"Learning Community charter school takes its message to parents" ran in today's ProJo--it's an overview of the great-sounding community and family outreach work that the Central Falls charter Learning Community , which serves students in K-5 from Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls, is doing. Teachers and staff from the school are intentionally developing a wide range of ways to connect to family members, moving beyond events at the school to outreach in students' neighborhoods.
A few key points about the school's successful family outreach jump out:
1. The school sees family members as an essential asset for accomplishing its goals with students.
2. Cultural competence: school staff members understand families' backgrounds, constraints due to work and family responsibilities, language backgrounds, and possible trepidation toward school, and plan ways to connect with families that overcome those challenges
3. The school has focused profession development for community outreach, building the capacity of staff members to reach outside the school and connect with parents to give them a "toolbox" of options to use.
4. Clearly, the definition of the kind of work that belongs in a teacher and staff member's day isn't rigidly limited, but rather is established by agreement at the school site level. Teachers do what works for their school rather than adhering strictly to a contract imposed systemwide (not knocking unions there--unions and autonomy can and very much should coexist).
I'd love to hear more from any Learning Community educators, staffers, or family members who come across this. I hope that we can find ways for the public school systems of Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls (and elsewhere) to learn from and adapt your methods of community and family engagement. Congratulations on your success!