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    Seattle Public School families Share Their Knowledge and Wisdom at a Multi-city Convening
    Posted on 09/19/2018
    Presenters at the conference smile for a photo

    Seattle Public School families Share Their Knowledge and Wisdom at a Multi-city Convening

    Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and partner organization, Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), honor the expertise, diversity, and leadership parents bring to our community. As families are students’ first and foremost teachers, SHA and SPS recognize that partnering with families is critical to the success of students in school, careers, and life. Recently, SPS and SHA partnered with two parents to co-present on family engagement at the Family-Centered Community Change Annual Convening hosted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.

    During June 26th – June 29th, The Annie E. Casey Foundation convened teams from Buffalo, Columbus, and San Antonio who received Family-Centered Community Change grants. Seattle was invited to share our partnership and strategies to the group. The Seattle presentation team included Kathlyn Paananen, Housing and Education Manager at Seattle Public Schools, Roy Chan, Strategic Advisor for Education at Seattle Housing Authority, and Ann Okwowolu and Fahmo Abdulle, SPS alumni, parents, and residents of the NewHolly community.

    Roy and Kathlyn presented on the SHA/SPS partnership and the many ways they are engaging with families around education. Through the partnership, educators seek to build positive relationships with families by visiting them at home or a location most comfortable to them. In Seattle Public Schools, parents and children are defining what cultural responsive teaching materials mean to them, and have created their own Somali Alphabet Book for children now available in elementary schools and public libraries across the city. In the NewHolly community, about a dozen parents, including Ann and Fahmo, are meeting to identify their educational concerns and problem solve as a community through a co-designed project. Staff and parents take turns to co-facilitate and develop meeting agendas to eventually result in a community designed project.

    Ann and Fahmo led the presentation, sharing their advice and wisdom and how they have taken the initiative to address education and community concerns. Ann was instrumental in hosting the 3rd annual Juneteenth Celebration at Van Asselt Community Center. She shared to the audience that at the event, families could connect to health, education, transportation, and other resources.

    Fahmo has been a leader in connecting families to schools and helping students and families access educational resources. She spoke about the proud honor of seeing all the seniors she supported in the 2017-18 school year graduate from high school. The Seattle presentation sparked conversations with each of the cities on authentic family engagement, racial equity, and opportunities for families to be partners at the table and not just recipients.

    The Seattle Public Schools and Seattle Housing Authority partnership highlights how the Seattle community is working in partnership with families to support student success and eliminate opportunity gaps.