Learning Communities for D.C. Family Engagement Staff
April 19, 2019

PIE Network member PAVE (Parents Amplifying Voices in Education) is working to empower D.C. school leaders to strengthen relationships with the families and communities they serve.

In the fall of 2017, PAVE established the first Professional Learning Community (PLC) for family and community engagement staff at area schools and agencies. After its first successful year, the PLC has grown to include two cohorts. The first, Cohort 1.0, is designed to help schools unlock the potential of the long-term work of informing and deeply engaging families. Cohort 2.0, for folks that have already completed one year as part of the PLC, is focused on amplifying parent power by giving schools the tools and best practices to organize and build parent leaders as advocates.

“I am becoming more confident in the work I do and growing a stronger voice for my families because of the work we are doing in the PLCs.”

In the third year of the PLC, 33 public charter family and community engagement staff meet monthly with their cohorts, and both cohorts come together for an all-day, cross-cohort session three times per year, bringing in staff who work with families and communities from local state agencies like the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the State Board of Education, the Deputy Mayor for Education’s Office, and District of Columbia Public Schools’ Central Office. Their most recent cross-cohort session in April focused on coalition building toward equity.

“I’ve used PLCs to lead family engagement efforts with a focus around equity in hopes of developing more meaningful, focused, and impactful connections between our staff and parent partners.”

Kenya Bradshaw, Vice President of Community Engagement and Policy at PIE Network partner TNTP joined the cohorts and state agency partners in April, along with Alex Cortez, Managing Partner at New Profit, and Ambika Kapur, a Program Officer with the Carnegie Corporation’s Education program. They each presented on the research their organizations have done about how to better address all four components of what PAVE has identified as a critical model for family and community engagement in DC’s schools and education system: informing families, deepening engagement with families, building coalitions of families through organizing, and allowing families to amplify their voices as advocates.

PAVE’s advice to other organizations hoping to start a similar experience in their city: find out where the gap is in your community. Leaders at PAVE heard from families that in order for family engagement to be successful, the education system must address multiple levels of relationships: the relationship between families and teachers, families and school leaders, families and school networks, and finally families and the education system as a whole. In D.C., PAVE noticed a gap at the third level relationship, and focused on supporting parent and family engagement with school networks to fill that void.

PAVE will host both Cohort 1.0 and 2.0 again next year. You can find more information on their site.

Interested in connecting with PAVE to learn more about the program design? Reach out.

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Ashley Schmidt

Ashley is PIE Network's Senior Director of Member Engagement & Communications

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