Most FIRST teams are affiliated with only one or two schools, have teachers filling the role of one of the team leaders, meet at the school, and use the school’s tool and facilities in support of the team. Because of this, it is critical that your team has the school’s support of your program.
TIP Find a champion who is has significant respect in your school and get their support. This may be your principal, school superintendent, or a science or math chairperson. Having a champion will help you throughout the program.
Your school can provide many resources if your team is lucky. Some of these include a place to work, tools and machining equipment, a place to store materials and supplies, funding, and possibly even human resources.
Understand the arrangement you will have with the school for having students working on site (if this is the case). Since this may be unlike other school programs due to some of the hours involved, you need to follow school rules or develop specific rules in this area.
TIP If you live in an area where schools may be closed due to bad weather (snow, hurricanes, etc.), know what your options are if this happens.
GETTING BILLS PAID THROUGH THE SCHOOL
Many teams’ accounts are handled as a school organization. This means that when bills are paid, a school check needs to be cut. Understand this process at your school and how long it takes. During the build season, you may need a part or piece of equipment right away. How do you handle this given the school process?
SCHOOL RULES ON TEAM TRAVEL
Understand up front what rules and regulations your school has regarding team travel. Knowing this up front will help you prepare.
Your school may require your team to provide regular updates on your progress. This may mean presenting to the school board or having informal meetings with the school principal. Understand what this process will be and be prepared for it. The best way to sustain or grow a program is to have good results and a means to communicate those results to others, who can help support it.