Dr. Jessica Lander, from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, explains “Robust family engagement positively affects student growth, improves test scores, and enhances the overall vibrancy and success of a school.” We strongly believe in this idea and have anchored our family engagement efforts and practices in this idea with a desire to create a bridge between homes and schools.
Three years ago our district invested in part- and full-time bilingual (Spanish speaking) parent engagement coordinators to help increase family involvement in our schools, and be a liaison between often marginalized families and our schools. We wanted our families to feel welcome, understand the school system, and know they had an advocate on each campus. During the past year, increasing the hours of our family engagement coordinators and the programming and services we offer to parents has expanded our family engagement program. The development of the positions coincided with the influx of Latino immigrant families, and unaccompanied minors predominantly from Central America. The vision was that if we can support and engage families, then it will help students stay in school and find academic success and a social community of support.
Our district has a family engagement coordinator at each of our six comprehensive sites and our alternative school. Although each coordinator serves an individual school site, they work as a team facilitated by the Manager of English Learner Programs, to develop and implement district-wide events, help facilitate our District English Learner Advisory Committee, and ensure consistency and quality of services to families and our students.