The services of a Bilingual Parent Outreach & Engagement Coordinator is one that the Healdsburg Unified School District had long been eager to have, given the strong correlation between student achievement and parent engagement. Thanks to the John Jordan Foundation and their generous two-year commitment to launch this position during the 2018-19 School Year both at the Healdsburg Elementary and Fitch Mountain Campus, our schools are now building a foundation for greater communication, collaboration and support for our students and their families.
Erin Fender, HUSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction explains, “We know that engaging parents, particularly when students are young, and entering into a long-term partnership with families is crucial to our kids’ success. We are excited to collaborate more deeply and more authentically with all of our students’ families. We know it truly takes a village.” With offices at both elementary school campuses, the Coordinator’s central role is to facilitate greater communication and information sharing, and to empower HUSD families to become advocates for their student’s education.
Central to this effort is learning from parents what resources would be most helpful for them in order to show up more fully for their students, and prioritizing those needs. On the school front, this has included workshops on how to read report cards, understand the tests their students are taking, and learn how to make informed decisions about their student’s education based on that child’s individual needs. It also means encouraging more parents to volunteer in the classroom, take home books to read with their children, and learn strategies for helping their children work through difficult topics. For other families, the most immediate needs may be related to food security, medical care, housing, childcare, early childhood education, adult education, English as a Second Language (ESL), financial literacy, immigration information, etc. In these instances, the Coordinator refers them to local organizations offering assistance and guides them through the process of acquiring the resources they need.
After a strong first year that saw increased parental engagement both in workshop attendance and in volunteering, the role of Parent Outreach & Engagement Coordinator is now expanding and gaining traction among the families. There is a greater sense of community within the schools, and our families are feeling more empowered to participate in their student’s education. The Healdsburg Education Foundation and Healdsburg Unified School District is deeply grateful to the John Jordan Foundation for their continued partnership, for understanding the value of this role, and for investing in bringing this vision to life.