FACE – Charter Parents & Teachers Work Together to Build Community
by Mary Jensen, Administrator & High School Principal
Several Forrest M. Bird Charter School (FBCS) teachers attended Idaho’s first Family and Community Engagement Conference in the fall of 2016, and they were inspired. Not only were the concepts covered during the conference already ingrained FBCS’s philosophy of building a positive school community, but the conference also brought forth ideas to enhance the school’s relationships with families.
By the spring of 2017, staff members strongly embraced the importance of building stronger relationships with the families, and began the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) team, which is filled with parents and teachers working together.
Eric Fulgenzi, High School Foreign Language teacher, summarized the importance of the FACE group to staff members. “By getting families in our school, providing them with much-needed services and showing them that everyone at the school is an ally rather than an adversary, we can open doors and new thought patterns that may have never seemed possible. After all, no child is an island.”
Lyndsay Holland, part-time math high school math teacher, eagerly agreed to be the main staff contact of the FACE team in the spring of 2017. Because FACE quickly grew in family membership, Audra Mearns, middle school history teacher, agreed to help Ms. Holland coordinate FACE meetings and events. FACE quickly proved itself to become a valuable addition to the school community.
One of the goals of FBCS FACE was to develop better family relationships with the school and community, while also providing valuable services. After months of planning, FACE members presented the first annual Family Summit at FBCS in October, which coincided with fall Parent/teacher Conferences.
The purposeful date and time allowed for parents to experience the Family Summit for the first time, while also speaking with teachers about their students’ educational progress. Not only did FACE provide a free meal for the families with the help of the Interact Club and the local Rotary, the team also snapped free family portraits, which were printed and distributed to families.
In addition, many community businesses and services provided informational booths and presentations throughout the evening. For example, the Department of Labor provided information not only about how students can excel after high school, but also provided information for parents looking to enhance their own job opportunities. A local doctor’s office provided free vision and vitals screenings, as well as offering flu vaccinations to people who would like them. Other booths included North Idaho College, Bonner County Library, PTECH, Lillybrooke Family Justice System, and Sandpoint Youth Center.
The Family Summit was quickly deemed a success by the community presenters, families and staff. Parents voiced their appreciation of all aspects of the Family Summit, and the presenters expressed how proud they were to help give back to the families in such a positive manner. With the positive feedback and an eye to the future, the FACE team is already planning the 2018 Family Summit event, as well as other methods to link families, the school and the community together.