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School Leaders Come Together to Support Families
June 19, 2018 – During the first full week of summer break, teachers, principals and parent leaders from the district’s Title I schools were back in the classroom Monday and Tuesday to discuss family engagement and how it can impact student achievement.
School leaders joined Guilford Parent Academy (GPA) at Laughlin Professional Development Center for the Family Engagement Café, a two-day learning opportunity to help school leaders make the connection between increasing student achievement and family engagement, and to explore how schools must become culturally proficient to support all children.
The sessions were designed to help Guilford County Schools (GCS) achieve academic goals set in the district’s strategic plan.
“We know how important family engagement is to the success of students,” said Lindsay Whitley, director of GPA. “In fact, it’s one of the leading predictors of academic success. However, it must be a true partnership where families and the school develop a level of trust and work together to support children.”
Several nationally renowned speakers shared information with participants, including Erin Gruwell who was portrayed in the hit movie “Freedom Writers,” Author and National Speaker Byron Garrett, Bill Daggett with the International Center for Leadership in Education and Brenda Thomas with the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University.
“The last two days have been simply amazing from beginning to end,” said Melisa Saliga, a teacher at Peeler Elementary. “I have been enlightened, inspired and energized. It is evident that each presenter was well-chosen and shared experiences and their expertise at levels that were relevant to the important work we do — educating our future!”
Participants also participated in breakout sessions, which provided knowledge around working together with multicultural families, linking family engagement activities to learning, marketing resources to families and evaluating family engagement activities.
While parents and educators enjoyed the Family Engagement Café, their children attended fun, educational sessions with Children’s Author Kimberly Johnson.
“It’s refreshing to see school leaders recognize the impact of parent and family engagement,” said Donna Whiteman, parent at Oak Hill Elementary. “As parents, we have the most influence on our child’s life, and to know that our school district values us and sees us as partners in helping our children achieve in the classroom and beyond—that’s powerful.”
Whitley agrees and stresses the importance of helping students. “All family engagement efforts should support student achievement,” he said. “That’s an important lesson for school leaders.”