While reflecting on the meaning of TRUE Partnership, I immediately thought of our partnership with Verde Elementary School in West Contra Costa Unified School District. We are currently in our 4th year of partnership with Verde and it has been an inspiring journey to witness and be a part of. After starting out with just 1 UE Coach, our staff has grown to include 1 UE Coach, 1 Clinician, and 3 Student Support Assistants thanks to a truly blended funding model consisting of school site funds, district home office funds, Medi-Cal funds, and foundation grants. There are many things that made, and continues to make, this partnership so successful. I wanted to highlight a couple tips and share a shining example of a beautiful way the partnership was celebrated.
- When the partnership first started, we made sure there was an alignment of values and goals with the home office team and the school site administrators to ensure a strong connection on all levels. This is revisited formally twice a year to hammer out the details of partnership by defining the structure, outlining what the partnership should accomplish, and understanding what constitutes each partner’s domain to help eliminate confusion for both partners.
- One reason we stand out in the services we provide is evident in how we consider the schools we work with as partners and not just “contractors” coming in to provide a service. Instead we embed ourselves into the school communities we work with; we’re teammates! And, as with any good team, clear and well-defined roles should be established in effort to avoid possible confusion or misunderstandings. To make the partnership as valuable as it can be, it should be about learning, growing, benefiting from each other's knowledge and experience while also celebrating one another’s successes.
- Remember, we’re not just pooling resources; we’re also combining our abilities to scale and create sustainable systems to build capacity of the other adults on campus. Flexibility and extensibility are key, as extensibility is a vital element in any partnership because both our collective ability to extend resources can mean freedom for staff to innovate new ideas and ways in which they can best support the staff, students and families we are privileged to serve. A valuable partnership should be capable of sharing resources and adapting over time.
- We were able to establish a successful partnership, ensuring it had the ability to grow through honesty and transparency about the services we could provide. That meant maintaining open and frequent communication as well as personal interaction as often as possible.