Building community is at the heart of our work at Long-View. We believe learning is accelerated through meaningful interactions with others. Furthermore, we believe families should be involved in creating a culture of learning that blurs the lines of “school learning” and outside learning. We cannot achieve that end if we do not involve families in developing meaningful relationships with us (the school and staff) and with each other. Thus, to begin and reconnect those relationships, we kick off each school year with an event we call the Parent Tailgate.

A few days before the first day of school we invite the adults in our community to gather at Long-View for a night of introductions and reconnections. Long-View buys dinner and in a true community spirit, families volunteer to bring favorite drinks and desserts. It reminds us of inviting friends over to your house for dinner; you cook and host at your place and your friends offer to bring something! Like everything we do at Long-View, this event is thoughtfully designed to contribute toward the bigger picture of our work.

Around 7:00 pm last night, parents and staff arrived clad in jeans and summer dresses. Smiles and hugs abounded and soon, as more people arrived, a happy chatter filled the air. This year we had hip Austin food truck East Side King pull into our parking lot and serve delicious “Japanese street food with a touch of Austin soul.” Our red couches and tables normally filled with young mathematicians, readers, writers, scientists and coders, were “transformed” into dining room furniture, with parents clustered in various niches all over our newly renovated space.

With no formal program (we save that for Big Picture Night), we simply want folks to enjoy time together. We know from social psychology research that relationships need time and space/close proximity to develop, which is what we are hoping to provide with this event. Plus, we know from experience it’s just plain fun!

The night came to a close as people began to peter out and the chatter waned. The sky, which is easily in view from our glass walls, had faded from light to dark, and the bistro lights wrapped around our balcony railing glowed like large fireflies in the summer breeze. We all agreed this was our best Tailgate ever, which can only mean one thing; we are officially ready for our best year of Long-View yet!