Think for a moment about the buildings you pass on your daily journey to school. You likely pass many houses—perhaps even some of the houses of the students you are on your way to teach. There are also businesses—coffee shops, corner stores, factories processing packages or making computer chips, locally owned boutiques or grocery stores, and office buildings of everything from law firms to insurance agencies. A third type of building you pass provides social or governmental services—churches, other schools, libraries, the post office.

You probably hardly notice these buildings anymore. It’s early, you’re tired, you have other things on your mind . . . but what if these buildings had something to offer your school? With a little creativity, that auto body shop could be a hands-on extension of your engineering classroom. That frozen yogurt stand might appreciate a student-designed mural on the wall facing their parking lot. That mayor might love to come talk to your class or even give you a tour of city hall. 

These buildings are not just buildings, of course. This is your school’s community. Our issue this quarter focuses on many creative ways that schools in our readership have reached out to their communities and found ways to love their neighbors and their neighborhoods—and they’ve provided great learning experiences at the same time. These teachers and leaders talk about science projects that get kids talking to adults in their lives (Clay Lubbers). They reflect on the ways their school served as a resource center during COVID-19 (Dan Meester, Simon Braun). Others think about ways schools—be they universities or K–12 schools in different denominations—can partner for the betterment of both parties (Kevin Mirchandani, Nina Pak Lui, Gina Robles). Still others think philosophically about how particular subject areas, like art, can create stronger communities (Adam Lancaster) and about why we should even engage with our community at all (Dave Loewen).

This issue is chock full of great ideas about how to get your students and staff outside the four walls of the school building and into the community. The next time you pass that corner store on the way home from work, we hope you’ll think of it as more than a place to grab a snack.