Parents who want to be more involved in Fort Worth ISD have new avenues to increase participation.
The Parent Partnerships department aims to help parents increase involvement on campuses through resources like the parent academy, volunteer opportunities and other tools.
For many parents, the time or financial commitment of joining a Parent Teacher Association isn’t feasible. The Parent Partnerships department can offer alternative ways to be on campus and more engaged in their student’s education.
Now in its second year, the department serves 108 elementary and middle school campuses, said Executive Director Marta Plata.
“The vision is to create the face of a campus for the parents,” Plata said. “Our purpose is to engage parents, to empower them to be the best advocates of their children, and then to elevate them.”
Plata said grades improve as communication with the family improves, which changes the trajectory of the family.
In March, classes for the parent academy include topics like the importance of attendance or hosting family board game nights. Staff also give parents tips for conducting effective parent-teacher conferences and talking to teens about cyberbullying or signs of abuse.
Classes are offered at various times and locations and in Spanish. Parents can find information on the classes online.
The department has parent engagement specialists at campuses who report on needs in the community, Plata said. Programming can change based on different needs. The department aims to offer resources like grief counseling, crime prevention classes or lessons on gang recruitment signs.
Over 2,000 parents have attended classes so far, Plata said.
“It’s really showing us that this is a real desire of parents and that they want to learn,” Plata said. “They want to know, ‘How do I help my child?’”
Plata said she also sees parents starting to develop support networks among themselves. Returning to classes and other programming develops a bond between the parents similar to the bonds students form with classmates.
She sees them sharing resources or looking out for each other’s kids, Plata said.
Increasing parental involvement is beneficial for the students, Plata said. When the student knows their parent is involved on campus, they have more confidence. There’s a difference in the way they carry themselves.
“It’s strengthening our communities, and they’re happy to be back in school,” she said. “But now, we want to reverse the roles so that the parent becomes the first and most important teacher in that child’s life.”
Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.