From the Superintendent: Family Engagement -- and our outreach to families -- is vital to student success

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Colleagues,

 

Since the beginning of the new year, I have been in countless classrooms across the district. It is nothing short of inspiring to see the amazing things happening in Saint Paul Public Schools every day. Just last week I spent time in several schools, each one representing all we aspire to in our district -- engaged students, strong relationships, personalized instruction, technology integration, positive climate, inclusion and above all, student learning!

This does not occur by mistake or happenstance. It takes hard work and dedication by everyone involved, including families. Family engagement can take many shapes and forms. For some it means volunteering at school; for others it is ensuring their child has a dedicated spot to do homework each night.

I truly believe that every family wants what is best for their child and understands that engaging in their child’s education is vital. Even so, many (if not most) parents have questions about how our schools work and what they can do to advocate more effectively for their kids.

Parent Academy, offered each year by the Office of Family Engagement and Community Partnerships, helps parents better understand how to partner with schools on behalf of their children. To date more than 4,000 SPPS parents have graduated from the program, which lasts six weeks.

We know this is a big commitment, and we strive to make it as easy as possible for parents to attend the full series of classes. In response to feedback from parents, SPPS has also created a series of seminars and workshops lasting only one or two sessions. These events take a closer look at key topics that may be covered in less depth in Parent Academy, or maybe not covered at all. Seminar topics are chosen by school leaders, based on what they know about and hear from their families.

Just like Parent Academy, these events are free to attend and include child care and a meal. Last fall, more than 850 middle school and high school parents attended seminars and workshops in their children’s schools -- this is a tremendous turnout, of which I am very proud! Topics included academic preparation for high school, planning for post-secondary, and middle school transitions.

This winter is the second year for elementary school seminars, with topics like academic success, literacy, parent advocacy and leadership. All seminars are led by experts, who include parents, community members, Parent Academy graduates, individual entrepreneurs, and staff from the City of Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Metropolitan Council and Metropolitan State University.

As a result of Parent Academy and the parent seminar series, each of our schools is developing a growing cohort of informed, involved parents. Energized and eager adults are vital partners to the success of our schools.

 

On this National African American Parent Involvement Day, let’s recommit to finding ways to bring parents into schools throughout the year.

Thank you for all you do on behalf of the students and families we serve.

Your very proud Superintendent,

Silva Signature

 

 

Valeria Silva