2015 Parents As Partners

Benjamin Gaines

Rancho Minerva Middle School
2015 Winner for Parents as Partners Award
About Parents as Partners Award

Engages parents and caregivers in creative ways to support student learning in and outside the classroom.

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 Challenge: Rancho Minerva has worked hard to bridge the digital divide through the Digital Promise Verizon Program. However, we wanted to solve the gap between parents and the school. Knowing we have connected them digitally, how might we connect families to our school, and instill a sense of empathy into our teachers on behalf of the families? Parents as Partners: The administration from Rancho Minerva set out on an audacious plan to transform what would be a normal professional development into a true community building event. On the teacher's first day back, the team from Rancho Minerva set up home visits to bridge the gap between the school and families. The visits were set up to build relationships. Knowing that parents need to be a part of the dialogue and not just be recipients of behavior reports, grades, and reminders of important dates, the team set up visits for all faculty and staff members to participate in. They wanted the parents to have an active role in the learning experience of thier children and getting to know the teachers better is key to this challenge. They wanted the parents to know how to play a bigger and more effective role in the learning journey with their kids. Each team of 4-5 teachers/staff members set out into the neighborhoods, where many were afraid to drive through. Teams visited homes for nearly an hour, asking questions, and connecting with each family. The purpose was to welcome each family to the new year, learn from each family and challenge them to be active participants in their childs education. After the visit, the teams invited the families to a local part to share a meal. The time was a wonderful success as we built a lasting bridge between many families.

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

As a result of our Community Outreach activity, our teachers have not been the same! Teachers left with a better understanding of the need to educate the "whole" child. Teachers left with a sense of the conditions in which their very students live, work and complete the homework. Teachers understood the value of building a community. A sense of empathy was established and teachers left that day changed. Qualitative data was gathered through surveys. Teachers remarked, "This was the best day of my teaching career". Another teacher remarked, "I knew that many of our students lived in bad conditions, but seeing it in person really hit home." A Digital Promise storyteller stated, "More schools need to do this. Schools need to have a plan to make these connections." Lastly, another teacher remarked, "Today reinforced that relationships are the foundation of all we do!!! Thank you RMMS!!! So honored to be a part of the team!!!" A week following the event, parents were on campus helping with events. The parent interviewed in the video stated, "I have never seen a school like this, you guys are so different, I am so happy my daughter attends here". Through the qualitative feedback from teachers, Digital Promise folks and parents, this event marked a true victory for bridging the parent divide. Rancho Minerva is committed to overcoming the gaps that separate parents from our school through such audacious plans. This event was not easy to pull off, we battled fears, unions, city ordinances, and other obstacles, but as evidenced through the video submitted, Rancho Minerva is on the cutting edge of partnering with parents to empower their youth. Through this experience, RMMS is now partnering with Digital Promise to bring Adult Education to our parents to empower the to be leaders at home.