What parents do at home matters, and strong collaborations between schools, parents and the community are important to student success. An emphasis on the importance of parent engagement is spreading across the region, and the Road Map Project is taking aim at developing a robust regional parent engagement system. While pockets of excellence have existed for years, many new parent engagement programs are now coming online. Now is a very exciting time for the field of parent engagement in our region.
In Seattle, the school district and Seattle Council PTSA have joined forces to support the Family Connectors University (FCU) program, a free 10-week course designed to empower parents to get involved in public education by emphasizing the power of connecting with the right people at a school, asking questions and effectively monitoring a child’s learning.
Where FCU goes further, however, is in developing close relationships with local postsecondary institutions, including Seattle University and North Seattle Community College, to provide the program and its parents with staff support and college credit. After graduating from the program, parents are asked to pick a project, such as establishing a PTA or a family engagement action team, and to commit to work on the project for the following year. To date, 59 parents have completed the full training, and the district has plans to expand FCU in the future.
Bernardo Ruiz, the district’s director of School-Family Partnerships and Equity & Race Relations, said he has witnessed an undeniable effect among the parents who have completed FCU.
“Our goal is, in three and a half years, to have completely changed the culture of the district,” Ruiz said.
Photo and reporting courtesy Curtis Cartier