From the Superintendent: Engaging with Students, Families and Community an Ongoing Effort


Dear Colleagues,


I am honored to be writing you on the first day of February, Black History Month. Next Monday, February 8, is NAAPID, National African American Parent Involvement Day. We welcome all parents to visit their children’s schools on this special day, but we know engaging with parents is an ongoing effort.


Similarly, we recognize Black History Month in February, knowing that as culturally responsive educators we cannot compartmentalize or limit our study of any of our student’s cultures to a single month or day of the year. SPPS is blessed with students and families from all over the world. Such rich diversity of race, culture and language offer incredible opportunities to learn about our beautiful uniqueness and commonalities.


Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, described a teacher who found a way to engage family members and incorporate culture at the same time. “Gertrude Winston, a White woman who taught school for 40 years, . . . created an ‘artist or craftsperson-in-residence’ program so that the students could both learn from each other's parents and affirm cultural knowledge.”


Professor Ladson-Billings describes how one parent known for her delicious sweet potato pies taught the students to make the crust on the first day, filling on the second day. “The students who participated in the ‘seminar’ were required to conduct additional research on various aspects of what they learned. Students from the pie baking seminar did reports on George Washington Carver and his sweet potato research, conducted taste tests, devised a marketing plan for selling pies, and researched the culinary arts.” Several other residencies took place, all conducted by the students’ family members.


Ms. Winston “was deliberate in reinforcing that the parents were a knowledgeable and capable resource. Her students came to understand . . . that what they had and where they came from was of value.”


Thank you to all the SPPS teachers and other staff members who daily affirm the gifts our diverse students -- and their parents -- can bring to our classrooms and schools.

Your very proud Superintendent,

Silva Signature



Valeria Silva