Welcoming all families and the community is one of the six structures of Georgia’s Family and Community Engagement System, but what practical strategies can schools anywhere in the country and online adopt to ensure an environment that equitably welcomes all families, students, and community members? This session will feature Georgia’s Family-Friendly Partnership Schools Initiative's nine year history of developing resources such as a walk-through rubric, scenarios, a downloadable virtual model of schools, a statewide awards program, and a two-year professional learning option. The session will also highlight Georgia school systems with examples of a family-friendly virtual school and school buildings. Participants will interact with each other to share ideas and resources effective for welcoming families and the community.
Amy Song is the Director of Federal and Special Programs at Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia. Previously, she was the Family-School Partnership Program Manager at the Georgia Department of Education in the Office of Federal Programs. Previous to moving to Georgia, she worked for the California Department of Education and for the American Institutes for Research as a Research Analyst/Researcher developing statewide professional learning options. She started her career in Massachusetts where she assisted with the coordination of a statewide family literacy consortium and served as a Program Specialist for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Amy Chang has been the District Family Engagement Coordinator for Forsyth County Schools for the past five years. During this time, she has supported schools in the development of their culture and climate by measuring and cultivating each school’s family friendly status. She continues to lead improvement efforts in the effectiveness of family engagement in a diverse community across the district. Mrs. Chang is the lead trainer and coordinator of the Academic Parent-Teacher Teams (APTT) program for Forsyth County Schools. She is also a founding member of an early learning and literacy community group that provides periodic parent education and training to families with young children regarding how to support school success at home during early childhood before entering formal schooling. Prior to her work at the district office with Title I and federal programs, she was a former assistant principal and teacher at the elementary level.
Kristy Howard is a Family Engagement Coordinator at Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) and has worked in this role since 2016. GCA is a public online charter school that serves over 10,000 students across the state of Georgia in grades K-12. Kristy leads district-wide staff trainings educating teachers, specialized instructional support personnel, principals, other school leaders, and other school staff on strategies for building effective partnerships with families. She also leads district-wide parent trainings on how parents can successfully support the education of their child(ren) and build strong partnerships with the school. Her expertise is in leading meaningful trainings backed by research addressing impactful topics such as how school staff can build partnerships with their families while identifying and addressing potential school engagement barriers they may face. The strategies used at GCA can translate to any brick-and mortar school wanting to increase their tools for engaging busy families and building a sense of community in a virtual environment. This can be done through the use of online meetings, live stream meetings, meeting recordings, feedback surveys, Facebook groups, online resource rooms, newsletters, and more.