Last week the U.S. Department of Education (ED) hosted its first ParentCamp USA with over 200 participants from across the country.
The ParentCamp participants joined ED staff to build relationships, network, and talk about the issues parents face every day. ParentCamp, like the EDCamp “unconference” model for educator engagement and professional growth, provides an opportunity for families to engage in facilitated conversations that are of interest to them. Conversation topics were generated by registered participants with other topics added to the conversation board as people gathered for the day’s activities. Through discussions and sharing, parents and educators came away from sessions with effective ideas used in other parts of the country. It was a wonderfully, positive experience with many participants planning on hosting ParentCamps in their own communities.
While we know that families are children’s first and most important teacher, advocate, and nurturer, they are not necessarily seen as the experts when it comes to educating their children. Families may be the most important resource educators have for supporting positive outcomes for all children, and yet, they are often the most underutilized asset a district or school could have. It is our hope that ParentCamp USA will start conversations and build the relationships needed to create purposeful family, school, and community partnerships to improve schools and student outcomes.
Over the coming months, ED is committed to hosting and participating in ParentCamps across the country and to gathering and disseminating the tools and resources states, districts, schools and families need to build meaningful partnerships. We understand that great work is happening all across the country and want to hear your stories of successful family, school and community engagement. It is our hope that every educator will have the knowledge, tools and support they need to meet the hopes and dreams that every parent has for his or her child. After all, it doesn’t just take a village to raise a child; it takes a village to educate a child.
You can find more information about the Department’s October 26th ParentCamp USA on our Facebook page.
Please check back for more information coming soon on how you can share your stories and be a part of a movement to support family, school and community partnerships in your community.
Tell Us Your Story
One of the best ways to start the conversation is through the exchange of best practices. In the form below, tell us about a successful family engagement program in your community and we’ll share it with our readers.
Vicki Myers is a Special Assistant in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.