Superintendent takes 'glow and grow' approach to community engagement
- David W. Gaston, superintendent of Virginia's Charles City Public Schools, writes for eSchool News that his small, rural district took a "glow and grow" approach to gathering data around improving community investment in public schools and building closer relationships with students' families.
- Starting out "data poor" and with the knowledge that only 40-50% of the school community had internet access, the district set out to gather its initial data using paper surveys.
- To better understand the data during an all-staff session, teachers and staff were asked to identify one "glow" (or bright spot) in the data and one "grow," or area for improvement.
Engaging parents in the school community can have significant impacts on student engagement and outcomes. As with many things in education — and as Charles City Public Schools' case shows — there's also no one-size-fits-all approach for every district. While a study last year by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow showed parents preferring text messaging and mobile communication from schools, the socioeconomic realities of your particular community should also be taken into consideration. In a rural community with poor internet access, for example, email is probably not going to be the best answer.
And even for many school districts where a digital divide isn't a concern, face-to-face meetings still net the best results. Amid the District of Columbia's rising success in recent years has been a larger focus on home visits, which increased from 848 during the 2011-12 school year to 12,095 in 2015.
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