Lafayette a Model in Earning ‘Family Friendly Schools’ Certification
Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) embraces families as vital partners in the effective, well-rounded education of our students. One of the district’s priorities is to improve our system of support for engaging parents/caregivers and the community as we strive to enhance schools and student success. At the state level, the Prichard Committee’s Kentucky Collaborative for Families and Schools salutes outstanding efforts with a “Family Friendly Schools” designation, and FCPS is excited that Lafayette High School is the first here to receive this certification.
“The process of completing the application was an eye-opener. It allowed me as an administrator and Lafayette as a community to take a deeper dive into truly identifying how we engage families,” Assistant Principal Tommy Johnson recalled.
In a key move, Lafayette created a diverse team made up of families, community members, teachers, support staff, and Johnson as the administrative lead. They used a self-assessment tool to evaluate what Lafayette was doing well and where there was room to improve relationships with families. Then the team implemented new practices to improve the school’s Family Friendly score.
“Family engagement is something that has always been and will continue to be embedded in our school culture, with the goal of informing and empowering our students and families. Therefore, our work was not getting the initiative off the ground but rather finding new and more effective ways to engage our families,” Johnson said. “Over the past couple years, we’ve had to rethink the way we view and conduct our opportunities for family engagement to meet their needs. Engaged families is one of our biggest assets, so it’s important that we create avenues of communication.”
Our district’s Department of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) stands ready to help schools across FCPS. “We are proud of the intentional work done by Lafayette, and as a district we will continue to strengthen our engagement with families,” said Miranda Scully, the FACE director. “Embracing this effort will increase learning, overall opportunities, and success for our students in and outside of our classrooms.”
On the path to Family Friendly, schools can first aim for basic targets such as making sure their front office is welcoming; involving students, families, and employees in important decisions; and visiting parents/caregivers at home instead of asking them to come to the school. Other resources could help align a school’s efforts, such as their Family Resource Centers and Youth Services Centers, Title I programs, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and PTA/PTSA chapters. Scully and colleagues Sharon Mofield-Boswell and Lindsay Mattingly also provide guidance for the school-based FACE teams, which can coordinate these resources for better use of funding, volunteers, communication, and staff time. Schools simply start where they are and then look to establish new supports and programs to address gaps in service.
Meanwhile at Lafayette, Johnson ensures his school remains flexible and proactive. “As conditions for community engagement evolve, so will we –” he said, “finding new and improved ways to meet the needs of our students.”
Posted Jan. 20, 2023