Thanks to Dr. Michelle CarneyRay-Yoder, Sara Cowey, Rhett Ladner, Dr. Darrin Peppard, and Dr. Steve Woolf for sharing their ideas for this article.
What ongoing groups have strong parent involvement?
- Face-to-face connection is always strongest, so try Parent Coffees, Dad Groups, and Mom Groups.
- Parents seem really connected to our “Booster Groups” (athletics, music, drama, dance, PTO, etc.).
- We’ve had good engagement with a PIQE program (Parent Institute for Quality Education) that offers families training to help them help their kids with school-related habits and decisions.
What special events do you use to connect with parents?
- Meet and greets with parents who are new to the school.
- Our Renaissance parents really enjoy our annual end of year dinner celebration for families, staffulty, alumni guests and our business partners.
- A large group of parents attend the school’s Foundation’s “Gala” benefit dinner and silent auction.
- Our bi-weekly Parent Camp series offers a variety of relevant topics for parents, with free childcare. (Click here for flyer example.)
- Forums on mental health, vaping, college preparedness, “screenagers,” SAT’s vs. ACT’s.
- Host a screening and discussion of a film about education such as “Race to Nowhere.”
- Guest speakers or panels such as Dr. Denise Pope or Stanford educators.
- We are having a “family dinner” where students and their families come to a dinner sponsored by community restaurants and put down their phones.
- Family movie night with sponsors for food and other giveaways to send a drug free message. It was very well received.
What other kinds of outreach have been effective?
- Proud parent car writing promo in the spring, where our Renaissance leaders write messages on cars at morning drop-off to spread the message of loving our school.
- We have raffles for families who show up to events and also give our large denomination of school “bucks” for the children of parents who participate. Any time we’ve given out something the students will benefit from at school, parents come. We’ve even done “no homework passes” or perk passes for parent participation.
- Speaking about our school community at any and every opportunity – civic clubs and organizations, faith groups (church), inter-governmental organizations, etc.
- I do a monthly column in the newspaper and have done a weekly radio show where I can talk about these topics. Most recently we have done internal and external videos that I record to get the word out on things that I want communicated.
What topics do you think your parents would love more information on?
- Social media and phone usage
- Prevention tools for vaping (Juuls)
- Mental health and wellness (anxiety, suicide prevention, depression)
- College readiness
How do you recognize parents or supporters who go “above and beyond”?
- We give a “service award” to senior parents that have volunteered a lot over the course of their children’s tenure at our school (giving a certificate, pin, and small gift). (See the Idea Exchange for ideas on using “Rock Star Award Certificates” and “Parents Are the Key to Our Success Keychains” and find the items below.)
- Celebratory breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Gratitude token(s), cards or end of year Graduation gifts. I have seen stoles, cords for parents and “supporters” at the college level but not at high school.
What kinds of giveaways have parents liked?
- Thank you cards with handwritten, specific messages
- VTW (visible, tangible, walk-aroundable) items to remind them and their students of our appreciation, preferably something they use every day
- Small things like mugs, keychains, magnets, tokens, stickers, decals, etc.
Visit the Renaissance Store to order these items and many other culture and climate supplies:
Click here for a flyer showing Parent Camp programming. Thanks to Dr. Kimberly Gruccio.
Click here for a brochure with “68 Parent Involvement Ideas That Really Work” from The Parent Institute.