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Parent and Family Engagement Practices

Schoolwide Parent Representation – 2018

Athens AcademyAthens Academy (Athens, GA). Athens Academy is an educational community where the students, the school, and the parents are partners. The school’s Parent Service Organization (PSO) works with administration to enhance the school’s quality of programs and academic life. Each of the four academy divisions have representatives on the PSO Executive Board. Over 100 parents hold key positions of leadership as grade representatives and/or PSO chairs and co-chairs. The Grade Representative program is another integral parent/school partnership. The program consists of two family representatives for each grade level. The representatives serve as families’ information channels and discussion groups on substantive matters relating to the school and its students. They assist in organizing parent communications, sponsoring parent orientation and social functions, and facilitating school-related social activities. They also promote the school in the community and support the school’s efforts for growth and development.

Parent Specialist, Monthly Town Hall Meetings – 2017

Photo of Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan High School Students

Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan High School (ADOMHS) (Los Angeles, CA). ADOMHS has prioritized its partnership with parents by appointing a Parent Engagement Specialist to interact with and encourage parent participation on campus. The Parent Engagement Specialist hosts community events (such as the monthly Town Hall Meetings) and encourages parents to volunteer at school and attend parent conferences. Counselors and administrators share and review school performance data, and provide parents with a variety of resources. The school’s college counselors and Parent Engagement Specialist design meetings to better inform parents about college entrance requirements. Topics include: high school graduation requirements, introduction to higher education, overview of the four systems of higher education in California, financial literacy, college applications and deadlines, financial aid review, and undocumented students and the CA Dream Act.

In addition, the school hosts semi-annual parent conferences and informal meetings with parents to address student needs. ADOMHS encourages parents to visit and become familiar with classes and what children are learning. The school also encourages parents to volunteer 40 hours every year to support school efforts. The goal is that all ADOMHS parents will become more involved in the education of their child. Parents may assist with school supervision during the school day or with clerical duties in the main office, or volunteer at special events.

ADOMHS informs parent and community members of upcoming events and student achievement via a monthly newsletter and phone messages. The newsletter includes messages from the administration, updates on student achievement, important deadlines, scholarship opportunities, as well as college related activities.

Teacher Priority, Technology – 2017

Photo of Classical High School

Classical High School (Providence, RI). Teachers at Classical share a professional growth goal focused on increasing parent engagement. Every teacher sets specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and time bound goals to improve engagement with families. The faculty utilizes many best practice suggestions, such as establishing set office hours, providing a course syllabus, and maintaining consistent communication. The Classical Parent Association provided technical assistance in developing an increased parental web presence by including an electronic newsletter, link to teacher websites, translation options, and a Google calendar of events. In addition, the student information system, Skyward, has many parent-friendly features, including a parent portal where all families can access student assignments, review academic progress, and communicate directly with faculty and staff.

Parental Engagement Leader – 2017

Photo of Maxine L. Silva Health Magnet High School Kids

Maxine L. Silva Health Magnet High School (El Paso, TX). To emphasize the importance placed on family and community engagement, the campus provides funding for a part-time Parental Engagement Leader (PEL) position. The PEL designs programs that encourage parental and community involvement. Specific activities include: creating informational newsletters, conducting or scheduling parent meetings, coordinating volunteer efforts, and procuring community donations. The PEL ensures parents are aware of and have access to the parent portal program which allows visibility of children’s grades at any time. The PEL coordinates and provides parental support and empowerment with seminars on a variety of topics, such as anti-bullying awareness. The PEL coordinates anti-bullying awareness through a series of presentations, seminars, and trainings to the community, students, and parents. This information is presented after school to allow maximum attendees. As a result, the school has reduced its discipline rate to the lowest in the district and its students have become advocates who know the procedures to follow when bullying is witnessed.

The PEL also invites guest speakers such as police, emergency medical services personnel, and alumni to present on other relevant topics for parents and the community. These topics address: food bank distribution, nutrition, English acquisition, college awareness, computer literacy, health classes with an emphasis on diabetes, assistance to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) nights, and income tax filing assistance programs.

Trained Literacy Volunteers, Videotaped Academies – 2015

Liberty Corner School

Liberty Corner School (Liberty Corner, NJ). Trained parent volunteers, Literacy United Volunteers (LUV), help our Kindergartners navigate the initial stages of literacy. Volunteers are trained by our Reading Specialists in the Reading and Writing Workshop formats and in supporting at‐risk students to improve comprehension, word recognition, decoding and encoding, fluency, and apply reading strategies using the cueing system. These parent volunteers are invaluable: they provide additional one‐on‐one instruction to improve student reading abilities and overall academic achievement. Children gain in self‐confidence and self-esteem as they begin to exhibit progress and achievement through DRA scores, Slosson benchmarks, unit assessments, and reading inventories.

Families engage in numerous school‐related activities. The Sweetheart Dance, Mother/Son Bowling, Buddies n’ Books Café, Trial of the Big Bad Wolf, Battle of the Books, movie nights, PTO evening enrichment assemblies, Golden Guest and Pizza Night promote a sense of community and strengthen the culture and climate of our school. Additionally, parents collaborate with staff members on the Character Education Committee and the School Safety and the Crisis Management Teams, providing feedback from a parent’s perspective to enhance programs and initiatives and ensure the safety and well‐being of our students.

Volunteer trainings, LUV, and videotaped Parent Academy presentations enable parents to better understand our curricular goals and objectives and learn how to work more effectively with their own children while reinforcing and strengthening our home/school partnership and student achievement. When parents are informed and lines of communication are open, mutual respect is forged for the benefit of the children.

Home Visits, Class Assemblies, Student-Led Conferences – 2015

Martin Petitjean Elementary School

Martin Petitjean Elementary School (Rayne, LA). Martin Petitjean Elementary (MPE) engages parents in three key ways. First, all homeroom teachers make home visits to meet their new students in August prior to school opening. This allows teachers to see firsthand where each student lives and sends the message to parents that the MPE teachers care enough to reach out to them. Second, parents are welcome to attend weekly Synergy Assemblies, featuring individual classes, and parents are specifically invited to attend the assembly when their child’s class is celebrated. Third, parents are strongly encouraged to attend the annual student‐led parent conference day. The first set of invitations goes out two months in advance, allowing parents time to request leave from work. Students write personal invitations to let parents know they are leading the conference. Additionally, teachers are always available to meet with parents throughout the year. School‐to‐home communications include student papers and school news.