THE NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL BUILDER:Parent/Guardian Involvement

Sophia Saunders

CALM Society Member and Philadelphia Resident


The resources mentioned in this article are based on the Philadelphia School District, but the information is general for any school district.  Those are just a few starters for parents and guardians to consider.  Our children and school staff at all schools benefit so much when parents, guardians, and our community members are involved throughout the school year. 


Every parent or guardian is encouraged to be involved with the Home and School Association (HSA), School Advisory Council (SAC), Parent - Teacher Association (PTA), or Friends group. Those are some of the groups that are crucial to the success of our schools. Consider giving your time, share your talents, and /or financial support / make purchases to partner with the teachers at your child’s school. Find out their needs, and how you and your community members can help them. For those students without a support system, we should try to assist them as much as possible to succeed too.


Please refer to the following Philadelphia School District websites for more detailed information:


Family & Community Engagement - https://www.philasd.org/face/, also for interest in starting a “Friends of _____” Group.


https://www.philasd.org/face/sac/ - for interest in starting a SAC (School Advisory Council).  SACs are peer-elected, collaborative teams composed of family members, the school principal, teachers or other school-based staff, students


WHAT IF YOUR SCHOOL DOES NOT HAVE AN ACTIVE HOME AND SCHOOL ASSOCIATION?


Please refer to the following website for additional information at www.philadelphiahsc.org 


- Try to recruit at least 5 dedicated parent volunteers that will go through a nomination and voting process to become officers.  An active Home and School Association must have AT LEAST 2 officers (President and Treasurer).  However, it is strongly advised that you recruit other officers to serve in order to have a full executive board (Ex. Vice President(s) - up to 4 people, Secretary, etc.)  Once the officers have been voted in and approved by the Philadelphia Home and School Office.  It is strongly advised that you utilize other parent volunteers in committees (Ex. Room parent Coordinator, Fundraising, Advocacy, Public Relations, Special Events Chair, etc.)  This will make it easier to delegate tasks to do throughout the school year, and avoid burnout by the officers.


PROSPECTIVE PARENT / GUARDIAN OUTREACH


- Regular scheduled tours (Ex. - on First Tuesday of each month)

- Kindergarten Tea on a regular basis throughout the school year.

- Having playdates at parks or playgrounds in the area with current and prospective parents and students.


COMMUNICATION IN THE SCHOOL COMMUNITY (ADMINISTRATORS, TEACHERS, FAMILIES, AND STUDENTS)


- Have parents / guardians sign up at Parent Portal 

- Use of Class DOJO APP, Remind.com 

- HSA Listserv, Group emails

- Parent / Child events like parties, dances, picnics

- Weekly communication folders that always come home on the same day of the week (school-wide).

- Spirit fundraiser days. 

- Facebook page seems to be effective for comments and to organize as well. 


USING SOCIAL MEDIA


- GroupMe to create Parent Engagement

- Closed Facebook Page for different grade levels

- Create Facebook Event Reminders

- Action Alert Page (for All schools together) - local advocates can group together to respond to advocacy issues.


PARENT / GUARDIAN PARTICIPATION


- Reaching out to retirees in our community to help (CLEARANCES MUST BE UP TO    DATE)

- Attend parent / teacher conferences, IEP and other meetings

- Parent - Guardian / Teacher versus Student Talent Night

- Fundraisers that draw members of the Community

- Combine school event with community event in order to draw a bigger audience


STAFF APPRECIATION IDEAS:


- Teacher appreciation breakfast or lunch. 

- Teacher wish list at back to school night, an additional drive before breaks when parents come in for student portfolio review. If your school doesn't have events for parents to come in before the holiday breaks, have a constant google doc open to comments with teacher needs and wants remind page blast when a teacher adds items to a wish list.

- Some less money and time intensive ideas are to put little surprises like chocolate bars or thank-you cards in teacher mailboxes, or to ask local businesses if they’d like to offer coupons or other goodies.

- Some teachers would appreciate help setting up a Donors Choose. Others might like help sourcing free field trips, or they might need school supplies.  Asking teachers for a wish list is a great place to start.


Thank you in advance for your consideration!  Let’s continue to support our schools.

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