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Early Works Update, Spring to Summer 2014

 

earlyworks logoEarl Boyles Elementary:
Preschool Planning. Approximately 70 families of 3- and 4-year-old children completed their Earl Boyles preschool application in May. The 90 preschool spots available in the new Early Learning Wing are nearly filled. Educators are excited to be part of building a system at Earl Boyles that seamlessly aligns early childhood with the elementary years. More than 50 candidates applied for the two available preschool teaching positions, and the final teaching team includes a mix of expertise in kindergarten, Head Start, and Early Childhood Special Education.
Family Engagement. The 2013-14 school year focused on making Parents United systems sustainable and building leadership. 2014-15 will focus on increasing birth-to-8 family engagement and health services in the new Earl Boyles Neighborhood Center.
Health. Early Works partners launched a Health Committee this spring and are preparing for a Community Health Assessment. The assessment will ultimately inform the visioning process for the Neighborhood Center, which will open this fall.

 

Yoncalla Elementary:
Building Community. Yoncalla hosted a successful Dr. Seuss night with 327 attendees that had the dual purpose of increasing the number of families that see the school as a place they are welcome and connecting families to needed services. The school hosted a smaller Geography Night in June that drew 100 attendees to involve families in student learning. Local leadership is already planning for the 2014-15 school year.
Family Engagement. The Family Room, located at the school, is open and hosting programs for families. Becca Pope, the AmeriCorps staffer who manages the Family Room, is hosting weekly playgroups for families with children birth to 5, and has had 10 families participate so far. She's also facilitating volunteer opportunities to support the K-3 teachers and bringing in guest speakers for families with small children and K-3 teachers.
Child Care and Early Education. The child care/educator work group has agreed to ensure local preschool and child care providers in Yoncalla receive professional development on child assessments that could inform their work with children.

Early Works Blogs

  • Earl Boyles parent represents community at national family engagement conference

    Andreina-AdrianaEarl Boyles Elementary School parent Adriana Govea had never been on an airplane before last week. But on June 22, she and Andreina Velasco, the Children’s Institute’s Early Works site liaison at Earl Boyles, boarded a plane to Chicago for the Institute for Educational Leadership’s 2015 National Family and Community Engagement Conference, “Shaping Our Future by Leading Together.”

    Adriana readily faced her trepidation about her first flight – and soon learned that flying was kind of fun – in order to represent the Earl Boyles community at the institute’s second annual conference, which brought together 1,200 participants from all sectors of the educational community to talk about the importance of family engagement in children’s learning. Adriana, a member and former co-facilitator of Parents United, an Earl Boyles parents group, plays an active role in the parent engagement activities happening at Earl Boyles, including planning for the school’s neighborhood center. Adriana’s son, Matthew, just finished third grade at Earl Boyles.

    But Adriana and Andreina were not just conference attendees. They were also asked to conduct a workshop, “From Showing Up to Leading the Way: Building a Continuum for Family Engagement.” The workshop was an important opportunity for them and for the Children’s Institute to share some lessons learned from the Early Works initiative at Earl Boyles with a group of national experts. It also gave Andreina and Adriana a chance to learn from the other communities that are part of the growing national movement for family engagement.

    The presentation highlighted the array of possible family engagement activities and programs – from attendance to parent leadership – and helped to start a discussion about how others are undertaking similar work.  Although Adriana started off her presentation a bit shy, by the end she said she felt secure and confident. “I feel very important because I am someone who hasn’t been to college, and I am here speaking to all of these people who have,” she says.

    Andreina Velasco says she was “blown away” by the conference. “It was the best conference I have ever been to,” she says.

    She says a standout moment was a speech by parent Rosazlia Grillier, co-chair of POWER-PAC, a parent-led cross-cultural organization of low-income parents from Chicago. “Rosazlia is a testament to what can happen when parents are organized,” Andreina says.

    Rosazilia demonstrated that the most authentic way to build success is by having families interact with families, Andreina says. The point was underscored by Ralph Smith, senior vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, an initiative working to ensure more children in low-income families are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Smith emphasized that schools must set up opportunities to get out of the way – to create spaces and processes that give parents the opportunity to lead and succeed.

    Adriana says she has similar opinions about why it is important to give parents a voice – and why she feels thankful to be a part of the parent engagement work at Earl Boyles. “It is very important to demonstrate the power of the parents, and also important that the schools - or whoever is in charge of the system - aren’t judging parents but helping and supporting them,” she says. “It is important that they see the love that parents have for their children, and that we all leave fear behind for the love of our kids, so that anything is possible.”

    Adriana and Andreina both believe that schools must encourage the vital partnership between schools and parents in children’s education.

    Adriana’s enthusiasm for professional development around family engagement has only increased since the conference, and her new ambition is to make sure more Earl Boyles parents have the opportunity to participate in family engagement conferences and programs in the future. “They have the potential,” she says. “I would like to share more, and give them the opportunity.”

    And so, of course, would the Children’s Institute.

    Read more

  • Earl Boyles Elementary wins support from Multnomah County

    commissioner-site-visit2The Early Works initiative and the community around Earl Boyles Elementary School had a big victory this week – one that will lead to more comprehensive services for children and families in the larger community around the school in Southeast Portland.

    On June 18, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners passed a budget that included $94,000 for the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods program at Earl Boyles. As part of its involvement in the Early Works initiative, the school already has added a new early learning wing and neighborhood center; the new services will be delivered at the neighborhood center.

    Specifically, the SUN program will use the funding to help families access housing programs and work with a family navigator to understand and access public services available to them. Those two resources were prioritized by community leaders from a list of services community members had indicated in a home-to-home survey they would like to see provided at the neighborhood center.

    “This money will help us really reach our families at the level they need to be reached at,” said Earl Boyles SUN site manager Meghan Zook, who attended the June 18 hearing and who said she was tremendously excited about the new reach her program would now have at Earl Boyles. “It will really allow us to focus on community needs.” Families in the Earl Boyles catchment area have high rates of poverty, with 85 percent of students at the school eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

    The expanded SUN program was one of several that the Multnomah County commissioners agreed to fund as part of the broader county budget. The commissioners emphasized their intention was to fund programs that reach the most vulnerable citizens in the county.

    In fact, as part of the Early Works initiative, the neighborhood center work has the potential to have impact well beyond Earl Boyles and even Multnomah County. By assessing the Early Works project through an on-going evaluation and then sharing lessons learned through a strategic communication plan, leaders involved in the Early Works initiative aim to help others learn from their effort.

    “This initiative is an effort to empower the community and to help improve health and outcomes for children and families through a dual generation approach,” said Swati Adarkar, President and CEO of the Children’s Institute, which helped to initiate the Early Works project. “We’re thrilled that the Multnomah County commissioners are partnering with the Early Works initiative to help serve children and families and to support children to achieve success in school and beyond.”

    Read more

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