Making the Connection: Engaging Culturally Diverse Families
Engaging culturally diverse families is a big challenge! School professionals must be intentional in their outreach and communication efforts to families. Acknowledging the need to engage all families is the most important element. This commitment to parents must be authentic, intentional, and purposeful in order to meet new educational challenges. Support from community and families can play a positive role in building cultural harmony with a school serving a diverse student population. In bridging the cultural gap, we address the barriers with direct intention on a positive impact for family engagement. This workshop examines the current structural, attitudinal, and cultural barriers to family engagement. Presenters, both of whom are multi-lingual and work with multiple school districts in one of the most diverse counties in California, will offer proven strategies to effectively connect and engage culturally diverse families.
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Dr. Herr has spent the past 28 years helping parents and the community narrow the achievement gap. In 1999, he became an advisory member to Fresno Unified School District’s Parent Engagement Center where the Center served more than 75,000 students in the fourth largest school district in California. In 2006, Dr. Herr became the head of the Parent Services department for the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools where he worked directly with 32 superintendents to develop family engagement programs. In 2007, Dr. Herr was one of twenty-five parent engagement specialists selected to participate in two-day intensive training with Family Friendly Schools in Phoenix, Arizona. Due to his community experience in working with parents and the community, he has presented to school board meetings and to district administrators. In 2012, he served as a liaison for California Department Education’s Family Area Network (FAN) for the Central Valley of California. Furthermore, from 2013-14, he also served as a regional network representative for the Curriculum Instruction Steering Committee (CISC) sponsored by the Santa Clara County office of Education. As a representative, Dr. Herr worked directly with educators throughout 58 counties to share best practices pertaining to family and parent engagement programs. Currently, he is a member of four counties family involvement network where he shares best practices to colleagues in terms of developing effective family engagement programs. Finally, Dr. Herr is actively involved in community education programs and serves on multiple organizations. He is an in-house expert for parent and community engagement with the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools and is fluent in six languages.
For the past 12 years, Setha has assisted thousands of parents navigating through our complex educational system. Among his accolades, he was Educator-of-the Year for Fresno County in 2013 and his nomination was subsequently sent to the California Educator-of-the Year award. A killing field survivor, an artist, and a former teacher for the fourth largest school district in California, Setha successfully worked with parents and students of diverse backgrounds. He has illustrated multiple children books with different authors. As an educator and more importantly, as a parent, Setha has a keen awareness of parent needs. Among his professional development, he has received and is certified with National Network of Partnership Schools, Passport to Success, Character Counts, Abriendo Puertas, and Parent Projects (working with our court and community students). He has facilitated 36 different topic workshops to school districts in Fresno County. Each year, he provides 60 workshops to school districts and community organizations in Fresno County. He is responsible for developing materials and programs for our K-2 grade curriculum as part of our Family Academic Competency Training Series module as well as our Computer Literacy series, with focus on family engagement. Setha is currently a member of the Central Valley’s four-county Family Engagement Network. As an expert in community education, he has been guest speakers at various educational functions throughout the Central Valley in California.