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What real family engagement means to us

An adult woman and child hug in a classroom.

We asked our team members to share their thoughts. Here’s what they said.

“To me, family engagement is something as simple as a teacher or other school staff greeting a parent by name, rather than referring to them as 'child's mom/dad'. Family engagement is the sum of all of the seemingly insignificant little moments of interaction between school staff and caregivers. And they all matter.” - Sair Goldenberg, ParentCorps Educator

“When my daughter was 3 she was the youngest kid in her entire elementary school and let's say I was not prepared for my own separation anxiety! I stood in the hallway outside of her pre-k classroom for a month (literally). At some point one of her teachers brought me a chair and then, on a daily basis, snacks. They never made me feel like I was annoying them (even though I'm sure I was!). Every day they would tell me something specific they learned about my kid (like "She doesn't nap so during nap time she helps us sharpen the crayons!")... They were welcoming and supportive and made sure I knew that they knew my kid. That meant everything. Eventually I was able to move out of the hallway and get a job!” - Lisa Ellrodt, ParentCorps Educator

“Family engagement means that when a family is struggling with something – grief, loss, illness, food insecurity, mental health – there is someone trusted at the school to share the struggle with. It also means that schools and families celebrate together! It means that when the school opens its doors to caregivers, families show up to be a part of the community.” - Katherine Rosenblatt, ParentCorps Programming Manager

“Imagine walking into a big box home improvement store to look for a little piece to fix your sink. The store seems huge, and you don’t know what aisle to look in. You walk past two employees who seem to not notice you. You want to approach them but feel intimidated as they laugh and talk amongst themselves. Eventually you leave without having your needs met. Your experience was terrible and you never want to return. For some families, this is their experience at their child’s school. Standing in an office or in a hallway, feeling nervous, having not been greeted, noticed or valued – and when finally getting someone's attention, feeling rushed or even judged by tired, overwhelmed staff… If I am most honest, as an educator I have done this! But then I came across ParentCorps… [which] supports educators to think critically and self-reflect on how they show up or don’t show up when interacting with families... And then we arm them with evidence based strategies, rooted in the science of early childhood, that they can immediately apply in their schools and classrooms. This family engagement transformed me.” - Kai-ama Hamer, Director, ParentCorps

“Family engagement helps schools build the village that caregivers need to raise their children. It feels so good to see how well caregivers interact and support one another at the end of [ParentCorps’ Parenting Program]. Caregivers who did not know each other 12 weeks prior, can't stop talking to one another by session 12.” - Regine Dunn, ParentCorps Educator

“Family engagement to me centers on how we can support and understand the needs that each and every family has in order to raise their child. It is building collaboration and trust so that family members can feel secure in having their child feel loved and accepted at school.” - Kyle McGee, ParentCorps Educator

“[My daughter] Ayana just started kindergarten yesterday. I got to hug her teachers and my daughter before the day began to wish them well. We all got to start the year knowing that we are in this together. It gave me the confidence that we are all going to be ok.” - Michelle Boyd, ParentCorps Specialist


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