In this digital age of emailing, texting, Tweeting and Facebooking, Principal Danisha Keeler has not abandoned an oldie-but-goody method for communicating directly with parents: Face-to-face, open door, anybody-can-come.
For the past four years, the Jefferson School leader has held a monthly morning “Coffee and Conversation” session to keep parents and community members in touch with school developments and district news –- and to give them a chance to ask questions about whatever’s on their mind.
Why does she do it?
“To build a connection with the families and to let them know what’s going on,” Keeler said. “It’s part of school culture that our parents feel involved, that they feel like they know what’s going on, both at our campus and in our district.”
Keeler said the hour-long campus meetings, which attract anywhere from 15 to 25 people per month, are consistent with NUSD’s District Goal to, “Engage parents and families to support student success in school.”
The agenda for October’s Coffee and Conversation session included a presentation by math expert Nick Freathy on Common Core mathematics, a show-of-hands Ed Center survey about distributing flyers by email, and information about the Superintendent’s Advisory Council, the English Learner Advisory Council, two school fundraising programs, and reminders about various campus-related matters.
As parents who attend “Coffee and Conversation” talk with parents who don’t, information spreads. “I think it gives (attendees) a sense of leadership as well, because they know what’s going on,” Keeler said. “So when other parents ask, or have issues, they can always say, ‘Oh, at Coffee and Conversation we talked about that and this is what Ms Keeler said…”
Yovana Izquierdo, mother of a kindergartener and a 4th grader, said the monthly meetings help parents get to know Ms. Keeler and other Jefferson staffers. “It matters because it connects them to their children, it connects them to whatever the students are learning and whatever the schools are implementing, like Common Core,” she said. “I really do recommend that parents come to these meetings.”
Added parent Clem Avila: “I think it’s a good idea to get parents involved in what’s going on and what students are learning in class, and the different programs. The problem is that not enough parents can come unless they’re stay-at-home parents.”