“Face It” audience grows along with online relationships
Several months into the pandemic, FCPS families know they have a solid place to turn for support and information through Face It – an interactive online community helping people face the challenges, stress, and anxiety of COVID-19 together. The “series of family chats” is another way Fayette County Public Schools enfolds its students’ larger circle, partnering with the 16th District PTA to share Face It most Thursday evenings on Facebook.
“We knew there was a need to stay connected with families and also provide real talk about real-life situations and what they’re experiencing. We may not have the answers to everything, but we wanted to create a platform that shows we’re in this together,” said Miranda Scully, district coordinator of Family & Community Engagement (FACE). “The fact that we have parents, students, and community partners – we’re able to hear from everybody,” she noted. “We want to stay solution-oriented and resource-driven so we can help families get through everything we’re all going through.”
Evelyn Ueda, a mother of five, considers Face It a lifeline in these unprecedented times. After the episode explaining the new Virtual Learning Academy, she signed up her three children who ordinarily attend school on the Tates Creek campus (in 4th, 7th, and 9th grade). “Face It gives us plenty of resources, but the biggest thing I enjoy is that it feels like you’re sitting down with friends, having coffee, and just talking,” Ueda said. “They feel comfortable when they talk, and it feels like you’re part of it. Having programs like this is good for parents who are overwhelmed and might not be able to make connections outside their home. Just being able to hear other people laughing and talking – it might change how somebody’s feeling.”
The initiative actually predated the COVID-19 outbreak; a planning committee from the FACE office and PTA started brainstorming last winter. “This partnership grew out of a need to understand that while we do not fall under the auspices of Fayette County Public Schools, we advocate on behalf of families with Fayette County Public Schools, and they can depend on us to be the voice of children,” said Penny Christian, president of the 16th District PTA. “We were trying to reach as many families as possible on as many platforms as possible. We realized the importance of a social media presence and understood the power to bring a whole lot of people together,” she said. “We also needed to tap into the needs of families.”
Face It, which launched in May, prefers to go live on Facebook to capture viewers’ reactions and respond in the moment, but sometimes records the sessions to accommodate guests’ availability. Topics have ranged from family wellness to youth programs, and all the videos are archived on the FCPS website. “I don’t really watch it but listen while I’m cooking,” Ueda said. “Also, it’s really nice that you can pause it and come back to it.” Most episodes are presented in English and Spanish, with an introduction, questions, follow-up, and takeaways. Families’ input is welcome, and the lineup is flexible for diving deeper into a subject or producing a timely special episode.
“Our audience has grown, and we’re getting more and more ‘likes,’” Scully said. “Within the past month, we have reached nearly 6,000 people. Some of our shows have been viewed over a thousand times, so that’s exciting to see.” “It’s amazing that our Spanish-speaking episode always has a high volume of attendance,” Christian added. “We’ve had a bump in reaching families that we might not have reached before.” She also noted how each program creates a sustained buzz, saying, “The week of the episodes, it’s not just that day. We’ll get questions and post resources for the topic that week.”
Christian took the lead with the Oct. 8 episode, “Facing Parent Advocacy & Family Engagement,” and the Oct. 15 session is a special edition on “Understanding Your Child’s Learning Style.” A three-part series on “Facing Collective Trauma Together” follows with gun violence on Oct. 22, depression and suicide Nov. 5, and racial trauma Nov. 19. The post-holiday schedule is up in the air. “It really depends on what’s happening in our world,” Christian said. “We’re hoping everyone can take a break emotionally and mentally and come back rejuvenated and more positive.”
Tune in: Face It on Facebook
- The Thursday episodes begin with English at 6:30 p.m. and Spanish at 7 p.m.
(Revised Oct. 13, 2020)