Proactive Parent and Community Engagement

 Part 3: Proactive Parent and Community Engagement

Happy Thanksgiving! This week’s message is not my usual Thanksgiving message about gratitude even though an “attitude of gratitude” continues to be an ideal I seek. Instead, I will continue with the third of four concepts from my Convocation address. If you are seeking a little Thanksgiving inspiration, I recommend this Time Magazine article entitled, “How Gratitude Can Change Your Life This Thanksgiving” at http://time.com/3605821/thanksgiving-gratitude/?xid=time_socialflow_twitter. Now, on to the importance of proactive parent and community engagement. As a reminder, sentences in italics are GFPS belief statements which can be found here: http://www.gfps.k12.mt.us/content/mission.

As you are aware, Daggett points out that high performing districts recognize the art of teaching as well as the importance of student motivation. He also points out that Proactive Parent and Community Engagement are keys to success. Through regular outreach, rapidly improving schools engage parents and community members in dialogues around a variety of topics in order to gain their understanding of educational challenges and subsequently, their support of educational solutions. These schools seek engagement at times that are convenient to families and community members, and in environments where the families and community members are most comfortable. Thanks to our schools and staff members who do home visits as they are a perfect example of this tenant. Thanks to all of you who take a moment to make phone calls during the evening or other convenient times for parents. Thanks to our committed staff members who attend IEP and other parent conferences and meetings when working parents can be present. Thanks to all of you who represent GFPS at community engagements that happen during the evenings, summers and weekends.

High performing districts also make the work of education visible to the community. This is why I have challenged our administrators to find ways to invite neighbors into our schools, especially those who don’t have family members attending school at this time. It’s why we tell our story through social media like Twitter and Facebook, and why we engage with traditional media outlets as well. It’s why we have parent and community representatives on improvement teams. It’s why we have advisory panels for Indian Education, Career and Technical Education, the four quadrants of Graduation Matters, PTA Boards, and so on. It’s why we involve the community in budget and facility discussions. It’s why I invite you to march in the 4th of July community parade. GFPS believes that quality education is a partnership of students, staff, family and community engagement.

Proactive and meaningful parent and community engagement takes work. It takes time outside the school day and classroom. It takes patience and enthusiasm. It takes strategic action. And it takes constant attention because it’s not an event. You can’t just check it off a list. It requires ongoing and continuous effort, but I believe an effort worth expending. Just like extending gratitude, parent and community engagement connects and energizes. Please know that I am thankful for each of you and the work you do. I wish each of a wonderful Thanksgiving break. I hope you have time to recharge your batteries as we move into the month of December. A month that will surely provide a myriad of opportunities to engage parents and community members.

Take care. Be safe. Stay well.
Tammy