We Are Family

Barbara Nemko

Napa County Office of Education
2014 Winner for We Are Family Award
About We Are Family Award

Engages parents and caregivers by offering them educational opportunities at school or by providing resources that enable learning outside of school.

Provide an overview of the project, practice or product that your video represents, and how your work encompasses the principles and ideals of the award that you're applying for.

The Napa County Office of Education (NCOE), led by County Superintendent of Schools Barbara Nemko, offers services to meet community needs. This has led to the increasing use of digital tools - and easier accessibility from home – creating family partners in student learning.

23 years ago, NCOE identified a need to provide parents with a forum for learning. The NCOE Parent Workshop series developed for families to learn about resources, reinforce learning at home, and meet the social/emotional needs of children. To entice tired parents to attend, the workshops include dinner, and are filmed for television and streaming. Topics have ranged from brain development, stranger safety, and college financial aid. Increasingly, online and digital programs have become the focus including online career planning and digital academic resources. Footsteps2Brilliance, a digital early literacy program, has allowed NCOE to partner with the family in closing the achievement gap and improving kindergarten readiness. Napa recently began the first countywide rollout of a digital early literacy program in the nation. The e-books and games in Footsteps2Brilliance can be accessed in the classroom and home. The program provides parents and teachers with immediate feedback on a child’s learning levels. To ensure access to all families with a preschool aged child, NCOE partnered with non-profit NapaLearns to provide a rent-to-purchase device program, and the Footsteps2Brilliance application at no cost.

NCOE has a long standing commitment to college and career readiness, including robust Career Technical Education classes offered at high schools. Beginning in 2013, NCOE began to rollout the Naviance College and Career program to students in 8-12 grade. The web -based program allows teachers and counselors to work with students on career exploration and college preparation, and for families to access the program from home tracking their student’s choices and progress.

Explain the long-lasting impact of what you've presented in this video, and provide any qualitative or quantitative data that supports this impact.

The California Department of Education has identified 19 studies that offer compelling evidence of a link between parent involvement activities and student achievement. The Napa County Office of Education (NCOE) incorporates family engagement into its programs to maximize student success.

The NCOE Parent Workshop series has presented 115 workshops in 23 years. Approximately 1,700 parents, teachers and community members have attended. As a result, students have had increased access to programs such as the ed1stop online education portal and summer enrichment programs due to increased parent exposure to resources.

A pilot program for the English/Spanish Footsteps2Brilliance was established in Napa County in 2011. Sixteen English learners with no preschool experience enrolled in a four week “camp” prior to kindergarten. The students used iPads to access the program, and parents could take them home to work with students. In four short weeks comprehension scores went from 11 to 76.4 percent, and parent engagement increased. As four kindergarten classes continued the next year, all students made statistically significant pre-post growth on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test in expressive and receptive language. Since the launch in March 2014 with an in-perpetuity countywide license, more than 807 Napa County preschoolers have begun using the program. By June 30 preschool aged children throughout Napa County had more than 4 million words read to them through the program, and as of September 2014 that number has grown to 6 million. Targeted outreach to families is contributing to continued growth.

NCOE launched the first countywide implementation of the online Naviance College and Career Readiness program in October 2013. NCOE partnered with local school districts to fund for all middle and high school students. Over 8,000 students have completed activities in the program since implementation in October 2013. By 2015 NCOE expects to be serving over 10,000 students.