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Highland, Let’s Bridge The Gap

Shared interests and experiences build bridges

Our elementary school has the most underprivileged kids in the district, behavior issues, a poor reputation and a disconnect between home and school. Our “bridge the gap” hack was a way to ignite interest, energy and relationship building. We held an event after Open House to engage the parents, teachers and students. Easy communication among these groups over pizza and ice cream was the aim.


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

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Target group
January 2024
Relationship building between home and school is a powerful pathway to addressing the disconnects we often see: Students who desire more support from teachers. Parents who expect the teachers to be disciplinarians. Teachers who want parent support at home with behavior improvement and homework, but find that parents are too busy.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Summing up the environment of the school, a parent noted: “When you walk into Highland, you’re not even greeted with a smile.” The focus was on bridging the gap between teachers, administration, parents and students, Our innovation served as a starting point to connect and bring people together in a fun and relaxed way.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Our team began by reaching out to every single member of the Highland Elementary school staff and inviting each to complete a get-to-know-you form. We asked for easily relatable information like: Where did you go to high school? What are your favorite free time activities? Then, our team made huge posters with all the information we’d received and hung them around the cafeteria. During the event, parents were able to read all about the Highland staff. To make sure that both parents, teachers, staff and students read each one, we had follow-up questions. Gift cards were the incentive for participating. The fun was multiplied with favorites like pizza and ice cream for dessert. The entire school was open for exploration and the fun facts parents and families had learned about the Highland staff provided some common ground for both to use in their classroom explorations.

How has it been spreading?

Events like the ones we’ve tried help to bring down the walls that separate parents and school and we hope to repeat and do more in the future. Also, given what we’ve experienced through Parents as Allies, we hope to form a new team at another of our elementary schools that is struggling with a possible school closure. New ideas and energy could be pivotal there. The principal at our school wants to continue to build relationships and let parents know that our doors are open. In fact, our parents are integral to their child's education and that’s a common interest to build upon.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

We benefitted immensely from a parent co-lead who was a link between school and families. She knew and understood both perspectives and even kept the team going when health issues sidelined two people. Strong lead people are a huge asset. It’s also noted that we were our school district’s second Parents as Allies team, which made it easier because there was experience to build upon.

Spread of the innovation

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