Making sure that parents feel welcomed and valued at their children’s schools is a key component of HISD’s Family Friendly Schools program, and that’s why the district’s Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Department recently recognized four campuses for their successful implementation of that program.
“By involving partners in activities linked to students’ learning, the Family Friendly Schools certification program helps schools build and maintain positive relationships with families and communities,” said Jorge Arredondo, assistant superintendent of FACE.
The four schools honored are:
- Fondren Middle School, which has achieved the Silver certification level, with 11 stars accredited, and is well on its way to achieving Gold certification this school year. Just a few of the activities organized by this campus to increase parent involvement include: a Literacy Night, a Thanksgiving clothing and food drive, the formation of a PTO, and the enhancement of the Shared Decision Making Committee.
- Brookline Elementary School, which is also well on its way to earning Gold certification, has 10 stars accredited. Brookline made itself more family friendly this year by having all faculty and staff members complete a workshop on the subject of “trust through communication,” organizing a campus walk-through to experience the school as a new visitor might, and inviting parents to use the computers in the recently updated parent center.
- Bell Elementary School, which has earned the Silver certification, has set a goal of reaching the Gold certification by the end of this school year. The faculty keeps parents involved in their children’s learning by coordinating philanthropic activities such as a collection for UNICEF that incorporated a geography lesson, physical activities such as Turkey Trot and Jingle Bell runs, and a monthly literacy night.
- Tijerina Elementary School has already earned the Bronze certification and needs only one more star to earn its Silver certification. This Academic Parent-Teacher Teams (APTT) campus places a high priority on parent involvement. It even conducted a parent perception survey, which the faculty analyzed at the start of the school year to identify ways to improve. The school also offers free English as a Second Language classes for parents and has parent volunteers read to students on a regular basis.
“I was motivated to implement the Family and Friends Program because of its focus on parental engagement, which aligns with one of the tenets of our school mission – collaboration,” said Bell Elementary Principal Edrick Moultry. “We are building relationships with our parents that yield more participation with our school activities and increase their willingness to work together to make sure our students are successful.”
The FACE Department created the Family Friendly Schools program to increase parents’ engagement with their children’s schools through analysis of the school environment, workshops for faculty and staff, and consultation and coaching on family and community engagement. For the 2015–2016 school year, 26 campuses registered to become certified as Family Friendly Schools. Principals who wish to enroll their campuses for the coming school year are encouraged to visit www.HoustonISD.org/FFSchools.