Community matters. Its true. We all have a need to belong. When we are part of a group, we are afforded both common rituals and a sense of connectedness. Beyond an education, this is what a classroom or school community can offer youth – and group affiliation can go a long way in strengthening positive behavior.

I felt the impact of community firsthand as my wife and I rounded out my 50th birthday celebration this weekend in Cape May, New Jersey. I had a quick blink-of-an-eye presentation in the area last year and loved the group, but I was unaware of the true local color and flavor of the community until our extended stay this time. We experienced amazing people [educators referencing their own Wawa language], places [eat breakfast at Georges] and events [Who knew Cape May hosted an annual Lima Bean Festival?]. The climate was very positive, as evidenced by the behavior of the citizens. Despite the rainy weather, everyone was cheery, optimistic and accommodating. This, of course, is why community matters.

When we connect with others we strengthen social skills, which are critical to healthy functioning. Unfortunately, in todays technology-filled society, we all seem to be making less overall personal connections. This means educators have to make stronger, more concerted efforts affording youth ways to connect with others in the school setting. Be it through class meetings, morning advisories, or unstructured play, students need time to practice forming healthy relationships with others.

Thank you, Cape May, New Jersey. You have restored my faith in communities. Ill look forward to hopefully heading back your way at some point in the future. Dont worry youll recognize my wife and me in our matching t-shirts.