Shaping Our Future by Leading Together

    How does one engage families in the education of their children?  

    Sometimes, that is the million dollar question.

    image of conferenceRhonda Mercs and Michelle Sherman focus on children and families through their work with the Urban Child Development Resource Center, a component of the University of Dayton Center for Catholic Education.  When presented the opportunity to attend the National Family and Community Engagement Conference June 22-24, they eagerly headed to Chicago to learn how other organizations across the country are successful with family engagement.

    The conference included a variety of breakout sessions that focused on evidence-based practices and leadership at all levels of family and community engagement with schools. Building productive partnerships between school, home, and community is key to reaching common goals for delivering the best education to all children.  Three examples of engaging families include focusing and empowering those family members who are already engaged so they feel the excitement of helping children.  When other families witness this excitement, the positive outcomes of lead families’ involvement can be a motivating factor for others to join in the engagement initiatives.  A second effective practice for engagement noted at the conference is parent-teacher home visits because they build trusting relationships between home and school.
    Third, if a parent training program is incorporated at a school, it is imperative to recognize in a public manner those who have participated.  A ceremony and/or some symbol of recognition makes families feel the importance of being involved in the education of their children and give them a sense of pride.  These few practical ideas motivated Rhonda and Michelle to energize parent/family initiatives in UCDRC schools.

    Rhonda and Michelle are involved with The Family Engagement Collaborative of the Miami Valley Region which funded their participation in the conference. The Collaborative is an organization created through the vision of Dr. Shauna Adams, Executive Director of the Center for Early Learning at UD, and Susan Ferguson, Director of the UD Center for Catholic Education, and is comprised of community organizations that emphasize engaging families to impact student learning.  The Collaborative is graciously funded by The Better Way Foundation.