"Successful Schools: Families Matter" from the Center for the Improvement of Student Learning highlights promising family and community partnership practices from one district and two schools from Washington State.
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Beacon Hill Elementary in Seattle is a bastion of diversity as more than 90 percent of its student population consists of minorities, including 52 percent Asian and 30 percent Hispanic.
Four years ago, the school started its Latino Family Group, which meets once a month to socialize, bond and learn about the school. It exists, in part, through the efforts of Chilo Granizo, a parent volunteer who now serves as the school’s bilingual instructional assistant.
“I became very involved with this school because I was living across the street and my children were here and every time they were needing somebody to translate, I was understanding every time a little more, a little more,” Granizo said.
Granizo leads a Kindergarten parent language program where Latino parents are invited to learn and read with their children in Spanish and English. It’s a true partnership program.
“We have so many refugee and immigrant families here whose experience in their country has not been that they would be involved in school,” Beacon Hill Principal Susie Murphy said. “So they bring their children to school and expect we’re the experts and we’re the ones who are going to help their children learn to read. And we have to help them see that here, our expectations is that we work together.”
Beacon Hill’s Latino Family Group model was an inspiration to start a similar program with the school’s heavy influence of Asian families, mostly from China and Vietnam.
“We started out using the same model of bringing the families in and saying, ‘All right, tell us what you need,” Murphy said.
To learn more about Beacon Hill Elementary’s family outreach programs, download and watch their story from the DVD “Successful Schools: Families Matter” by clicking here.
Two years ago, the Federal Way School District, a state leader in family partnership efforts, sought alternative ways to reach male minority students not meeting academic standards. Through those efforts, the idea of a Heritage Leadership Camp evolved where community members would serve as mentors.
“As we started trying to figure out how we could have a greater impact on the students that we have in the district who weren’t being successThe ful, we knew we had to broaden the involvement beyond people who worked for the school district,” Federal Way Superintendent Tom Murphy said.
The Heritage Leadership Camp meets three times during the school year for daylong workshops. Twelve mentors promote leadership and academic excellence to 60 middle school students. Some of the mentors also meet individually with students throughout the year.
“Now what we’ve noticed is because we’ve respected their time and have honored what they could give us, they have started off with relationships that have compelled them to give a little more than they originally thought they could,” said Trise Moore, the Family Partnership Advocate for Federal Way.
To learn more about Federal Way School District’s Family Partnership program, download and watch their story from the DVD “Successful Schools: Families Matter” by clicking here.
Wanting to further engage students and their families in education, Grandview High School adopted the popular Navigation 101, a guidance program that starts during a student’s freshman year and ends at graduation.
Grandview adapted the Navigation 101 model, first developed at the Franklin Pierce School District in Tacoma, to meet its local needs. They customized the program and called it “GEMS.”
Advisory classes, led by teachers and certified staff members, meet four times each week with classes of 20 students. Students work with the same advisor during their four-year high school stay.
“We’re helping those students go from a 14-year-old freshman to being an 18-year-old who’s prepared for a successful after-high school experience,” said Carol Bardwell, a counselor at Grandview High.
Students work with their advisors on goal setting, communication skills, academics and their portfolios, which they present at student-led conferences two times a year. Students plan and lead the conferences and advisors and family members are invited guests. The conferences help students plan for life beyond high school and help parents further participate in their child’s education.
I have a really strong view that kids need to be in charge of their own education,” said Arcella Hall, former prinicipal at Grandview who now works at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. “I want them to understand that high school is supposed to prepare them for their future, not just be something that they survive, but something that is here for them.”
To learn more about Grandview High School’s GEMS program, download and watch their story from the DVD “Successful Schools: Families Matter” by clicking here.