"...you have to try to give the ideas of the project without immediately getting into the 'what' of the work; you have to get the 'why' down really firmly before you do the 'what.' Now, you can't take these beliefs to another school and just graft them on, or tell them how to do activities that will make those beliefs happen."
--State REACH Consultant
An important point emphasized by those most involved with REACH is that it is a design for a process and for creating activities that promote self-reflection, a sense of community, and promote the development of skills and thoughtfulness while focusing on one's own interests and history. It is not a set of steps or a program, and its form will differ from school to school, class to class, and to some extent, student to student.
Although Georgetown is in some ways a small southern town, the district and school staff believe that they see some of the same problems that one would see nationally, e.g., more violence among young people. "Beck is not a melting pot but there is more diversity" than in other schools in the district. REACH activities focus on pocket communities -"little communities within communities" - and students research and investigate each culture represented in those communities.
There are a variety of efforts other than REACH underway in the school, and many of them reflect a concern with community involvement and family issues.
There are many participants in REACH activities, and they play various roles. The principal and administrators play a supportive role for the project, practically and symbolically. The core REACH team plays a key organizing and coordinating role. REACH teachers include anyone who wants to participate. School staff implement REACH activities schoolwide and in their classrooms, as well as extending from the model in additional instructional practices. Students are the key workers in all REACH projects, doing the research, writing, constructing and performing, and presenting. Families and community member are informants, workers, planners, and sometimes classroom resources.
It is crucial to understand that a shared vision is something that gets constructed over time. Projects, themselves, do not create school change; participants must understand why restructuring is necessary before implementing change strategies and activities.
The presentation of REACH as an opportunity and a model for change seems very important in the diffusion of the idea, by avoiding the "forced" change that many teachers would resent.
Distinctions between instructional practice and family involvement are minimized; teachers create a shared culture that includes incorporating family knowledge and experience.