On December 7th, The Education Foundation of Collier County hosted a Get On The Bus Roundtable and Reception hosted by the Naples Grande and supported by the Mary Ingram Fund of the Columbus Foundation and Pearson Digital. This event brought together teachers, administrators and parents from all across Collier County, along with high school students, and other community members in conversation about how to better engage parents in the academic success of their children.
Each table at the Roundtable incorporated these different viewpoints, and participants explored the following questions:
• What strategies are currently used to engage parents?
• If there is robust parent involvement, what is the impact on students?
• What different strategies could lead all parents and volunteers to be involved in achieving success?
The Roundtable is an extension of the Connect Now Community Engagement initiative of The Education Foundation. Connect Now was designed to develop a process that would gatherinput to determine the community’s collective values and goals for education; create environments for productive conversations and to ultimately provide an opportunity for collaborative and organizational leadership in support of schools.
The initial stage of Connect Now was an 18-month process that listened to and elicited a clear statement from the community articulating shared goals for education. Hundreds of residents from across Collier County participated in 54 conversations (in English, Spanish and Creole) about what they wanted for their community and schools. A representative group of 46 individuals then came together in three working sessions to craft from all of the input gathered a Community Statement that would provide a platform on which to move forward. This Statement was published in the Naples Daily News April 5, 2009.
Through these conversations, the Foundation learned how valuable it would be to provide opportunities for a teacher from every school, along with school-level leaders, towork together between schools and with the community and the Building Bridges work was begun last year. The Roundtable brought parents and students in to be integrated into this framework.
It was also discovered that the community could benefit from one place to learn about opportunities around education. One of the new tools that is providing connections between the community and schools is The Education Foundation’s new Get On The Bus website—www.GetOnTheBusCollier.org. Easy-to-navigate and interactive, it makes support of education in Collier County a mutually engaging experience. Once all the functions become available, students and families will be able to access local scholarship resources. Educators and schools will be able to post classroom and school needs and specify volunteer opportunities. Individuals, businesses, and organizations in the community will be able to find volunteer opportunities, post volunteer/internship opportunities.
Everyone has a role to play in educating our community’s children. Find your seat and get involved! Visit www.GetOnTheBusCollier.org.