In schools, like in so many parts of life, engagement leads to empowerment. Recently, Harvard Professor Robert Putnam said that given a choice between a 10% increase in school budgets or a 10% increase in parent involvement, he would invest in parent involvement. Another best-selling author, Professor Laurence Steinberg, agrees that parental involvement is key to children’s success in school.
Understanding the importance of family engagement, Forest Ridge has been exploring ways to engage with our students and families around the world. This year, I had the pleasure of being part of a team of faculty and staff that developed and piloted a new English language and workshop series (EISP) at Forest Ridge for families who speak English as a second language. The goal of the EISP program was to increase engagement and relationship building between families and the wider Forest Ridge community. It featured a nine-week series with 13 Forest Ridge faculty and staff speakers who presented on a variety of topics and interests.
Careful consideration was given to an evening event time, so the time difference would allow our families overseas to join the workshop through a virtual Zoom call. Translation was also provided “live” during each workshop by volunteer translators who were connected to the Forest Ridge community, which allowed for further engagement by our families for whom English is a second language.
Through this language and workshop series, Forest Ridge faculty and staff were able to engage with our new and returning international families – in middle school, high school and those families living and studying digitally overseas. This increased understanding of departments, programs and curriculum at Forest Ridge, while building relationships and connections between the participants and the Forest Ridge community. The EISP program was an overwhelming success with plans to continue it into the future.
Steinberg, L. (1996). Beyond the classroom: Why school reform has failed and what parents need to do. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. NY: Simon & Schuster.