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Ask HISD: What happened to Parent Engagement?

2013 August 29
by HISD Communications

To answer some of the many questions we’ve received recently about the department formerly known as Parent Engagement, we sat down with General Manager Alejandro Morúa to discuss the department’s new name and new focus.

Q: Parent Engagement has changed its name to Family and Community Engagement (FACE). Why?

A: We wanted to be inclusive of all the people in a child’s life that play a part in their schooling – parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, godparents, neighbors, and more. Communities also play a big part in supporting families. They can partner with schools to provide services that would otherwise be unavailable.  To impact student achievement, it really does take the whole village!

Q: What else has changed besides the name?

A: FACE is now focusing on two main pieces. First, we want to be sure FACE across the district is systemic, scalable, and sustainable. The most efficient way to do that with a staff of 14 is to build capacity at the school level by providing FACE professional development and resources to school-based staff. That way, schools can drive their own FACE program, targeted at their unique school community, and reach more families.

Second, we want to be sure that there is a FACE component embedded across district initiatives—that all HISD departments are consistent in the way that they engage families and that departments collaborate to leverage their resources.

Q:  How will FACE be working with our schools?

A: FACE is offering four types of interventions for schools. 1) We are expanding the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program for parents of 3, 4, and 5-year-olds, which is proven to boost school readiness. 2) We will offer one-to-one support for schools to develop a FACE plan around their community needs.  3) We will be offering professional development workshops and tools on our website for all schools.  4) Finally, we hope to pilot the Academic Parent-Teacher Teams (APTT) model, a revamped parent-teacher conference model, pending Board of Education approval. We are collaborating with the School Support Office to identify which campuses we will be targeting with these services.

Q:  We heard that FACE will not be offering some of the same services it did last last year. Which ones?

A: Our focus is on building the capacity of campus leadership and teachers.  FACE staff will not offer the Parent Prep Academy or English as a Second Language (ESL) classes this school year.  However, we will continue to work with social service agencies around Houston that can provide these workshops and classes and connect them with schools.

Q:  So, what is the secret to effective family and community engagement?

A: Linking to learning. Parent activities at schools should always be directly related to helping students learn. If we link our parent activities to learning, we can transform our parents into our most valuable academic partners.

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