This school year, we’ve been focusing on building strong partnerships with families. We know that we cannot be successful without the support provided through these partnerships. We see how they help our schools grow as communities and help our students reach their potential.
At Huegel Elementary School, the family partnership is blossoming. The school’s Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Action Team came together in October 2016. The team consists of Huegel staff, parents and a district liaison. Many of the parents are also active in the school’s African-American and Latino parent groups.
Digging into the data: Do families feel a sense of belonging?
Fifth grade teacher Kim O’Donahue said the FACE team sees itself as a leadership body that serves the community. One way they do this is by collecting and analyzing data on how families rate Huegel’s welcoming climate. They also look at written communications to help ensure that they are family-friendly and relevant to families’ cultures and languages, and then make recommendations to the School Based Leadership Team.
Huegel’s FACE team meets once a month. O’Donahue said they focus on fun and capacity building. “Capacity building is really digging deep within our staff to really learn about ourselves and learn about our families,” O’Donahue said.
Andrea Shorter is a parent on the FACE team. Shorter is also a member of Huegel African-American Parent Power Engagement Network (HAPPEN). Shorter said it’s a power tool to be involved with your kids’ education.
"Capacity building is really digging deep within our staff to really learn about ourselves and learn about our families." – Kim O’Donahue
Science activities help students and families learn together
The FACE team not only works to build a better Huegel community, the team also partners with Edgewood College for the Resources and Opportunities in Science Education (ROSE) program. The program meets monthly and provides a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) activity for parents, while their kids have separate activities. The parents then teach their kids what they learned.
“The games and projects provided by those from Edgewood helps us to explore the relationship between science, technology, engineering and math and ultimately how they work together to make things work,” said Shirena Lando, Huegel parent and FACE team member. Lando said the ROSE program provides her with the knowledge she needs to help her son think outside the box.
Interim Principal Dave Bray said the program sends a powerful message. “The kids get to see their parents as learners. I think it’s cool for them. I think some have this notion that you only learn when you’re in school but we all know that’s not true. That’s life. We need to be lifelong learners,” said Bray.
Huegel’s FACE team is excited about what’s to come. Shorter said she wants to see it grow. O’Donahue said she’s excited that Huegel staff is listening and learning from parents. She said parents are their kids’ first teachers and when families and teachers are partnering, that’s when they’re doing the best.