Dear Global Giving friends,
In Fall 2013, we quietly celebrated 15 years since a small coalition of mothers, community organizers and school teachers joined together for their mutual interest: their children. There’s been a sense of accomplishment here this fall, of puzzle pieces falling into place after years of very hard work at the grassroots.
First of all, our much anticipated national conference brought educators, community members, families, funders and policy makers to San Francisco. We don’t mind saying it was the best ever! We laughed a lot and shed a few tears together as people shared their stories of how home visits have transformed their kids, their teaching methods, and their own assumptions. The program was focused on both action and reflection, as we strategized on best practices and next steps for our growing movement.
Also at the conference, we collected the latest statistics from our affiliates: a snapshot of how much home visiting is happening out there. And the results? Unprecedented. In the last year, our grassroots affiliates across the country:
In conjunction with the conference, the newly formed national board of directors met for the first time, focusing on governance, funding and nominations. The national organization is officially launched! You will be hearing more about the national board’s actions in future reports.
Our program is inexpensive, replicable and effective in a wide variety of cities and there is no way we could have made it this far without your contribution. With your help, we will only increase our momentum in 2014! Please consider making a significant gift to the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project in the first quarter of 2014, so that we may train more teachers, reach more families and make a relational difference in education.
Carrie Rose and Lisa Levasseur
Dear PTHVP friends,
The Parent Teacher Home Visit Project has been busy. Our model of training, support, and relationship building has proved effective in a wide variety of settings this year, from urban Washington, D.C. to rural Billings, Montana. Our program has not only trained hundreds, and visited thousands, but has also implemented the exciting strategy called Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT), which deepen the relationship between families and schools, resulting in greater student success.
From an organizational perspective, PTHVP continues to grow into a national network. We are about to hold our annual conference, which brings together home visit practitioners, education leaders and policy makers from around the country. This year, held in San Francisco, over 300 will be in attendance. Following the conference, we’ll send in a report that gives you the stats on work throughout the nation. For now, take the example of Sacramento, CA, where the project started fifteen years ago. The following numbers give you an idea of the exciting activity in just one place, the Sacramento City Unified School District, in 2012.
Academic Parent Teacher Teams
All this incrediable transformational work would not be possible without the support from our donors like you. Thanks for thinking of us!
Home Visit Teacher Published in Educational Leadership! Stephanie Smith's passion for building relationships with her students goes far beyond her classroom walls. Since 2009, Smith has participated in Sacramento City School District's Home Visit Project. She writes eloquently about this commitment to visiting families at their homes in "Would You Walk Through My Door?" an article published in this month's Educational Leadership. The educational journal's May 2013 issue is titled "The Faces of Poverty.” Smith shares her belief that "home visits are especially essential in areas characterized by poverty and diversity. Most teachers come from a middle-class background and have never experienced the realities of low-income students' lives. It's my responsibility to experience and embrace that reality, even if just for 30 minutes in a student's living room." Smith continues, "The school is always asking parents to enter our world--to come to conferences or family nights or volunteer in classrooms. I want to return the favor and go into your world."Smith's journey with Sacramento City Unified School District’s Home Visit Project began in 2009 at Harkness Elementary School. There, she saw the positive impacts that home visits had on her classroom community. When moving to Oak Ridge in 2010, Smith had no doubt that she would continue weekly visits with her students' families. To date, Smith has completed 80 home visits, 26 of which have occurred this year. This commitment to home visits has surprised Smith, since her own childhood experiences initially caused her to question the mission of the Home Visit Project. Stephanie's family would not have been eager to invite one of her teachers home. Smith recalls, "the abyss between the school’s bright lights and the government housing I grew up in was great and it would’ve been too embarrassing to allow any teacher to cross it." But Smith persists in arranging visits with the parents of her 3rd graders because she knows it’s essential for teachers to see the realities of home life for students living in poverty-- and how much relationship building and insight into students’ hidden strengths a family visit can yield. "As embarrassed as I was by my own childhood home, I can't help but wonder how things would have been different if a teacher had visited my house. That teacher might have seen my brother's hilarious sense of humor and my mom's sheer determination to make her children's lives better than her own-- and seen more clearly why I was so shy and lacking in confidence." Smith knows that the hidden strengths of her students may only be visible in their own living rooms. Stephanie's article concludes with a call to action to the Educational Leadership readers: "The paradigm needs to shift in schools that serve poor students. Teachers need to spend less energy complaining about parents' lack of involvement--or even brainstorming how we can get parents to step through the school doors. Instead, teachers need to ask themselves when are they going to step though students' front doors. This shift can make all the difference--to students, families and school culture."Smith gives fellow teachers tips for home visits in her Educational Leadership article, "Would You Walk Through My Door?":1. Never go alone. Invite the teacher of your student's siblings, or other staff members (including translators) to accompany you.
2. Ask your principal for training (Parent Teacher Home Visit Project www.pthvp.org)
3. Bring a gift. Something as small as a baggie of school supplies shows your appreciation and breaks the ice.
4. Take copious notes after each visit. Write down information that you learned from the families and keep these notes going after every communication you have with the family. Review these notes before conferences.
5. Don't worry about timing. It's ideal to get as many home visits done in the fall. This is a time to send out a general request to visit. Then, make phone calls to arrange visits early on with those parents with whom you anticipate needing a strong relationship.
6. Don't worry about the location. Just get yourself off campus and go to a place where the parents feel comfortable: a park, a restaurant, or their front yard.
Thanks for making this type of work possible for all interested teachers and families! We couldn't do this transformational work without your support!
Carrie Rose, Executive Director and Lisa Levasseur, Project Director
Dear generous donor,
In our report this quarter I would like to share with you a short story that I was privileged to read on how your donation has impacted students, teachers and families all across America.
I have been teaching now for 13 years and in my 13 years I must say that home visits are the number one way to make connections with our students and families. It empowers everyone to work together, as a team. I also believe that it improves the student’s academic and behavioral performances in the classroom. This year has been a fabulous year for home visits, as I was able to meet up with at least 10 of my students before school started, and I have continued to meet with families throughout the school year. (Next school year, my goal is to meet ALL my students before the school year starts.) Home visits have been a great avenue to get to know your students beyond the classroom. This year I have one student whose home visit stands out in my mind. During conference time, I was unable to meet up with this particular family. I really wanted to meet up with his parents because his behavioral issues inside and outside of the classroom were increasing. Plus, in my opinion he wasn’t working up to his full potential academically. With the help of my school's parent advocate, we were able to get a time set up for the home visit. I had received a lot of previous information about the parents. I had heard rumors that the dad always believed his son never did anything wrong. When the boy was in 2nd grade the father was very threatening to his teacher. I was a little concerned about going over to their house, but I knew I needed to go. (I really should have gone before school started!) When we entered the house, the parent advocate broke the ice and dad seemed to be happy. We all sat down and I began commenting on all the good things I have witnessed about their son. Parents were really receptive to this. We were also able to ask the parent what they wanted and expected from their son (hope and dreams). With their information that they shared, I was able to start talking about the dreaded behavior issues I was having in the classroom. While the meeting was still positive, the child grew a little uncomfortable as the parents started questioning him on what was happening in the classroom. At this point the child realized that we (the parents, and school educators) were on same team and he had to join, by changing his behavior. He did this and has also started working up to his potential and made an increase of I believe 20% on ELA bench mark test. From that point on the parents have been more involved and checking in with me to see how their son is doing. When there is a behavior issue, it is much easier for me to call home because after that home visit I knew we were on the same team together. While the student still struggles with behavior and academics, he is improving. Home visits build a team that work together for the betterment of the students. In fact, we have one teacher who just recently had a line of parents trying to set up a time for her to come to their homes. I can’t stress enough how much it helps the communication for our school.
This story is just one example of how your donation to the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project has helped teachers to get trained and to continue to conduct home visits. Without your donation this work would not be possible in one state let alone 14 states. Please don't forget about us in the future; together we can make a positive impact for all students!
I believe the paradigm needs to be shifted in public schools, specifically schools serving the poor. Less energy needs to be spent on complaining, or at best brainstorming, how we teachers can get parents to step foot through our school doors. Instead, I challenge the shift to start with first asking if we would step foot through the parents’ front door. The Parent Teacher Home Visit Project makes such a shift possible for teachers.
Stephanie Smith, Oakridge Elementary School, Sacramento.
When school districts are under fiscal and accountability pressures, family and community engagement is usually the first thing to go. Given dramatic reductions in funding for public education these are challenging times for our colleagues across the country. In the midst of this, we went ahead and planned for our Sixth National Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project annual gathering in Denver, Colorado. We wondered if we should scale back our plans or trust our instincts that we needed to gather now, more than ever. We trusted our instincts as did our supporters - CS Mott Foundation National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and PICO National Network- and our many partners schools across thirteen states!
Thanks to a coordinated effort we were able to gather together 260 parents, caregivers, community members, educators and administrators for the Sixth National Parent Teacher Home Visit Project. Conference participants are directly involved in the experience of conducting or receiving home visits as well as leading the effort in their local communities. Whether it was Melissa Bryant , a veteran teacher, or Katrina Branch, a parent and former student, both from Stanton Elementary School in Washington DC who experienced a school that was a “hot mess” move into a place where students experienced dramatic increases in student test scores. Or Yvette Juarez, a middle school student in Denver CO, who talked about what it meant to her to have a teacher come to her home and talk about her success in school. Or the teachers who were on the verge of quitting or families on the verge of giving up on their local schools or the community members tired of seeing their children drop out and lose opportunity, the home visiting testimony and experiences demonstrated that relational home visits are a key foundation step leading to increased family engagement, better teaching and learning, and increased student academic and social success. The testimony helps us understand the power of the numbers.
Here’s what we tallied in our time together:
In just the past year, network partners under the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project trained 2577 teachers. We expanded to 209 participating school sites in 13 states. Together, we conducted 13,391 relational home visits! Given preliminary counts for this coming year, I expect our totals to go even higher next year- even with the challenges before us. At the conference we created the opportunity and space to deepen our work. Network partners from around the country paired up and led breakout sessions where we shared data and data collection systems, adaptations of home visiting (in rural communities, for those whom English is a second language, and in secondary schools) and new learning that covered topics as diverse as the impact of trauma on school communities and teaching and learning, as well as, the introduction of Academic Parent Teaching Team conferencing in home visit schools. We also explored resources and reviewed current national policy and trends regarding family engagement and education reform. We built our personal capacity to better sever students. We strengthened our local projects by sharing and learning. Mostly, we were inspired by each other and renewed in our commitment to this important work. We know that family and community engagement is an essential component for school and student success and we know that even in the face of difficult times, we must invest in this area for the sake of our students.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your conitnued support of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project. Without your generous donations this project would not be possible.
From all the PTHVP staff we wish you a safe and happy holiday!
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.
local project director/teacher