Engaged Families and Communities

Building Stronger Relationships Between Families, Schools and Communities

By Amy Buffenbarger

The National Education Association hosted a National Summit on Family, School, and Community Engagement last week in Alexandria, Va where educators, education leaders, parents, family and community activists, business leaders and representatives of the faith community met for two days of small group and panel discussions.

Participants shared success stories and discussed the challenges faced with strengthening the bonds between families, communities and their public schools. Parents work hard and don’t have much time to visit their childrens’ classrooms. Sometimes there are language barriers between educators and families. Legislators don’t prioritize family and community involvement as highly as they should. Some educators could use more training in reaching out to parents. In other cases, the education system has changed so much since the parents were in school, they simply don’t understand it anymore.

While these challenges are shared in schools and communities across the country, there are also plenty of examples of educators who have found successful ways to establish strong relationships with the families of their students. These relationships, which research proves help to increase student achievement, are especially critical in our priority schools. Kim Oliver Burnim, a National Board Certified Teacher and a former Teacher of the Year, addressed the summit in a “Conversation about Community and Teacher Roles” during which she shared how to engage parents more meaningfully.

Watch the video below to hear her talk about her experience as an elementary school teacher at Broad Acres Elementary in Silver Spring, Md.

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Classroom Superheroes

Educators in priority schools are rising to a superhero challenge every single day. Nominate educators in your community and support others at classroomsuperheroes.com

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PSC Superhero Keith G. Pemberton

Keith G. Pemberton is a social worker at Oak Hill Elementary School in High Point, N.C., where he has built a strong and steady pipeline for parental involvement, specifically among fathers and male mentors. Check out his Classroom Superhero profile and leave some words of encouragement.

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