The answer? Urban Network Teams!
In October, I was fortunate to attend meetings conducted by two of our National PTA Urban Family Engagement Network teams. My first stop was the 16th District in Lexington, KY. The Lexington team is led by James Brown and includes representatives from local PTAs, the United Way, Fayette County Public Schools, Head Start, NAACP, and the Urban League. After getting to know the team over delicious Hot Browns, we went to the local library to meet the parents participating in the program. At the event, parents learned about the value of engaging males in education and leadership. During the event, the team shared a video that really connected family engagement to student success. The parents decided that their two top concerns were engaging more families and advocating for more diversity among teachers.
My next stop was Rochester, MN. The team, led by Deborah Seelinger, includes representatives from the area council PTA, Rochester City Schools, United Way, Head Start, and the local diversity council. They are implementing their project in partnership with the local Head Start and we joined them at the local Boys and Girls Club to meet the families participating in their program. The topic of the meeting was parent rights and responsibilities and, although all of the parents attending were Head Start parents, many of them had kids who were also attending local schools. During the session, parents learned about how to have effective parent teacher conferences. They actually role-played a great conference with the local district’s curriculum director! Parents also learned about the chain of command and how they can use it to solve problems at school. The entire group participated in problem-solving, using a real-life situation that one parent was having with their child’s bus driver!
National PTA has Urban Network teams in 15 cities. These local teams are passionate and deeply committed to improving the educational outcomes of all children through effective family engagement. For more information on the Urban Network, please visit PTA.org/urban.
ENGAGE! is a weekly column on Family Engagement written by Sherri Wilson, Senior Manager of Family and Community Engagement at the National PTA. Sherri is the former Director of the Alabama Parent Information and Resource Center and is currently responsible for developing and implementing programs related to family and community engagement at the National PTA.