In the New Albany community, the future of American society is envisioned as one in which schools collaborate with other social and political entities to create a quality community that recognizes its joint responsibility in educating all people. Accomplishing this task requires collaboration among community residents, parents, teachers, village council, township trustees, business, and community organizations, far exceeding what might normally be found in any existing community. A strategic plan, common themes, and well-defined frameworks for collaboration are important elements for success. A Learning Community will exhibit the following characteristics:
- The community as a whole accepts the shared responsibility for the continued learning of all of the community members.
- The school, government entities, and community organizations work collaboratively to establish joint community goals. These goals may be articulated as themes (e.g., establishing a learning community, creating collaborative frameworks, accepting environmental stewardship, fostering intergenerational learning, and promoting community wellness).
- The community goals are clearly articulated by all community entities, and each entity has developed mutually supportive strategic plans to address goal attainment.
- Community entities exhibit the characteristics of a learning organization. The participants aspire to achieve personal mastery in their areas of responsibility (serve as model learners). Participants have a shared vision of the goals, learn as a team, and apply systems thinking to modeling situations and solving problems.
- Community entities periodically communicate their goals and plans and have provisions for public input.
- Community entities actively seek to expand the base of public participation in the democratic process (actively encourage participation through educative programs and information dissemination).
- There is an emphasis on multiple learning opportunities for all community members from multiple sources (clubs, businesses, community groups and agencies, on-line resources, theater, museums, libraries, educational TV, wellness center, etc.).
- The community serves as an audience for student products and performances.
- The community treats children as active participants in the community rather than community charges. The community provides real opportunities for children to make contributions that result in real, rather than contrived, self-esteem.
- The school provides multiple access pathways for community participation with students in the learning enterprise. The school and community recognize the power of proximity (i.e., the Learning Community Campus) in fostering a collaborative learning environment.
Through extensive collaboration and community involvement, New Albany – Plain Local Schools has created entities that support this vision of collaborative learning such as the New Albany Library/Information Center, the New Albany Health & Wellness Center, the Wetlands Nature Preserve, and Kinko’s for Kids.