Building a Strong Partnership Between the Parish and School

What is working in your church and school?

Effective governance of Episcopal day schools in the parish setting is an on-going process. While parish day school governance brings challenges, it also provides unique opportunities to weave together two institutions. When there is a cooperative partnership characterized by mutual support, both are strengthened. When there is intentional, healthy communication, high levels of trust, and true collaboration, the parish and the school thrive. How can we create these conditions together? What are some practices that develop this kind of relationship between a parish and school?

In talking with leaders from many parish day school settings, I have discovered some practices that enhance the partnership.

  • One school opens each year with a joint board/vestry meeting where leaders learn about school and parish goals for the year. It is an opportunity to get to know one another and understand the annual work priorities of each partner institution.
  • Another school offers workshops where vestry and board members learn about important issues for non-profit leaders. For example, one training session offers financial education on understanding balance sheets and monitoring the annual budget, and another session focuses upon conflict of interest issues for non-profit boards. Board and vestry members thus learn and grow together.
  • A third school is proactive about areas that can lead to conflict. Each year, the classroom teacher and the Christian education teacher meet together before the new school term begins. Together they ensure that there is space reserved in the classroom for each ministry, exchange contact information in case problems arise, and most importantly, put a name to a face. It reduces the “we/they” mentality that develops when we do not know the “other.”

What are some practices that you have developed that build your parish and school partnership?