yang UBC Teacher Candidate placed at Byrne Creek for a 3 week Community Field Experience.
What does community look like in a school?
In my enriching and all-too short 3 weeks at Byrne Creek, I stepped into something that I am still trying to make sense of. I was able to witness and participate in a variety of wonderful activities that centred on building community. It is important to know that Byrne Creek is a designated community school. One definition of community schools is that they are:
“a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. It has an integrated focus on academics, youth development, family support, health and social services, and community development.”
I definitely saw these things happening at Byrne. Yet I never thought to myself:
“wow, this is some great health and social services being provided…”
or, I never found myself saying:
that is a good example of an integrated focus of youth development through that set partner…”
Instead, again and again, with all sorts of people and throughout Byrne and the larger community––I saw people that shared their care, compassion, openness, frustrations, and laughter with one another. In summary, I saw connection.
Through these connections, I experienced and observed great collaboration. I saw students stepping up and beyond themselves to serve other students and their community. I saw teachers opening up and serving their students’needs. I saw administrators and other staff putting in the time and effort to make the community thrive. I saw caring parents who actively tried to connect with and make Byrne better. I saw genuine collaboration between Byrne and its partners in running after school activities, feeding programs, elementary-secondary transition gatherings, clothing and food drives, beautiful art projects––and so much more.
All this collaboration eventually led to a celebration.
A celebration of the successes, and even a celebration of the failures (we often learn most reflecting on our mistakes eh?) of these collaborative efforts.
And this is my biggest take-away from my time at Byrne:
Community is not a word or idea to throw around––but it is a story to step into, to see, to experience, and to share.
Byrne Creek is a story about all this connectivity, collaboration, and celebration happening in vibrant and exuberant ways––and also in mellow and mundane ways.
And therefore the question regarding “community”in schools can never be removed from this idea of a narrative that we are trying to tell about our students, our schools, and our neighbourhoods.
Learning how the story unfolded so far, learning how to tell this story, learning how to imagine where it can go, and learning how to be a part of it all––that’s a lesson I saw lived out and experienced here at Byrne. That’s the story I was able to be a part of. That is community