At the sudden onset of school closures, in March of 2020, as fundamental changes in our education systems were taking place, partnerships with families, parents and caregivers shifted into unprecedented territory. Parents and caregivers, quickly stepped into the role of teacher, counselor, mediator, coach, to name a few, however, above all else, they stepped into the role of an essential partner with their child’s school district. Engaging parents became a top priority for schools across the nation, and around the world.
For the first time, parents had a front row seat in their child(ren)’s classroom. Establishing and engaging relationships with parents, was no longer an option, it was a necessity. Parents were feeling vulnerable, teachers were feeling vulnerable, many, were uncomfortable in their new and necessary partnership. The discomfort, uncertainty and vulnerability proved to be the perfect recipe for new opportunities. One of the opportunities, included a new regional model of parent/caregiver support and education, now known as “Parent University.”
Parent University was intentionally designed with stakeholders across the region to align the needs of parents and caregivers, as well as those of our regional school districts. Collaborative leadership has been a guiding force throughout the process of drafting developing, revising and implementing Parent University. The Community Schools Advisory Committee spent months creating and revising a model that would provide a resource for school districts to offer to the parents and caregivers within their respective communities. In addition, many regional educators, community partners and local universities have come forward as partners in leading and facilitating monthly sessions.
The model is set up as a series of monthly, 1-hour sessions in the evening, via zoom. Sessions began in January of 2021, and will run through June, as the school year comes to an end. To date, there have been three sessions, with each passing month the participant registration and participation has steadily grown. Participants have included regional educators & administrators, parents, grandparents, foster parents and community partners.
If your district is interested in sharing this resource with their community or looking to expand on their own family engagement initiatives, please feel free to reach out the Community Schools Coordinator, Katie Mendell, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools