Strong parental and community engagement is key for an educational system to be great. Parents, Students, Community, and the School are all critical partners in the process of providing a quality education. I want to open up a conversation of how we can move beyond the traditional activities that are customarily done to something that creates a better partnership with increased student achievement.
Parent and Community engagement operates from a need’s assessment process. Basically, we seek to identify the needs of our community and find ways to mobilize resources to share. Marisa Saldana, the Natalia ISD Community Liaison, has enlisted several parents and community members to assist in improving our student academic outcomes through a comprehensive engagement parent committee. Through this committee, we have been able to provide over 2000 meals to the community, increase parental awareness of the curriculum and instruction through a parent resource site, gained parental input in the planning and advertisement of campus events and implemented the Watch Dogs’ program which increases student safety on campus. Last year we hosted our first annual Parent Symposium that aligned resources from several vendors based on information shared by our community. The event centered around the needs of Natalia and improving Student Academic Outcomes. This event was a success and we look forward to hosting it again this school year. Our focus is to include parents and guardians into the academic aspects of the District. By doing so, our students have a better opportunity to succeed academically because we are all one team. We encourage any parents/guardians or community members who wish to volunteer or get more information to please contact Mrs. Saldana at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-663-4416 ext. 7007.
While typical “open houses” serve a purpose and are needed, they don’t provide the opportunity for a stronger connection. We also want to provide dedicated time to dive deeper and focus on what your student is doing at their grade level with their specific teachers. We want you to know what they are learning, how they are learning, and what you might be able to do at home to assist. To begin this process, the Early Childhood Center along with the Elementary will begin this process by hosting nights by grade level. These nights have been tentatively set and will be coming out from campus administration soon: Kindergarten, November 12th; 1st Grade, November 15th; 2nd Grade, December 10th; 3rd Grade, November 27th; 4th Grade, November 29th; 5th Grade, November 14th. We hope these nights are well attended and look forward to making them better in subsequent years.
We are also increasing our communication to parents and the community in several ways. Our Natalia ISD webpage is undergoing a refresh behind the scenes to be a better resource for parents and the community and should be live soon. We will be fully pushing out our Natalia ISD application in both android and ios platforms soon. The application will allow parents to follow student grades, school calendars, lunch menus and district social media feeds (without needing to have a twitter or facebook account). Knowing that online postings do not reach all of our stakeholders, we started publishing the District Newsletter again this past year and mailing it out. In addition, we also began this weekly article in the newspaper from the Superintendent.
To wrap it up, the old saying that “It takes a village to raise a kid” holds true when describing what needs to happen in a community for students to be successful. We must be supportive of our students, teachers, administrators and board of trustees if we want to be great. I see this happening more with each passing day.