Families as Partners

October 2020 Newsletter

Big picture

Dear Community,

As we move into the new school year, we want to reiterate our commitment to growing and supporting our school-family partnerships. While we have missed seeing your faces and connecting with you in-person, we have been working hard to adapt our programming to today's unique challenges and opportunities. During these past months, we are proud to have seen how our communities helped each other through the new challenges that we had to face. We invite you to take some time to read our newsletter and learn about the work we have done, where we are headed this academic year, and the resources available to families.

TA Brown's Principal Sharp, FAP Project Specialist,  Maria Rosas, Assistant Principal Williams and TA Brown Parent Support Specialist, Linda Perez

FAP Program Highlights

Families as partners is excited to support and work with 21 AISD school during this upcoming school year. We have expanded to 7 additional campuses in the 2020-2021 school year! We'd like to extend a warm welcome to Allison Elementary, Govalle Elementary, Houston Elementary, Linder Elementary, Rodriguez Elementary, Pecan Springs Elementary, and TA Brown Elementary. Thank you to the school Principals and Parent Support Specialists for facilitating and supporting this expansion. Families as Partners looks forward to creating and fostering trusting relationships with your school communities. Your commitment to parent engagement is truly inspiring!


We would also like to express our gratitude to Austin Edfund, Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation, St. David's Foundation, and other generous organizations for their continued support of the Families as Partners program.

Big picture

Welcome Parent Champions

Building parents’ sense of efficacy through the development of specific skill sets and capacities continues to be a primary objective of the FAP program. We, therefore, continue to identify and develop Parent Champions. This year we have three campus-level leadership roles: Administrative/Technology Support Coordinator, Social Emotional Learning Coordinator, Literacy/English as a Second Language Coordinator, and Newcomer Ambassadors. Parent Champions work closely with the Parent Support Specialist, school staff, and other parents on projects at their children’s school. Parent champions also develop others through a train the trainer model.


On October 2nd, 2020, Families as Partners held a virtual orientation to welcome over 50 parent leaders who have stepped up to be Parent Champions this 2020-2021 school year. While this virtual format was new, and at times more complicated, the Parent Champions showed up with enthusiasm and open minds. Parents were able to connect with other parents across the 21 schools and learn more about their roles, as well as the opportunities available to them through FAP. Additionally, parents spent some time learning about, and reflecting on, leadership with our guest speakers from the Girls Empowerment Network.


Overall, the orientation affirmed our confidence in our amazing parents, as we recognize that parents are their children’s first teachers and bring deep expertise about their lived experiences, their cultures, and the issues they care about.


Through our collaboration with the Austin Community College Continuing Education Division, we developed Computer Basic Courses that are focused specifically on the district parents' current needs. These courses will help parents connect with the AISD school district, administrators, and teachers, as well as support parents' abilities to help their children access online learning and complete online tasks.


This year, all Parent Champions will go through ten hours of the "Train the Trainer" technology course. Parents will participate in these learning opportunities to help support other parents with digital literacy. Parent Champions will learn how to help others access different educational websites and applications, including, but not limited to, Austin ISD Parent Cloud, Blend, and SeeSaw. Parent leaders trained in the course will have the opportunity to assist in the instruction of other digital literacy courses to gain experience supporting the Austin ISD parent community.

Parent Champion Model

To learn more about the Parent Champion Model click this link https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EQrW-hhiyY9e5aFvrqpMROy1Vd_YbB3X/view?usp=sharing

Big picture

Parent Voices and Perspectives

With all of the changes brought on by Covid-19, our program and our families have had to quickly adapt to this new normal. Families as Partners has witnessed families across the district demonstrate patience, flexibility, and creativity during these trying times. We had the opportunity to have a conversation with a former Technology Parent Champion, Dulce Chavez, about her experience these past months.


When schools began to shift to virtual programming in the Spring, Dulce used the expertise she had gained from earning her Office Assistant Certificate at ACC, and her community network, to assist parents and teachers at McBee Elementary School, where her 11-year-old son Jordan was enrolled. She helped parents and teachers alike navigate the speedy transition. When Jordan started virtual school this Fall, she shifted her attention to supporting his needs. Dulce shared that online school was difficult at first, as both she and Jordan were learning an entirely new platform and schedule, but that didn’t stop her from taking on the challenge. “I have learned that I know how to teach myself more than I thought,” she reflected. We certainly agree!


Dulce created an individualized system for Jordan that included a unique visual schedule, for his synchronous and asynchronous classes, and preset alarms to help him stay on track. This resourceful system has been a huge success in their household, as she noted that Jordan is demonstrating a higher level of independence and productivity, but Dulce didn’t stop there.

In the spirit of helping others, she posted a video about the visual schedule she created on her social media pages in hopes that other parents might benefit from this tool. She was correct! Since the post, parents have been reaching out to her to learn how they can create similar aides for their children. Dulce takes the time to assist them however they might need it, either by sending templates or taking time out of her schedule to meet with them. Although Dulce expressed how much she misses volunteering and being at school with parents and teachers, she has remained true to the essence of the program by being a leader and sharing her expertise and knowledge in support of other parents, not only in her community but also in other schools.


In addition to caring for her community, Dulce has also implemented some essential self-care strategies to bring her and her family joy. When asked what she has learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, Dulce shared, “I’ve learned that family time is priceless.” She has enjoyed going for after-dinner walks with her son and husband to relieve stress. “We get to share what happened at my job, [my husband’s] job, Jordan’s school”, she says, “we get back and everything is so calm, it just clears your mind.” In a time when it is so easy to isolate and disconnect, Dulce exemplifies how our families are rising to the occasion and helping each other along the way.

Big picture

Upcoming Events


Resources

Visit AISD Website for a Wealth of Information and Resources

Big picture

BookSpring wants to help families read together!


Apply to receive free books and materials designed to enhance the motivation and interest in reading directly at home, by clicking the link below:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TdpdfCilfoCqF_UteUxEeQqQZpd2n47y/view?usp=sharing

Big picture

United Way for Greater Austin

Provides ConnectATX to find up-to-date COVID information and to get

connected to many community resources. To access information click this link. https://www.unitedwayaustin.org/connectatx/

Families as Partners is an Austin ISD initiative with the goal of creating sustainable and effective school family partnerships for academic success.