Community TIES IN Pilsen
& LITTLE VILLAGE
Turning Chicago into a Citywide Campus By Bringing Together the Cityâ€™s Great Learning Opportunities
Free & Affordable Activities
Hands-on Events & Online Challenges
Parks, Museums, Libraries & Community Organizations
Earn Digital Badges
Digital Badges Make All Learning Count
elcome to the special edition of P2P: Parent2Parent Magazine brought to you by the Chicago Public School’s Office of Leadership and Learning. P2P is designed to keep caring adults within CPS abreast of current educational trends and best practices in supporting student learning. It is our hope by keeping our parents informed they will serve as positive stewards in their child’s education. CPS is expanding its Parent University model to every Network within the District. Building on the five already open locations, all additional campuses will be ready by the Fall of 2017. In addition to Parent University locations, there will be five Parent University Training Centers throughout Chicago, which will offer similar services and resources as Parent Universities and will be run by parent volunteers. In this special edition of P2P, P2P staff highlights each Parent University site and Parent University Training Center around Chicago. Each article shares brief background and a snapshot of needs of the different communities as well as ways in which the Parent Universities help to educate and unify the community. You will read about how FACE Managers, Parent University Campus Managers, community members, and Principals are committed to providing educational opportunities in the midst of a generational learning gap and the need for technology advancement. For example, Parent University works with local community partners to offer programing like financial literacy, communication strategies and understanding Common Core. We look forward to taking this educational journey with you. It is our hope that you will find at least one nugget of wisdom, words of encouragement and best practices that you can utilize. If you have good news stories, events, programs or other information parents should know about, please send us the information by visiting http://goo.gl/forms/pz8822aZfa or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. fadaf
Dr. Shawn L. Jackson Chief, Office of Leadership and Learning
“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child's success is the positive involvement of parents.” - Jane D. Hull
Sarah Uhlarik Sarah lives in the Lakeview neighborhood. She’s studying graphic design and will be graduating from Columbia College in the Fall of 2017. Her dream job is being an Art Director for a food magazine. Her favorite thing about Parent University is seeing how the involvement of the parents positively impacts the students, the school and the entire community.
Omega Dyson Omega is a senior at Columbia College Chicago, who lives in Roseland on Chicago's South side. She aspires to be a creative public relations specialist in community relations, politics/activism, and arts/culture. To Omega, knowledge is crucial and her favorite thing about Parent University is seeing the parents taking time out of their busy schedule to continue to learn, better themselves, and find new hobbies to enjoy.
Amir Nijem Amir is a life-long Chicago resident, living on the Northwest side. He recently graduated from DePaul University with a degree in public relations. He wishes to pursue a career within the communications field at a government agency. One thing he truly admired working with Parent University is the passion each site demonstrates to ensure the future success of our children.
Special Thanks Forrest Claypool, CEO of Chicago Public Schools Dr. Janice Jackson, CEdO of Chicago Public Schools Denise Little, COO of Chicago Public Schools Frank Bilecki, Chief Officer of Public Policy of Chicago Public Schools
True Star Foundation Executive Directors DeAnna McLeary Sherman & J. Na-Tae’ Thompson Art Direction Design & Illustration Angel D’Amico-Bauer
Table of Contents PARENT UNIVERSITY LOCATIONS 6: Technological Advancements at a Neighborhood Level 7: South Shore's Keys to Success: Creativity, Culture and Technology 8: Parent Involvement Equals Student Success 9: Albany Park is Speaking Your Languageâ€ŚWhatever it May Be! 11: Becoming a Part of the Pullman History Book 12: Side-by-Side Learning Fosters Increased Parent Engagement in Bronzeville 13: Gage Park Parent University: Supporting Community Bonds 14: Meeting the Needs of the Community through Technology and Job Readiness 15: Bridging Learning through Technology, Partnerships and More 17: Creating Partnerships and Connecting Community on the Far North Side 18: Pilsen and Little Village Parent University: Advancing Community Ties 19: Fostering Relationships to Help Students Grow Academically (University Village) 20: Austinâ€™s One Stop Shop: Get What You Need and More
MORE RESOURCES 21: Parent Engagement Centers: Having a Seat at the Table 22: Parent University Ambassadors Leading Communal Advancement 23: Parent University Training Centers: Cultivating Leaders
Parent 2 Parent 5
ADVANCEMENTS at a Neighborhood Level
shburn is a community that is resilient to change. Located on the far Southwest Side, Ashburn is at the mouth of the Chicago River and several railways, which allowed for the community’s industrial landscape to take shape and begin the community identity. Chicago's first airport, the Ashburn Flying Field, opened in 1916 and positioned Chicago as an aviation center. The population of Ashburn transformed following World War II but gave the community a new growth industry, the housing market. In addition, Ashburn has made significant changes in recent years with more African-American and Hispanic families moving in and allowing for the multitude of ethnicities and diversity that Chicago has to offer. William J. Bogan High School, located in Ashburn, has also evolved by incorporating 1:1 technology for students. The purpose is to create a learning environment where students take ownership of their device and their own learning by having unlimited access to classroom resources and materials. 6 Parent 2 Parent
In the summer of 2017, Parent University will be proud to call Bogan High School home. Parent University will build on Bogan’s current practices of heavily incorporating technology into learning and working with parents on post-secondary strategies for their children such as dualenrollment with neighboring Daley College. Principal Alahrie Aziz-Sims has high hopes and expectations for the new Parent University. Principal Aziz-Sims said, “Our community supports our school greatly and I hope Parent University will offer a concrete solution for further support.” Principal Aziz-Sims hopes that Parent University will encourage parents to understand the importance of parental leadership. “I want more parental facilitation, in other words, I want Parent University to be the foundation for other parents to become leaders within our community.” Sonia Castro, FACE Manager for Network 10 said, “I envision Parent University as a community resource center that meets the needs of the parents and community. Finding community partners to work with us will really enhance the resources we can offer parents.”
South Shore's Keys to Success: Creativity, Culture AND TECHNOLOGY
outh Shore has had some of the most notable residents such as former First Lady, Michelle Obama and music artist, Kanye West. Before these icons emerged, the community was home to British American railway and steel workers. Then, in the 1950’s, African-Americans began to migrate into the community. Throughout its history, the South Shore community has been one for fostering creative minds and cultural advances. The South Shore CPS Parent University at Bouchet Elementary aims to continue this tradition. Chasda Martin is the FACE Manager for Network 12. “The Parent University will give them a platform to create their own development and path. It will help them develop their own goals,” he says. “It is a space where parents and students have side-by-side learning in real time, collaborating in untraditional ways. They can learn from each other because there are multiple ways to look at a problem,” Martin says. Mobile app technology such as Meetapp, and business/ digital incubator partnerships will be the focus at the South Shore Parent University. Being the President of the Annie B. Jones Community Services, Inc., Victoria Brady, sees the impact the Parent University will have on
the community. “What is being offered is meaningful to the parents. Anything that has potential to build up the parent, has the potential to build up the household. When that’s built up, then the community can rise too.” she says. South Shore’s Parent University will show its involvement and engagement with the community members by listening and individualizing their classes to the needs of the community. “Children live in a different world in terms of technology so anything that can help both parents and children to meet in the middle is a great value,” Brady says. The South Shore Parent University will continue to spark creativity, foster education, and digitally advance its community members by tailoring the classes to the parents. It is about fostering ideas and developing goals, which the South Shore Parent University can then offer resources for parents and community to meet these goals. Parent 2 Parent 7
Equals Student Success
umboldt Park was once a magnet for Chicago’s growing immigrant populations. Each new immigrant population brought with them unique cultural traditions. Like so many Chicago neighborhoods, Humboldt Park is overcoming obstacles like crime, poverty and low school achievement. With the opening of the Parent University in Roberto Clemente High School, the hope is to achieve student growth by empowering parents and community members. The Humboldt Park Parent University was opened in April of 2015 and was the first Parent University to work in partnership with the CPS Safe Passage program. One of the goals of the Parent University is to bridge the learning gap along generational lines. By using technology as a tool to help parents learn and grow in a similar fashion as their children, Parent University aims to bridge the technological literacy gap. Juan Maldonado, Senior Campus Manager, said, “Parent University is a free resource and a good start for the community to improve their quality of life.” 8 Parent 2 Parent
The Latino community the Parent University serves has unique challenges in community engagement, such as language barriers. Parent University is helping shorten the technological literacy gap by offering translation support, keyboard training, email setup and resume building for parents. The Humboldt Park Parent University is also partnered with City Colleges of Chicago in offering GED programs for parents. Maria Concepcion, an education specialist and active community member, said, “More people, within and outside of the community, perceive Clemente as a positive resource. It's also an indirect recruitment source for the school. It has positive community impact, it gives a sense that the school cares about parent development and is interested in bringing the community in.” Principal Marcey Sorensen at Clemente said, “The more our parents are involved in school, the better students do, it’s really a very simple equation.” By empowering parents and community leaders through the Parent University, it will in turn empower the students. By creating these opportunities for parents to learn and change their outlook on education, it will inspire parents as they hold an essential role in helping their children succeed.
is Speaking Your Language…
WHATEVER IT MAY BE!
hough Chicago has reputation for being a segregated city, the Albany Park community is one of its most diverse neighborhoods. It is known for having the most first generation American residents, the majority from South America, Asia and the Middle East. The Albany Park community is divided into three neighborhoods: Albany Park, Mayfair, and North Mayfair. It has more than 36 active community organizations that help promote multicultural inclusion. In addition, CPS Is opening a Parent University in Grover Cleveland Elementary School to aid growth in the Albany Park community. “The principal leverages the partnerships she has with community organizations and uses them as resources for literacy and math,” says Alexandra Lopez, Director of Leadership and Learning. The Parent University will bridge the language and technology gap for the community. It will also act as a model for the school. “When you have that side-by-side learning, there is a better understanding of technology at home and we’re giving them the space to have access to resources,” she says. Most of the parents in the community are hands-on, visual learners and Parent University will cater to them.
Bonnie Werstein is the Director of Operations at the Boys and Girls Club that works closely with Cleveland Elementary. She understands the needs of the community include navigating the school system, immigrant family resources and preparing for the college process. By better understanding what CPS is able to provide for students and the community, it creates stronger communication. Members need strong advocates to be engaged. “The community members will consistently have resources translated to the language they are comfortable with. The administration and staff cares about the success of the Albany Park community. They will make use of what resources they have and help the community,” she says. “It will bring more involvement into the school, and set higher expectations for the parents,” Deborah Ward, Principal of Grover Cleveland Elementary School, explained. The greatest needs are learning English and increasing technology skills so parent can tap into what their children are doing online and interact with them. “The Parent University will bring us closer together. Interaction with the parents and students will build and make us stronger as a community” she says. Parent 2 Parent 9
Sports Can Open Roads to Excellence A new league for competitive Elementary sports at CPS. HOW CPS SCORE IS DIFFERENT:
No Cuts Guaranteed Playing Time High Schools Host Games on Saturdays By harnessing the power of community and sports, this program provides a safe, structured, and positive environment to learn and develop through athletics.
With special thanks to our partners: For more information: Visit cps.edu/cpsscore 10 Parent 2 Parent
Becoming a Part of
The Pullman History Book
ome to the Historic Pullman Foundation, Pullman offers a rich history. From the Pullman strikes to the deindustrialization, the community has always celebrated its architecture and diversity, having a population of about 7,000 people. When Pullman was going through a change, its people and its culture worked to support and uplift one another. Pullman’s Parent University at Corliss High School adds another depth to Pullman’s history. Thyatiria Towns is the FACE Manager for Network 13, and the 2017 recipient of the Chicago Defender Woman of Excellence Award. “Our Parent University helps builds parental relationships and capacities for the Pullman community. They are excited about the workshops we have through our many partnerships,” she says. The Pullman Parent University offers open door training for all parents in the community who need help resume building, social media training, job readiness and more. “We are able to tailor the Parent U experience and have adequate training for the parents to get what they need from us.” With 75 computers that support Microsoft Office and a television that supports SAFARI Montage, the Pullman Parent University is bridging the generational learning
gap by providing parents with the resources they need to educate their children and keep up with social media channels. “Our mission is to create positive change for positive growth” says Towns. Carolyn Lewis is a member of the Pullman Parent University, and knows how important it is for the community. “It helps us by being a part of the school. Working hand and hand with the school and partnering with the school makes the community whole.” The University’s parenting class has impacted her interactions with her children; she is now able to look at her childrens’ point of view and readjust the way she engages with them. “The community is looking for something, and Parent University gives them a roadmap and provides the tools that you need.” Ali N. Muhammad, the Principal at Corliss High School, also agrees that the Parent University is helping bring the community, students, and parents together in the Pullman Neighborhood. “When parents receive services, they become connected to the school,” says Muhammad, “As the parents become more involved, student involvement increases as well.” The Parent University provides contacts and information regarding the availability of community resources that are beneficial to students and staff such as financial literacy and computer workshops. Parent 2 Parent 11
FOSTERS INCREASED PARENT ENGAGEMENT
ronzeville’s rich history is a symbol of change. The transformation of the landscape has come a long way to incorporate various institutions and facilities that aim to strengthen the community. The dynamics of Bronzeville and the diversity of the surrounding neighborhoods allows Parent University to tailor programming to fit the needs of the community. By offering parents computer training, GED classes and hosting resource and education fairs, it allows for parental growth and empowerment in Bronzeville. Senior Campus Manager at Bronzeville’s Parent University, Kisalan Glover’s mantra is, “How does success feel, how does it look and how does it sound? To accomplish our goals, we have to teach, not tell.” Gaining an understanding of the needs of parents and communities is an objective that Parent University wishes to tackle within each of their locations. At Dyett, Kisalan aims to do this by taking the time to gather and value parent’s opinions. Lorenzo Young, a third generation Bronzeville resident and community member of Parent University offers his insights, “Parent University provides an incredible opportunity for parents to be aware of their responsibilities to their kids and schools. It also provides them the tools to equip themselves to go back to individual schooling to make a difference.” 12 Parent 2 Parent
Programs such as Robomatics, STEAMatics and ARTiVism allows students to learn in new ways while incorporating their parents along the way. Coupling science, math, engineering and arts at Dyett allows students to learn hands-on and find future career paths. Fostering the side-by-side learning strategy of parents and students at Dyett allows for more parental involvement and engagement, facilitating this growth at a micro level will ensure student’s successes. Kyle Bollar, school counselor at Dyett said, “When kids realize that their parents are learning, it allows the student to grow academically too.” This forward moving process not only brings Bronzeville together, but also bridges the gap in generational and technological learning. Offering these resources will produce a productive environment for parents and families to learn and grow as stewards of their communities.
Gage Park Parent University:
Supporting Community Bonds
he Gage Park community, on the Southwest Side of Chicago, has its roots embedded in a resilient working-class community with a diverse population. With some Gage Park residents not holding a high school diploma and being from low-income households, empowering parents by providing them with adequate resources and tools to ensure their children’s success is vital for the community. The Gage Park University aims to offer various resources and opportunities catering to all of Network 10’s population including the predominantly Latino community. Cultural and lingual barriers are often seen as hurdles. However, ensuring parents’ needs are met in a comfortable and inclusive environment will allow for growth in parental leadership roles and further community engagement. Sonia Castro, FACE Manager for Network 10, expressed her goals and hopes for the new Parent University, “I hope Parent University is to be a community resource center that partners with local community organizations to meet the needs of the community.” Parent University plans to open its doors and resources at Gage Park High School in the Summer of 2017. Joel Rodriguez, Community Liaison at Gage Park High School, said, “The unique part of Gage Park is all the community organizations have partnered up with us to work together. We hope Parent University will be a central location for community collaboration and allow parents to access resources to help them be more informed and self-sufficient.”
“I plan to hold parent focus groups to grasp and understand what the parents need. My goal is for every parent who walks into Parent University to gain useful knowledge allowing them to grow individually and better equip their children for learning”, said Sonia. Really understanding the needs of the parents and community is what will kick start Parent University and foster future parental leaders to become advocates for their communities, schools and children’s education. Parent 2 Parent 13
Meeting the Needs of
THE COMMUNITY THROUGH
Technology and Job Readiness
uburn Gresham is a community built by migrant working-class residents of the surrounding neighborhoods such as Englewood, Bridgeport and Back of the Yards. The community survived the Great Depression and in the 1950’s African-Americans migrated to avoid overcrowded housing. Due to the racial tension in the community, many community organizations promoted integration. Auburn Gresham had its share of violence but the African-American population continued to increase and create a cultured community. The opening of CPS Auburn Gresham Parent University at Joplin Elementary strives to bridge the gap between the community, student and families of CPS. Parents surveyed want to take financial literacy, computer, GED and a mix of other classes. Mirlene Doussous, FACE Manager for Network 11, wants to focus on highlighting local organizations and partnering with them. “CVS Pharmacy, one partner that will be stationed here, will train community members as a CVS employee and hire you after training,” she says. She borrowed Dr. Shawn Jackson’s motto of ‘side-by-side’ learning where students and parents learn the same topics in the same building at different times. “When parents are involved students do better,” Dossous states. She looks forward to working with digital badges and social media training at the Parent University. Tammy Vinson is the PAC Chair, an active community member and a parent of a Joplin student. “The most important lesson is to always be open to learning something new. In order to be successful, we all have to come together as 14 Parent 2 Parent
one,” Vinson states. This community needs everyone to come together to learn how to care for each other. “Technology will aid this by showing parents how to build a resume, job search, and use social media,” Vinson says. “The topics are chosen based on the surveyed needs of the parents,” says Alene Mason, Principal at Joplin Elementary. The Parent University staff understands that by including the community in what the children are learning they are able to be lifelong learners. Workforce Development is a need in the Auburn Gresham community. “We want to make sure parents are tech savvy so they could know what their children are experiencing. Using technology bridges that generational gap so that the students and parents are equal,” says Mrs. Mason.
Bridging Learning through
Technology, Partnerships and More
vondale is a community that prides itself on traditional working class taste and being one of Chicago’s Seven Lost Wonders. It’s home to Chicago’s largest Polish population but it’s also home to many AfricanAmericans and Latin-Americans. Avondale is divided into three neighborhoods: Polish Village, Belmont Gardens, and Kosciuszko Park. The Avondale Parent University located at Logandale Elementary School will be a space for learning and collaboration for parents and community members. “It’s a place that will have everything the parents need,“ FACE Manager for Network 2, Leslie Kniskern explained. The new Parent University will bridge the learning and language gap between parents and students by having resources available for parents to job search, resume building, host CAC meetings, and have access to technology. “We have very active parent involvement but there is a need for workforce training, and getting more information about how to help their children via technology. Some parents don’t have access to computers
at home. We guide them here” he says. Giving parents access to technology will give them the ability to understand and help their child with homework at home. “Most of the parents in the community are waiting for the Parent University,“ community member, Sonia Cortez says. The Parent University will help build community members’ confidence to further their education alongside their children. “Most of our parents already know how to use the computer and smartphones, but social media will be our big focus,” Cortez says. “We have partnerships with City Colleges, Boys and Girls Club and more organizations so that the parents have all of the resources that they would need,” Principal Evelyn Roman says. "The Parent University will give the community members access to technology and classes such as GED courses to better themselves and bridge the learning gap. I want parents to come in, take classes for GEDs, and volunteer with the school. We have a lot of parent engagement but I want to prepare them to be more effective within the school and at home." Parent 2 Parent 15
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AND CONNECTING COMMUNITY
on the Far North Side
ocated on the northern edge of the city, Rogers Park is one of the most culturally and economically distinct neighborhoods in Chicago. Rogers Park has grown into an immigrant’s sanctuary including African, Japanese, EasternEuropean, Korean, Mexican, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Indian and many more cultures. In addition, more than 80 languages are spoken among the community residents. Rogers Park faces particular challenges among its immigrant populations with many firstgeneration students, low technology literacy and language and cultural barriers that play a part in parental involvement and school engagement. Principal Chad Adams of Sullivan High School expressed his goals and hopes for the new Parent University. “Sullivan is a community school for all and parental involvement will guide us to what the needs of the community are and how we can assist parents.” Parent University plans to open its doors and resources at Sullivan High School in Fall 2017. Les Kniskern, FACE Manager for Network 2, said, “Rogers Park offers a unique challenge with a high number of immigrant and refugee
populations. We hope Parent University will be a mechanism for parents who are unfamiliar and new to our country. With the help of Parent University, our goal is to forge community partnerships to accommodate the multitude of languages and cultures.” Principal Adams recently partnered up with Loyola University to launch the Kilmer-Sullivan School Health Center. By collaborating with Kilmer Elementary, Advocate Medical Group and CVS Caremark to open Loyola’s SchoolBased Health Center, the goal is to improve the physical and emotional health of the local student population. In a safe and confidential environment, services include primary health care, mental health care, nutrition counseling and education, and health education. In addition, a partnership with Truman College and other community organizations are in the works to provide more resources for parents. Principal Adams said, “There are a lot of assets, resources and support organizations in Rogers Park who want to help. I hope that Parent University can interconnect all these resources for our parents and community to use.” Parent 2 Parent 17
Pilsen and Little Village
Parent University: ADVANCING COMMUNITY TIES
ilsen and Little Village are communities which are rich in history and no stranger to change. Many different immigrant populations have staked claim in Pilsen. Since the early 1950s, Mexican immigrants began to call Pilsen home and enriched the community with culture and influence. Like so many Chicago neighborhoods, Pilsen and Little Village are overcoming obstacles such as crime, low educational rates and rapid gentrification. With the opening of the Parent University at Manuel Perez Elementary on May 5, 2017, the hope is to tap into parental needs and provide great resources for them to take advantage of. Cristina Carreto, FACE Manager for Network 7, said, “Parent University is not what CPS or the community want, but rather what parents and families need. Listening to parents in different schools and really asking them what they need is my goal.” Some of the resources Parent University at Perez plans to provide are ESL classes, and technology literacy programs. Also, there is a plan to partner up with City Colleges of Chicago to help parents attain GEDs, certifications and offer workforce development training. Given the diversity of Pilsen, Parent University will include bilingual and bicultural efforts to accommodate the needs of parents and community. 18 Parent 2 Parent
Juan Soto, Executive Director of Pilsen Neighbors Community Council, mentioned some of Parent University’s benefits to surrounding neighborhoods, “Utilizing a community education center allows parents to engage in productive networks within our community. The important lesson is parents are requesting these resources.” Principal Jessica Johnson of Perez Elementary, has high expectations for the recent Parent University. She says, “I really hope to see this resource for parents and for the community to reach full capacity, utilize all the space and further support parents and community leaders to take control. That is the goal of empowerment and that is how I wish to see the Parent University grow at Perez.” With the doors opening at the Pilsen/Little Village Parent University, it provides a plethora of opportunities for parent and community involvement and growth at Perez Elementary and all the schools in Network 7.
Fostering Relationships TO HELP STUDENTS GROW ACADEMICALLY
niversity Village, a unique neighborhood with a rich history rooted in housing immigrant populations and communal restoration, has seen drastic changes over time and has been a center for urban renewal. In the bitter-sweet complex of change and renewal that has come to the University Village, an appreciation of the past must be included to understand the community. Dr. Ronald Whitmore, the principal of Smyth Magnet School, shares a devotion not only for the students, but also the community of which he serves. He is an outspoken and passionate individual whose ideals are transforming the relationship of Smyth and its community. Dr. Whitmore’s partnerships include UIC’s Education Department and Health & Wellness Department and various non-profit organizations such as Pilot Light and Gardeneers. He fosters these relationships to better help students grow academically as well as socially. By showcasing the importance of inclusion and productivity, Dr. Whitmore sets an example, which Parent University echoes. Dr. Whitmore says, “I hope it gives parents that are often undervalued, underestimated and marginalized a voice. I hope it becomes a vehicle for parents to stand up for what is morally and ethically right.” Judy Camacho, FACE Manager for Network 6, said, “Once a month, I have meetings for the entire network and they come here and see the
work that is happening. The collaboration really begins among parents. I see parents sitting with parents from other schools and talking about what’s happening in their schools and how can we bring that to our school. That’s the powerful and integral piece I see to this.” Ms. Winston is described as an indispensable community member to Smyth, the Parent University and the entire neighborhood. In fact, Ms. Winston, her children and grandchildren all attended Smyth. “From working with parents, other community members and students, Ms. Winston said, “I don’t have to get paid, I love doing whatever just to know that my community and kids are in a safe environment.” Her devotion is exemplary and her level of commitment to her community magnifies her passions. Parent University has opened its doors to the parents of the entire Network and provides a safe and constructive space for them and their children. Parent University at Smyth sets a standard that is inclusive and rooted deeply in parental engagement. Parent 2 Parent 19
Austin’s One Stop Shop:
Get What You Need AND MORE
ustin is the most populated community in the city of Chicago. Austin now has a population of 111,330, majority being African-American and Hispanic. There are four neighborhoods in Austin: Galewood, North Austin, South Austin, and The Island. In a community that experiences social and educational hardships, Chicago Public School’s Austin Parent University rises up to educate and support community members. “We provide an opportunity to be engaged and involved with the learning process in different ways. We stress how important it is to be a part of the student’s education,” Pam Price, Director of Parent University and Austin Parent University Campus Manager, says. They customize their Parent University by helping parents fulfill their needs such as computer training, workforce development, smartphone/social media training, and relocation housing opportunities. “We build the classes around them; we are here to serve them. Our Parent University is a one stop shop,” she says. Spencer’s Local School Council President, David Rodriguez, believes the Austin Parent University 20 Parent 2 Parent
is bringing the community together. “Community members don’t realize that the Parent University resources are just for them. We need more parents participating and engaging with the school,” he says. For community members to become tech savvy, they will have to take advantage of the technology at Spencer. “The individual community members are what makes the Austin community unique. They can reach out and bridge learning gaps, but it’s a work in progress. The resources are there, we need to take advantage of them,” he says. “We offer GED programs and give parents access to programs they wouldn’t have outside Parent University, but we also have classes based on their interests, PAC involvement and more,” Principal Kelly Dean says. The Austin Parent University provides a space where parents can be involved and access workforce development. She says, “Our parents are learning how to use technology efficiently by connecting with applications and monitoring their child’s activity.” Lastly, the Austin Parent University provides another way for Spencer staff to become more accountable and resourceful for parents and community members.
Parent Engagement Centers:
Having a Seat at the Table
PS understands that parents and community are an essential component in educating our children. Therefore, Parent Engagement Centers have been set up across the District to empower even more families. A Parent Engagement Center is a room dedicated to the parent engagement efforts of a specific school. This is a space where parents converse, generate ideas and develop strategies to help their school. Currently, there are 45 Parent Engagement Centers in Chicago; schools like Whitney Elementary and Stowe Elementary have open centers to utilize. The Parent Engagement Centers provide a smaller setting for community members to engage with their local school. Members utilize the room as office space, discuss problems in school, host PAC meetings and tutor students to help them in Common Core classes. “Members in the community wanted the Parent Engagement Centers to empower them. Each member can reach out and obtain more resources and organization partnerships. Some parents didn’t know about the different organizations in their community without the Engagement Centers,” Pam Price says. The active members at the Engagement Centers also have support from the local school community. “When the school supports the parents, parents start to believe in change,” Price says. Parents ask to be a part of the solution. They want a seat at the table and now the schools are saving a chair for them. “It starts with us,” Price asks, “How many of us can say I want to be a part of change?”
The space has many resources for members of the community. The Parent Engagement Centers provide access to Parent Portal to check CPS students grades and homework, school policy and learning about things their child needs to progress to the next grade. Also, they offer one-on-one sessions for members concerning CPS news. “When students see their parents learning, they want to learn with them. We all are learning together, when we open doors to new experiences for our members,” Price says. “Members can come to the schools to have access to computers. They don’t have to search for open libraries,” Carol Wilson, Principal of Milton Brunson Elementary, says. The mission is to bridge the generational learning gap between parents and students all across the city of Chicago. “It’s a place for LSC meetings, PAC meetings, side-by-side learning, and collaboration for students and community. This space allows members to access, monitor and engage with their children via technology,” she says. Parent 2 Parent 21
Parent University Ambassadors Leading Communal Advancement
elping families and communities to grow is no easy task and one that comes with great responsibilities. The Office of Leadership and Learning’s Parent University Ambassador Program aims to empower parent leaders to support key parental engagement strategies. Parent University Ambassadors serve as liaisons for the Office of Leadership and Learning and represent the district’s commitment to empowering parents and community through the Parent University programs. Parent Ambassadors are nominated by other parents to become ambassadors and require two recommendations to begin. They are members of the community that are deeply involved and engaged. The position is unpaid and based on the willingness to volunteer time.
Mary Ann Alexander, the Parent Ambassador at Michele Clark High School said, “Working with the community involves collaborating with all types of people from principals, parents, members of the local Chicago Police district and community members. It also allows me to be constantly in training and learning new interactive ways.” Parent Ambassadors are tasked with the role of bridging the community and schools together, while highlighting the best practices surrounding parent engagement and advocacy. They serve as models for the community by recognizing and demonstrating parental leadership skills that translate to positive action for the students, school and community.
Parent Ambassadors work to manage and support the three key components of the Parent University Model which are the Parent University, Parent University Training Centers and Parent Engagement Centers.
Parent Ambassadors are also tasked with managing the Parent University sites through various roles such as clerical duties, collaborating with Family and Community Engagement teams, supporting recruitment and facilitating workshops.
The Parent Ambassador program is currently taking place in conjunction with Parent University Training Centers at Fenger Academy High School, Earle Elementary, Michele Clark High School, Miles Davis Elementary and Steinmetz High School.
Parent Ambassadors assume responsibility of supporting CPS’s parent and community engagement strategies and participating in events such as: Local School Councils, Parent Leadership Network, Community Action Councils and Parent Advisory Councils.
At Parent University Training Centers, Parent Ambassadors must be able to recruit other parent advocates, organize and facilitate community events, gain knowledge and communicate with others, and have the ability to volunteer time and services to support districtwide events.
The Parent Ambassadors are indispensable members of our communities and their level of consistent commitment illustrates their hard work and passion. From working with parents, community members and students, our Parent Ambassadors highlight what empowerment encompasses.
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Parent University Training Centers:
ffering empowerment at a community level involves a great deal of dedication and preparation. Parents who seek further involvement within their communities and schools can use programs such Parent University, the Parent University Ambassador Program and Parent University Training Center as focal points. These resources are meant to capitalize on strategies in place to revive parents' relationships to learning and offer leadership initiatives. Chicago Public Schools’ Parent University Training Centers are designed to expand the Parent University footprint and leverage parents into leadership roles. The Parent University Training Centers are modeled after Parent University, which consists of two to three classrooms dedicated to supporting adult learners. The sites are managed by the school where the training center is located and have been generally chosen due to the presence of strong parent representatives. With each Parent University Training Center unique to the neighborhood it serves, each thrives off the community around it to further its growth and empowerment. Parent University Training Centers currently housed at Earle Elementary, Fenger High School, Michele Clark High School, Miles Davis Elementary and Steinmetz High School. In addition to being Parent Training Center locations, these schools also offer the Parent Ambassador Program. The Parent Training Centers are managed by appointed Parent Ambassadors, who are nominated and undergo an eightweek leadership training. Parent Ambassador’s volunteer their time and act as advocates for the parents. As active members of their community, Parent Ambassadors are immensely committed and connected to their schools.
Darlene O’Banner, the Parent Ambassador at Earle Elementary, said, “I will never let my kids be in a school if I’m not involved. I have to know what my kids are involved in too because the schools belong to the community.” Mary Ann Alexander is the Local School Council chairperson and Parent Ambassador at Michele Clark High School. Mary Ann attended Michele Clark and has had four generations of children attend too. She feels compelled to participate as a parent, grandparent and community member. “Parent University is great because it helps parents in need of resources get exposure to college courses, computers and really helps with their student’s performance.” Vanessa Valentin, Local School Council chairperson and Parent Ambassador at Steinmetz High School said, “Parent University Training Center really empowered me and helped bridge my love for the community and Steinmetz. I think it is essential for parents to be educated in leadership training and take advantage of resources that are being offered such as ESL, GED and college courses.” Steinmetz’s Parent University Training Center currently offers LSC and leadership training as well as partnering up with Wilbur Wright College to bring college courses for parents to Steinmetz. Vanessa attributes her successes with organizational and leadership training to the Parent University Training Center and she even became certified in performing CPR. Gwen Hunter from Miles Davis Elementary School said, “Keeping parents involved and informed about beneficial information and resources is a key foundation for other parents to become leaders in their community.” Parent 2 Parent 23
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Parent To Parent Summer 2017