Written by: Pam Newsome and Stefania Giannella
Building relationships between school-day and out-of-school time (OST) staff benefits not only school climate and culture, but also youth. When that relationship-building is paired with family engagement, the possibility of success dramatically increases.
Crosspointe Elementary Principal Dr. Ann Marie Dilbert, Parent Liaison Courtney Roper, and OST Director Abeer Khalfa recently shared their best practices.
First, said Dr. Dilbert, it’s essential to have the right person helping facilitate family engagement. The school was able to invest Title 1 dollars in family engagement, and Crosspointe’s award-winning parent liaison has used immense care and respect to connect school-day and OST with both students and families. Ms. Roper, a former Crosspointe ESE teacher who has been on campus for the past six years, “connects the outside of the school to the inside” by building trust with families and the community.
She offered her “top three tips” on how best to engage families around SEL content:
– Take extra time and effort to build relationships with students and their families by treating everyone as an equal.
– Host Family Nights and increase parent recognition by featuring pictures of families on the wall and creating a warm and friendly atmosphere.
– Using a “tag-team” approach to help families understand that school-day and OST staff are delivering SEL content together.
Crosspointe’s best practice for promoting school-day and OST coordination (from “7 a.m. to 7 p.m.”) is to plan, but stay flexible, since the participation and needs of staff are constantly changing. Ms. Khalfa explained how Crosspointe has increased 7 to 7 coordination. Through its Dine Together initiative, the school hosted lunches where school-day and OST staff built relationships. Other highlights from this initiative included sing-alongs and basketball activities.
As a result, Crosspointe staff have reported benefits such as:
– Stronger relationships between school-day and OST staff
– Feeling more engaged and connected to each other
– Feeling their voices and ideas are valued
Thank you to Crosspointe staff for sharing strategies to increase family engagement through an active parent liaison, along with staff relationship-building and fun!