Five FHSD Schools Recognized by Johns Hopkins for Community Engagement

Posted on 10/23/2018
An Indian family displays cultural dress and items

The National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) at Johns Hopkins University recognizes schools and their communities that team up to use a research-based approach to organize and sustain excellent programs of family and community involvement. This year, five different FHSD school programs have been recognized as “Promising Practices,” earning them a prestigious place in the NNPS annual publication.

Francis Howell North was recognized for “Eighth Grade Family Knights,” and the Francis Howell Middle School for the “Career Café.” At the elementary level, the Castlio “STREAM Night,” Harvest Ridge “One School, Many Cultures” event, and Independence “Slam Dunk into Wellness” were all selected as Promising Practices as well. “In Francis Howell, we value the voice of our stakeholders,” said Superintendent Dr. Mary Hendricks-Harris. “High-quality community engagement is vitally important at both the school and district level. These programs strengthen the relationship between school and home, and help to improve the quality education that we are able to provide for all of our students.”

For the past three years, FHN has been hosting Eighth Grade Knights at both Barnwell and Hollenbeck middle schools. As students get older, fewer and fewer parents remain engaged in the school community, and an FHN parent suggested meeting parents where they are… literally. The event is an informational and networking opportunity at the middle schools on the parent’s turf. Since they are already more comfortable, it actually increases engagement for many middle school parents and their students.

The Career Café at FHMS was designed to bring business professionals into the school setting and share their professional careers with students. Guest speakers visit during lunch periods, creating a “lunch and learn” opportunity for the students. Monsanto, Drury Inns and Suites, and military branches all sent representatives to speak with students. The FHMS mission statement “We promote leadership through academics, character, and 21st-century skills” is supported by the Career Café with its focus on academics and promoting possible career opportunities for students.

Castlio Elementary’s STREAM Night was an event that incorporated engaging activities in Science, Technology, Reading, Arts, and Math. There was plenty of involvement from community members and organizations who created demonstrations, and engaged students and families in hands-on learning. “STREAM Night was a great success for our students. It allowed us to open the doors to our families and provide families with engaging activities in many different areas,” said Principal Tim Scholle. “We are grateful for all of our volunteers and for the surrounding community that came in to provide our students with many great learning opportunities.”

Harvest Ridge hosted a multicultural evening called “One School, Many Cultures” and families were encouraged to bring in food and artifacts to represent their country. Some families provided cultural activities and others performed traditional dances to represent their country of origin. Attendees were able to visit each station to sample food and learn about each culture. The countries represented included Nepal, India, Norway, Trinidad, Japan, Scotland, Palestine, Lithuania, China, and Mexico. The event was well attended, and families were able to make connections and appreciate the diversity at Harvest Ridge. One student said, “It was neat to learn more about everybody, I never knew all the things my friends could do.”

The Independence school leadership and parent involvement team wanted to create an event where families could ‘unplug’ and spend quality time together doing activities to promote wellness and developed the “Slam Dunk into Wellness” event. Independence partnered with a variety of community organizations, and families had the opportunity to visit stations about yoga, basketball, fire safety, mental health resources and information, trauma information, and cooking. Student leaders helped to teach yoga poses and assisted in a variety of other capacities during the event.  Parents received take-home ideas such as a cookbook, conversation starters, and a ‘sleeping bag’ for cellphones. By attending the event, parents got a better understanding of what the school is doing and what they can do to help students stay healthy. 

“These schools are applying research-based approaches to strengthen their welcoming climate, and to engage parents and community partners in ways that improve student attendance, behavior, achievement, health, and high school graduation rates,” said Dr. Joyce L. Epstein, Director of NNPS. You can find the different Promising Partnership Practices online.

National Network of Partnerships Schools John Hopkins University

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