Badger Rock Charter: School is more than teachers and students

Student portrait of Stephen PerezStudent portrait of Stephen PerezThe phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child,” rings true at Badger Rock. We are forging partnerships with community members in ways that are benefitting our students. Students from UW-Madison, parents, and volunteers from the community enrich the educational experience of our kids. The reasons for participation are as varied as the volunteers themselves. The mission of the school draws some: to solve community challenges through project-based learning. Others are here because they have curricular area expertise, and still some just want to help. 

The adults in and around Badger Rock add something else, too. They offer perspectives and experiences that may be different than a teacher's, and the more opinions and perspectives a student hears, the greater the depth of the students' knowledge.

What has been interesting to see is as the school year has passed, both the volunteers and the students are claiming ownership of each other. Hearing volunteers bragging about how "my kids!" have improved shows the value those relationships have in education. Seeing our students’ excitement on the days when their favorite volunteer is coming shows how much they appreciate the commitments made by others. 

When I hear conversations about schools, the two players that are most talked about are teachers and students, but there are other adults that impact students' lives, as well. Our Nurse's Assistant, Danita Williams, and Carolyn Reyes, our chef, serve as both role-models and service providers.

“The kids at Badger Rock, appreciate what we do," shared Ms. Reyes. "They say thanks, and they smile. It feels good to work here."

Leading educational researchers, such as Linda Darling-Hammond and Ronald Wilson, point to high quality teachers as being one of the key components to closing the achievement gap. Yet, I would add that at Badger Rock, the other adults that we have on campus are just as valuable as the teachers. Poverty, language acquisition, mobility, special needs, and displacement are challenges that face many of our students. With those challenges, it is imperative that our students have every resource available to them, and the folks that are on our campus are invaluable to the education of our students.