Parent, Family or Community Engagement is more than an acquisition on most schools wish list but it is a continuous journey as demonstrated by being the focus of conferences by staff leaders of school systems such as Pike County’s dynamic Title I conference in Kentucky. The conference also provided Professional Development (PD) for its teachers, Family Resource leaders, and staff. Professional Development:
- Aligns with Kentucky’s Core Academic Standards in 704 KAR 3:303, educator effectiveness standards, individual professional growth goals, and school, school district, and state goals for student achievement;
- Focuses on such areas as individual improvement, school improvement, and program implementation; and
- Is on-going.
According to the U. S. Department of Education, it is important to create a concerted focus on developing adult capacity, whether through professional development for educators; academies, workshops, seminars, and workplace trainings for families; or as an integrated part of parent-teacher partnership activities. Pike County Schools went even further to include a national perspective through Tuesday’s keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, Byron V. Garrett, CEO, National Family Engagement Alliance who encourages parents and teachers to “read aloud” with students and engage them with current tools more intentionally. FRYSC Coordinator, Eugenia Whitt, was one of many who enjoyed his workshop and enthusiastically recapped, “He let us know that to reach more families to become more engaged, we must do more than we did years ago and use social media. We must do whatever it takes!” Garrett cited that upwards of 40% of students are chronically disengaged from school. He illustrates through life’s experiences that “What the mind conceives and the heart believes, the hands can achieve.” This is also a central theme in his new Scholastic book, There’s Greatness on the Inside. As Garrett states in the Huffington Post, “By showing our children that achievement in all forms can bring happiness, we create well-rounded adults. Greatness in the classroom, on the playing field, with musical instruments and art supplies can all translate into success later in life. The name of the game is showing that mastery and achievement are the ways forward, because everyone has different skills and abilities and because there isn’t one single path to success, everyone can get there.”
Why is it so important for schools to learn how to better engage families? According to Education.com and other advocates, Parents and families have the most direct and lasting impact on children’s learning and development of social competence. When parents are involved, students achieve more, exhibit more positive attitudes and behavior, and feel more comfortable in new settings. Another presenter, April Traywick with Prichard Committee’s Governor’s Commonwealth Institute of Parent Leadership (GCIPL), states that as we welcome parents into the schools, we must remember to not only have a smile on our faces, but to have a smile in our voices, especially on the phone.
“We do believe that’s the way we can make a difference as far as improving our schools. Teachers have to be exposed to quality professional development in order to improve” said Pike County Schools Superintendent Reed Adkins. Robert Osborne, Director of Federal Programs (such as Title I), praised Superintendent Adkins, all staff, presenters, students, sponsors and non-profit vendors (Scholastic, Beta Club, Challenger Center, etc.) while recounting how well the canned food drive did in conjunction with this project. He also stated that the remaining food from the delicious luncheon will be donated to the Homeless Shelter. In Kentucky, some 31,000 students are homeless – living in a homeless shelter, motel or campground, car, outside, or staying with relatives or friends. This is 5% of our state’s public school students-highest of any state! In the United States, in 2013, some 2.5 million students were homeless at some point.
What is Title I? Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. We were also blessed with music by the choir of Pike County Central High School with songs and solos that would rival a professional music company or concert! Director Matt Moon continues to lead this art form and included a wonderful tribute to veterans in America, the Beautiful.
On the previous day, Dr. Devin Stephenson, President and CEO of Big Sandy and Community and Technical College, served as keynote speaker. Dr. Stephenson exemplifies the value of a community college education which launched him on a path to greatness as President and CEO of Big Sandy and Community and Technical College to now. Over two hundred teachers attended the two-day conference consisting of over 3o breakout sessions for professional development (PD). Pike County requires more PD for their district than the mandate.
HAPPY NATIONAL PARENT INVOLVEMENT DAY November 19, 2015!
Blog by Brenda Martin, A National PTA Social Media Ambassador, GCIPL Fellow, former KDE Teacher Effectiveness Steering Committee parent representative serving as an official blogger for Title I Conference Day two. For more information on Family Engagement in Education Act, click here. Follow Brenda on Twitter @bdrumartin.