Luisa Monzon-Recinos has lived in East Hartford her whole life and graduated from East Hartford High School. She now has a daughter in kindergarten and a pre-school aged son in East Hartford Public Schools. An educator turned stay-at-home mom, she found out about the Family Resource Center from a friend. Through participating in the Center’s playgroups, she received crucial information about kindergarten orientation and participated in a variety of programs, like People Empowering People (PEP), Raising Readers, U for Youth and Family Forums.
Monzon-Recinos credits Raising Readers with giving parents strategies and techniques to help develop readers at home. U for Youth focuses on school readiness (particularly in literacy and math) and provides educational benchmarks, materials, and strategies on how to attain these goals and get ahead of the game. It was also through the Family Resource Center that Monzon-Recinos learned about People Empowering People (PEP), which teaches participants skills to improve themselves as individuals and parents and how to apply these skills in life, work, school, and in the community.
As Luisa Monzon-Recinos describes, the East Hartford Public School district has been committed to ensuring that the link between family engagement and school improvement is clear and documented and that the district continues its focus on cultural competency. The new grant will support East Hartford Public Schools’ ongoing efforts to implement sweeping systemic change in district family and community engagement practices through its Partners in Achievement Initiative.
With the $596,000 in new funding, over the next year East Hartford Public Schools is especially excited to continue to enhance and expand training for teachers and school leaders on family engagement and cultural competence. Staff trained in 2017 will facilitate Study Circles in all East Hartford Public Schools in 2018, potentially resulting in more than 150 individual staff working on strengthening culturally competent practice.
“As a parent all these programs have been phenomenal,” Luisa said. “The Family Resource Center is amazing, it is really, really awesome. The staff there helped me not only to understand the public school system better, but also helped me and my family become part of the fabric of the community. The Center was the bridge that connected me from home to school; now the Office of Family, School and Community Partnership is continuing that process. Families need opportunities to become more involved and we still have more work to do to reach and educate more families. ”
According to Monzon-Recinos, five years ago these opportunities to become involved did not exist. She is now an active participant in Family Forums – which allows her to have an active voice around issues and concerns in the school and district and opens up lines of communication with the Superintendent’s office. This involvement opened the door for her to be a facilitator for the PEP class and reinvigorated her passion for learning. She is now in the process of completing her master’s degree in early childhood education.
“We are extremely pleased to continue our work together with the Hartford Foundation to systematize and institutionalize the power of working in partnership with our families,” says Superintendent Nathan D. Quesnel. “Over the past two years we have experienced incredible change and growth through this initiative and are excited to continue the work. Our work brings classrooms, living rooms, boardrooms and community rooms together surrounding kids and continues to move us forward towards achievement. We are deeply appreciative to the Foundation for their deep and generous investment in East Hartford that is already making a difference!”
With the additional funding, over the next two years the district plans to:
“East Hartford Public Schools’ Office of Family, School and Community Partnership continues to provide valuable learning opportunities for parents while building school culture that embraces the credible voice of families. I look forward to seeing the impact of the relationships built through the Partners in Achievement Initiative this year.” Jackie Coleman, Education Investments Officer, HFPG
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $720 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.
East Hartford superintendent Nathan Quesnel spoke with us last year about the importance of partnerships and parent engagement.