Fostering Family Engagement through Shared Leadership in the District, Schools, and CommunityReport as inadecuate

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Voices in Urban Education, n44 p6-13 2016

Collaboration is tough even in ideal circumstances. How do you begin to effect change when nearly half of the families in a district speak a language other than English in the home, but traditional education models rarely emphasize the strengths of cultural or linguistic diversity? Or when nearly all students live in low-income families and face social and economic challenges beyond the classroom? The "We Are A Village" initiative began in 2013 as a collaboration--funded by a U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) grant--between the Rhode Island, Central Falls School District (CFSD), Children's Friend (providing Head Start and preschool), Bradley Early Childhood Clinical Research Center, and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. The project focused on improving school readiness and academic achievement in five schools that serve young children, from preschool to third grade, using strategies recommended in the Head Start Family and Community Engagement framework and embedding the evidence-based Incredible Years (IY) Teacher Classroom Management and Parenting programs. "Village" draws on the knowledge that collaborative relationships between families and schools, and between schools and community agencies, can greatly benefit children. A culture of collaboration set the standard for the entire district, valuing the resources, energy, time, and expertise of school personnel, families, and the community. In Central Falls, they discovered that the work of true family engagement can be slow, hard, and painful at times, but very rewarding.

Descriptors: School Districts, Low Income, English (Second Language), Second Language Learning, Cultural Differences, Program Descriptions, Partnerships in Education, Grants, Disadvantaged Youth, Preschool Education, School Readiness, Academic Achievement, Elementary School Students, Classroom Techniques, Community Involvement, Educational Change, Parent Education, Family School Relationship, Public Agencies, Instructional Leadership

Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. Brown University, Box 1985, Providence, RI, 02912. Tel: 401-863-7990; Fax: 401-863-1290; e-mail: AISR_info[at]; Web site:

Author: Martinez, Patricia; Wizer-Vecchi, Joshua


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