Family Involvement Kicks off the Year in Fletcher

Target – Engaged Community Partners. FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make a difference in their community, state, and world.

Action Step – Communication model solicits community partners.

Indicator of Success – Collaborative student projects/partnerships become part of the fabric of the broader community.

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Overwhelmingly, students whose families are engaged in their child’s education are vastly more successful – both academically and socially – in school than their peers with less family involvement. In addition, students with greater levels of family involvement in their education are much more likely to graduate from high school. Yet, between 2007 and 2012, reports of family involvement in schools across the nation remained the same or decreased.

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In Fletcher, three events to encourage family involvement have already taken place this year, beginning with Open House Wednesday evening. The event was preceded by a community lasagna dinner planned and prepared by fifth and sixth graders, their families, and teachers, as a fundraiser for their class trip. In fifth and sixth grade, students have focused on working as a team. Preparing the lasagna dinner in their self-made tie-dyed t-shirts promoted lots of teamwork, both among students and with family volunteers that helped cook and set up the space. Students, families and staff working side by side made this annual tradition – which drew a crowd that included several community members that do not have children in school – a great success. Fifth and sixth grades extended personal invitations to many community members who might not ordinarily attend the event.

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Open House in Fletcher is student-driven, with children giving the “grand tour” to family and friends. It is a remarkable time for students to share their work, learning environments, and to introduce their guests to staff. In addition, other family resources, such as a display by Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, were on hand.

In addition to Open House, Fletcher’s First Day Breakfast for families kicks off strong communication between school and home. Many families join their children in the gym for a variety of breakfast treats sponsored by Friends of Fletcher Elementary (FOFE), the school’s parent group. In addition to this being a social “welcome back” time, new staff members are introduced. The breakfast has become a long-standing tradition at Fletcher.

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Field trips also provide Fletcher families opportunities to be part of their child’s school experience. Earlier this week, several families went with the Fletcher kindergartners to the Chapin Orchard to pick apples, make cider, learn about bees and visit the animals. Fletcher works to provide multiple “entry points” for families to be involved with school, understanding that family participation during the daytime hours can be difficult for working families.

Fourth grader Eric Wimble, who attended the Fletcher Open House with his parents, said, “I love to show my parents my work and have them see what I am doing in school and meet my new teacher. I would say my parents felt good about my work. They thought what I was doing looked pretty fun.”

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Fourth Grader Malayna Sweet-Werneke said, “Kids go home and tell their parents about school but they should see it in person. Some kids don’t even talk about what they are working on, or don’t use details. It’s good for parents to see what we’re working.”

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