(June 2022) This school year marked the launch of the KIPP MA Family Working Groups. Family Working Groups were established and designed to strengthen the mission of co-authorship. The Family Working Groups consisted of staff and families working side by side on issues and policies within schools that are most important to them.
“When the pandemic hit in 2020, our region knew that we could not open schools without sharing the power of decision making with our families. Going remote meant families would become our co-teachers, and that more than ever, we needed to co-author the educational experience with families in order to navigate safety, learning, and the challenges the pandemic would bring.” Shameka Coleman, Managing Director of Equity and Engagement, at KIPP MA shares.
The Family Working Groups that launched this year were Safe and Healthy Schools, Curriculum and Instruction, and Race, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. These working groups met once a month on Zoom with a planned agenda based on what members expressed in prior meetings.
“We need to work alongside and with our families in order to create policies and protocols that accurately reflect our students and community. This group allowed us to reflect and discuss specific Operational items and seek feedback so that we could begin that conversation.” says Zach Trotsky, who is KIPP MA’s Managing Director of Operations and worked as the facilitator of Safe and Healthy Schools.
The Safe and Healthy Schools Working Group advocated for two major policy and protocol shifts within KIPP MA. The first was the implementation of a mirrored traffic sign.The traffic sign is an important step in the direction of safety at KIPP Academy Boston, where surrounding traffic can sometimes present a safety concern for parents.
Shavonne Herrington, a KIPP Boston parent and member of The Safe and Healthy Schools Working Group, says, “Some drivers seem to forget they are in a school parking lot once they pull off. And with that fence blocking the view for walkers and drivers no one can see each other. I have had a few near misses myself coming down the drive from the bus stop.”
The second policy that The Safe and Healthy Schools Working Group helped implement was the selection for a new food vendor for the 2022-2023 school year.
Mariela Alvarez, a Lynn parent and member of The Safe and Healthy Schools Working Group, reflected on how this process has positively affected her children.
“My oldest child, currently a junior at KALC, used to eat the school’s lunch when he was in middle school. When he transitioned to high school he began to complain about the poor quality of the food being served (temperature, taste or lack of presentation). During 9th grade he would go the whole day without eating and would come home starving. After he returned to in-person learning, he no longer eats school lunch and brings his own lunch. My youngest son, currently a 3rd grader, brings his own lunch and snack as he does not like the presentation and the comments from his peers of the school food and therefore, refuses to try it. When they both heard that the food vendor is changing next year and that in theory the food will no longer be frozen but fresh, made the day off, they are willing to give it a try.”
Emily Rodriguez, KIPP MA’s Managing Director of Elementary Academics, worked alongside Meg MacIlvain, the Managing Director of Secondary Academics to co-lead The Curriculum and Instruction Family Working Group.
“I deeply appreciated families’ interest and excitement in joining us at the early stages of a curricular initiative. To come to families with an educational approach or a way we hope to innovate, then hear family input and suggestions, is incredibly helpful. It helps the Teaching and Learning team build academic programing that reflects family vision.” Meg says.
In this Working Group, Meg and Emily introduced Project Based Learning (PBL) to receive parent input on how to implement PBL in classrooms.
Of the experience, Emily says. “It was really meaningful to hear different perspectives from families. Overwhelmingly, we heard a desire for more Project Based Learning and ways to make learning truly purposeful and engaging for students. We also heard ideas for making communication about our curriculum and instruction more transparent with families, especially around current events.”
The final Working Group, Race, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, led by Shameka Coleman, advocated for sharing KIPP’s vision of Race, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to be shared externally with New to KIPP families. This led the group to plan and execute the filming and production of an open house video and a video that outlines KIPP’s Special Education offerings. Working alongside KIPP’s Family and Community Engagement Manager, David Daniel, and KIPP’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Sam Cooke, The Family Working Group created the videos to be shared at all KIPP Open House events.
Watch the videos here!
As the 2021-2022 school year comes to an end, Family Working Groups are on top of mind for KIPP MA, with the plan to have a Family Working Group in all core areas of the organization in 2022-2023.
For the most up to date information on Family Working Groups, visit our website.