Marketing and Regulatory Programs
What do you do after you've launched your partnership? How do you determine your partnership's wellness state? Here's some advice for you and the school on how to keep your partnership healthy.
It is not the size of the school or the number of participants that counts ~ some of the best partnerships are small. Good partnerships occur when the volunteer and the teacher are willing and able to work on the same projects together and reinforce each other's efforts. A healthy partnership needs mutual commitment and genuine interest.
The goals must be clearly stated and mutually beneficial. The school should know what they are giving and receiving. The Agency should understand and be dedicated to their expected level of long-term commitment and understand that "Flash in the pan" involvement will not build a successful partnership.
First, determine clear partnership goals. Spell out what the school is trying to do, and how the APHIS volunteer(s) can help meet those goals. When goals are vague, both sides can become frustrated.
Second, have periodic meetings with the school to assess that both school and Agency are indeed working on the same path together. This way they can measure their joint progress toward reaching the mutual goal.
Third, schools should make sure parents of students, as well as other teachers, know who is involved in the partnership and what it entails. Recognizing and appreciating a volunteer's contribution is an important factor for a healthy relationship.
The first year is a "warm fuzzy," where everyone is happy to be working together. By the second year, reality sets in and everyone realizes that it's hard work. Agency employees often get frustrated with the slow process of educating kids, and not being able to measure the results quickly. As opposed to the bottom line of a business, the impact of this type of partnership may be hard to measure. All parties must realize that measurable signs of progress and success might not be recognizable and must be willing to look for other evidence. It is extremely beneficial if the school provides the Agency with all possible feedback, so the program's successes can be highlighted and continued employee involvement approved.
First, find out what happened. Perhaps the players have changed. Work quickly with the new person to make sure the interest is there. Discuss the mutual advantages of the partnership. Always stay focused on the student(s) and his/her needs.
Second, offer solutions based on experience and feedback. Come to a mutual agreement on a solution and a plan of action to improve the relationship.
The teacher has to buy in. It is the teacher's responsibility to make sure the hour spent with the volunteer is time well spent. It is also the teacher's role to encourage completing homework involved in the partnership. The volunteer must also do everything within his/her power to support the teacher's efforts and enforce what is being taught in the classroom.
It is important that each volunteer manages his/her time, taking travel schedules and resources into account; always plan accordingly.
Last Modified: April 4, 2012