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    The Power of School-Family Partnerships

    It’s not uncommon to see moms and dads at elementary schools.

    They’re known to eat lunch with their children, read books to their kids’ classes, and chaperone field trips. Children that age love seeing their parents on their school campus.

    At the high school level – not so much. The older children get, the less likely their parents are to personally engage with school leaders, in part because older students prefer more autonomy. Family engagement becomes more challenging at the middle and high school levels.

    But principal Dr. Dana Barnes embraces vanguard concepts about how involved moms, dads, grandparents, and guardians should be in secondary schools, and why their input is invaluable.

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    Dr. Dana Barnes talks with Faye Hazelwood, a parent, about the importance of school-family partnerships at the high school level.

    “There’s that misunderstanding that families are [only] very important at the elementary level,” she said, “but I’ve learned that at the high school, we have to have families. We have to come together to be able to meet the needs of the students. Our families are our key to success.”

    In 2012, when Dr. Barnes took over as principal of Chisholm Trail High in Ft. Worth, she conducted focus groups with families and asked what their goals were for their children, what their children needed specific help with at school, and what parents and guardians needed help with. An intentional focus on family engagement, Barnes says, has helped the school maintain state standards and, in 2016, receive a distinction for being in the top 25 percent of schools closing the achievement gap.

    “The key to the school’s success is working closely with the families of the students and asking for their input on everything from curriculum and college preparation to choir and the homecoming game.”

    Read about how family engagement practices are a cornerstone of Chisholm Trail’s identity and hear from parents themselves about specific ways they work with Principal Barnes and her staff to co-educate their children.

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