Family Connectors University teaches families how to advocate for their students and communities
A Roosevelt High School mom who wants to help fellow native Spanish speakers connect with their children’s schools.
A UW visiting professor from Korea who wants to better understand the Seattle Public Schools system his children are now attending.
A STEM Liaison for Bellevue College who wants to enhance her work with high school students in the Running Start program.
These are the kinds of family and community members who enroll in Family
Connectors University, a 10-week series of classes offered by Seattle Public Schools. The idea is to empower families with information on how to navigate the school system, how to create a college-going culture, and how to support children’s academic success. Participants become “connectors” between their schools, their students and the larger community.
“I wanted to know about the educational system in the U.S.,” said Charlie Kim, the visiting professor, in a recent class. “I want to support my children.”
Kim is enrolled in the current quarter at the program’s University of Washington location, which is run by both the Seattle Public Schools and North Seattle College.
The program is free for families whose students qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, and is offered at a reduced rate of $32 per quarter for other families. Participants can even get college credit.
“We truly believe that in Seattle Public Schools we must work with families as equal partners in the education of our children,” said Bernardo Ruiz, Seattle Public Schools’ Director of School Family Partnerships. “Family Connectors University gives families the knowledge, the tools and the skills they need to more effectively advocate for our students and our schools.”
Week seven covers “Preparing Families and Students for College and Career,” and at the recent session Seattle Public Schools staff covered graduation requirements (which are changing), getting into and paying for college, and what families can do to prepare their children. Then they discussed their final projects.
Lindi Mujugira, the STEM Liaison at Bellevue College is going to be attending her school’s PTSA meetings to see if there are certain groups that aren’t involved and look for ways to reach out to them. She says what has been most useful about Family Connectors University so far is the wealth of information about things like: the structure of the school district, legislation and advocacy, testing standards, resources in the community, information on college readiness, and more.
“The instructors and organizers have been great!” she said.
Other partners in Family Connectors University are Africatown Center of Education and Innovation, MESA Seattle, Seattle University and the UW.
“We really appreciate the leadership of North Seattle College, Seattle University and the University of Washington for their partnership in adding to the capacity of families to become more engaged in their children’s learning,” Ruiz said.