Engaging Families in the School Community: Olean Elementary Schools take part in Dad’s Take Your Child to School Day
In an effort to engage families and create a stronger tie between the school and community, Olean Elementary Schools took part in the statewide initiative known as Dad’s Take Your Child to School Day. In partnership with Cattaraugus Community Action, Inc., Olean Elementary Schools welcomed approximately 204 parents on September 16 as they brought their child to school.
Dads and/or family members brought their child to school, participated in a raffle for various prizes and enjoyed a nutritious breakfast, all before the start of the school day. Those in attendance also received information about various offerings that encourage more familial involvement in the everyday aspects of their child’s lives. Brian Crawford, principal of East View Elementary spoke of the value in the overall experience: “Having active, involved and engaged mothers and fathers is critical to the success and well being of a child. Children need love from both their mom and dad and in some of our families one parent serves both roles. This was a day to celebrate the fathers who embrace their responsibility as dads.”
Nancy Aborjaily teaches art at Wellsville Middle School; this year she included a writing component with three grade level art assignments. The goal was to better engage families in the process and product of their child’s artwork.
When their artwork was complete, students were asked to compose a personal letter to their families that highlighted the following: what’s the project; what did you struggle with; what did completing the project teach you about perseverance and grit; and lastly, how did you feel when you completed the project?
Nancy states, “One of the things I have strived to teach students in class is that when they are confronted with an obstacle, they need to stick with it; dig in and work hard to overcome it and solve their ‘artistic’ problem especially when they might want to give up and abandon the work.” Nancy explained that when someone observes a completed work, there’s no way to know or to “see” the perseverance and grit. The students’ letters enabled families to experience more than the completed artwork.
The reflection process was rewarding for the students and their families.
Nancy added, “This idea grew out of my need to let families know how hard their children work to meet and overcome challenges that art projects often times present.” Students gave voice to challenge, hard work, and success; hopefully, they’ll apply the process to other challenges they face in their lives.
With the letters, Nancy included a color photo of the artwork. These items helped with important dialogue at home about the artwork. Nancy said, “Student and family responses were amazing and heartfelt; the process gave families a front row seat in their child’s classroom; it was a smashing success!”
Grade 6: Giant Self Portrait
Grade 7: Indonesian Shadow Puppets *displayed at the David A. Howe Public Library in Wellsville
Grade 8: Grid Art
By Anne Mitchell, CA BOCES and Portville Central School
Dr. Steve Constantino states that the top predictor of a child’s success in school is meaningful and relevant family engagement. Dr. Constantino is the superintendent of Williamsburg-James City School District in Virginia. His family engagement journey began in March 1995 when he became principal at Stonewall Jackson High School. He described his first impression of the school and the tangible barrier to families feeling welcomed: the counter that greeted “visitors” at the school’s main entrance; he called it “the imposing bit of architecture in the main office that many administrators use to keep parents at bay.” On this day, his first day as high-school principal, he tore it down and that “imposing bit of architecture” became an allegory to promote positive school culture and to guide his family engagement practice and success.
Does your district have “an imposing piece of furniture?”