Family University: Program shows parents, guardians are valued partners in students’ lives

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By Tammy L. Lane
Special to KyForward

Parents, guardians, and other caregivers need to know they are valued partners in their students’ journey through Fayette County Public Schools. That’s why Miranda Scully and Rose Santiago are excited about the Family University initiative, which launched this fall.

“We’ll provide a welcoming learning environment so our families can understand and navigate the education system. We also want families to know they’re supported by the whole school district and fully embrace that they are partners in student success,” said Scully, district coordinator in the Family and Community Engagement office (FACE).

Family University, or Fam U, will provide classes, workshops, and other informational events that familiarize people not only with the schools but also with community resources. The program will also assist families as their children transition from elementary to middle to high school and on to postsecondary opportunities.

Miranda Scully (pictured) and Rose Santiago are excited about the Family University initiative, which launched this fall. (Photo Provided)

Miranda Scully (pictured) and Rose Santiago are excited about the Family University initiative, which launched this fall. (Photo Provided)

A half-day introductory session is slated for Saturday Dec. 10 at BCTC’s Newtown campus. Superintendent Manny Caulk will open by defining student success, and District Assessment Coordinator Peggy Hayes will talk about understanding student data and test scores. Three leaders from the 16th District PTA – Adrienne Thakur, Sharon Mofield-Boswell, and Kristin Sajadi – will then discuss “Building a Partnership: Identifying Next Steps for Parents.”

Fam U is free. Breakfast will be served, and activities for youngsters will be available, along with language interpreters. In addition, Scully and Santiago will seek feedback from participants for developing upcoming plenary sessions and breakouts.

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The overall goal is to engage, empower, and collaborate with families, which Caulk cites as one of his core values. While Scully and Santiago, the FACE district liaison, are both new to FCPS, their backgrounds and experiences have prepared them well.

“Being Hispanic, a minority, an English language learner, and a (former) teacher and administrator, I see myself as an advocate for students and for parents. I can also help schools have systems in place to help students succeed by understanding the culture and the needs of their population,” said Santiago, whose previous work spanned numerous states and countries.

Scully, whose degrees are in social work, has focused on state-level family/community outreach in Indiana and student academic counseling in Kentucky. “Being with Fayette County schools allows me to continue to support families through education,” she said.

Both staffers are networking effectively through Fam U’s steering committee, which includes representatives from the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, the 16th District PTA and its Urban Family Engagement Network (UFEN), the Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County, and the YMCA of Central Kentucky.

“FCPS is truly invested in its students, in its families, and its community partners,” Scully said. “We want this to be an opportunity where we’re all coming around the table to support student success.”

Tammy L. Lane is website editor for Fayette County Public Schools

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