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Big Beaver Falls School District

Implementation of Meet the BFMS Staff

Parental Engagement







Target group
February 2024
We learned that parents do not feel welcomed and do not have an opportunity to be heard. The good news is they want to be a part of the school community - to have a voice. This is something we can tackle together.

About the implementation

The Big Beaver Falls School Area team wanted to find ways to involve families more and promote parent engagement among middle school parents and staff. We learned that families didn’t feel wanted nor did they feel like they were being heard by the school staff. Our hack intended to introduce families to a more comfortable way of connecting with parents and school staff.

What did you do in practice?

Our mini-hack, “Snack and Chat,” had been a meet and greet for the 6th grade staff and families. The bigger fall hack used the same idea but undertook it with the entire middle school on “Meet the BFMS Staff” night. All school staff, including support staff, were outside in front of the middle school at various stations. Parents and families could walk along the street, closed to traffic for the hour, and chat with their children’s teacher or teachers. Grade-level informational brochures were available for parents to take, as well as other easily available parent resources, music and food.

Why did you do this implementation trial?

Typically teachers and parents talk in formal ways, with the agenda prepared and guided by the teacher. In a trial run in the spring our mini-hack brought together the 6th grade staff and the incoming students and parents to encourage connections in a more informal and fun way. A guiding question was: How can we do this and make it fun not only for the students but our parent/school Parents as Allies team? We learned from that trial and it was the experience we needed to introduce the snack and chat idea to the entire middle school in the fall.


There was no pressure on teachers to follow a prepared agenda or to limit conversation to academics or issues of student performance. The short, one-hour event was easy, relaxed and organized for easy navigation, information-exchange and getting to know eachother better.

An initially hesitant school staff had positive comments afterwards.
Families enjoyed the different resources available for them.
We experienced the middle school’s biggest turnout ever for an event.
Staff socialized with each other and with families, and there was lots of laughter.

Learning Journey

We all need a North Star: An aspiration guided us
The collaborative work of our Parents as Allies team, our individual experiences in the district and the insights we each gained from the empathy interviews led us to agree on this aspirational statement: We will build opportunities for teamwork between families, educators and administrators to support student learning and wellbeing.
Where to start: Empathy interviews revealed a pathway for action
Empathy interviews were conducted during the design sprints by our team of school staff and parents, and helped us learn that the parents do not feel welcomed nor feel like they have any opportunity to be heard. Fortunately, we also learned that they want to be a part of the school community - more than they perceive the school allows them to be. Knowing that parents wanted more communication and more opportunities to be involved were positives upon which we could build.
The mini hack: The practice run we needed
The 6th grade Snack and Chat featured “All about Me” posters. Parents learned about the teachers and other school staff (where they went to school, their interests). Parents from all three elementary schools attended. The event was short, 30 minutes, included food and music. The teachers began to relax and it seemed their attitude shifted from “I don’t want to be here” to “I had a lot of fun!” We learned a lot from the mini-hack; it was just the practice run we needed to scale up the event.
Feedback: A reminder that students are at the heart of family and school engagement
Capping the two-month design sprint stage, we got creative and used our school and community resources to host a very successful parent engagement event. Said a parent on the team, “My heart was renewed and restored by the love and passion that parents, staff, and administrators have for our students. It was apparent through numerous conversations that our stakeholders share a common goal and focus for our school district - the students. That often gets lost in policy and regulations.


The Big Beaver Falls Area School District is a midsized, suburban public school district in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States. We serve the City of Beaver Falls, the Boroughs of Big Beaver, Eastvale, Homewood, Koppel and New Galilee and White Township. The district encompasses approximately 22 square miles.

Big Beaver Falls Area School District