Parental engagement is important at any time but especially in our district. Understandably, trust was broken when Duquesne was declared financially distressed in 2007 and subsequently displaced students in grades 7 - 12 to neighboring school districts. The good news is that beginning in 2021, students in grades 7 and 8 have returned. Since, building trust has been our highest priority.
In our generational community, parents want to know what’s different (better) than when they went to school so we created an event to draw the community to the school. Our team coordinated a Resource Fair that brought in numerous community stakeholders and resources. At the same time, we were holding our annual parent-teacher conferences. That day was a double win for any parent who was in the school. They could meet with their child's teacher and then take a short walk to the gym to be face-to-face with community supports, even job opportunities. Teachers had asked parents to identify the kinds of information they wanted to know about. Translators for second language learners helped too. It was an active scene, complete with a modest array of foods. Everything converged to convey a healthy liveliness and regard for our families.
Given the success of the Resource Fair, we scaled deeper the next time and brought academics to the forefront. The "Dukes Showcase" gave parents an opportunity to see their children's work and their involvement in learning activities that reflected modern day priorities like maker spaces, an e-sports lab, STEAM and World of Work. Teachers showcased their students and then students reflected their learning to parents. This was intentional because we understand that student engagement and learning will go a long way toward rebuilding relationships and the trust of parents. We take pride in our community, and showing that our school is on a renewed and rigorous learning path is essential.
Begin by asking your parents what they want in terms of resources and supports. With that info, tap into the natural resources that exist in your community, and beyond. The organizations that participated in the Resource Fair were free for the asking. Pairing the activity with another big draw gives families more reason to participate. It's a rewarding and productive use of time in the end.