Everest recognizes that programs for both parent involvement and parent education are essential components for student success in school. From the moment a family enrolls, Everest staff communicates the pledges the student, staff and parents make for this community. This first connection welcomes parents to participate in the “climb” Everest makes each year on the path from good to great. Each year, Everest hosts a summer orientation for all the new and returning families to be updated on policy and program enhancements for the upcoming year, and for the past two years, 100% of our families have attended.
Everest’s parent engagement structures have been revamped in 2016. The school focuses on two primary components: a school-led parent education program and a parent-led school involvement board. The clarity of purpose of these two functions has helped draw parents to the appropriate meetings and programs.
The Parent Board
In its first two years, in September, the parent body elected a President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer in a more formal PTO model. However, due to the drop in attendance in these meetings and some politics developing amongst parent groups, Everest introduced the Parent Board. The fundamental change in structure allowed for a much more welcoming environment for parents to join at the level or interested they desired. The Parent Board has also been able form subcommittees to deal with areas that attract enthusiasm from specific parents.
This year, Everest’s Board model held a nomination process in November instead of September, so parents could all become familiar with the campus culture before committing to taking on a leadership role. Everest first invited any parents, interested in becoming actively involved in school issues, to join the board without assigning a specific role. These members of the parent board then elected a representative to act as the board chair.
Parent Board meetings take place on the evening of the second Tuesday of the month, and invite all parents, teachers and students. The Parent Board chair prepares the meeting agenda, which includes input from the ongoing discussions with staff and parents targeting improvement with school operations, academic data, facility, and parent culture.
In previous years, many engaged parents had been informally meeting and chatting after they dropped of their students in the morning. They would discuss future school events, concerns and ways parents could contribute to the school. This year, under the direction of the Parent Board, these morning meetings have been formalized and included as part of the monthly agendas input. Having both the morning meeting and the Parent Board in the evenings has allowed more parents to stay informed and contribute to the school’s improvement.
At Parent Board meetings, both student and after school staff representatives update parents on upcoming events and ways parents can support programming. The Parent Board is very collaborative and has become the vehicle for parents, teachers, staff, and students to join together and take ownership of the progress on campus.
Parent Involvement at EVS
Under the Parent Board, parents have used their time, energy, and talents to choose a committee on which they want to serve. Parents have donated time and/or money to support the following events:
ELAC committee: This committee reviews CELDT data, discusses the RFEP and suggests ways to help a student at home.
LCAP committee: This committee reviews the previous year’s goals and action plans. They will be presenting parent feedback for the annual updates to the larger LCAP committee in March.
School Site Council: Parents work with the council to develop, review and evaluate school improvement programs.
Fundraising Committee: This committee discusses fundraising efforts throughout the year, benefiting classroom trips and/or events.
Family Nights: Every trimester, parents work with classroom teachers to support and attend scheduled events.
Performing Arts Committee: This committee supports the Music/Theatre program in marketing, fundraising and gathering resources for school performances.
Parent Traffic Committee: This committee supports morning car drop off by directing traffic to help alleviate congestion.
Event Planning Committees: This committee organizes parent volunteers and item donations for school events. Some events include, but are not limited to: fall festival, winter show, and staff appreciation day.
Graduation Committees: This committee works with Kinder, Fifth and Eighth grade teachers to organize a graduation reception
Parent led involvement has strengthened a collaborative effort to plan, review, and improve school initiatives. Below are a few initiatives that have been recently directed through the Parent Board:
- Student drop off and dismissal procedures, including car pick-up
- School maintenance audit
- Parent English Classes
- Family Wellness Classes
Everest aims to provide parents with the necessary tools to support academic success. Parent Wednesday is a weekly school led initiative that provides parents with information on a variety of topics, including strategies to build academics at home and introduction to local resources that compliment student success. The Parent Wednesday monthly schedule reflects the current needs and interests based on parent feedback. The Dean serves as a liaison between teacher, staff, and parents, ensuring communication between stakeholders. The Parent Wednesday platform empowers parents in the following ways:
“Meet the Staff” workshops are sessions that present allow school to present specific curriculum, program goals and their department’s role on campus. Staff speakers have included the ELD coordinator, afterschool director, science coordinator, school office staff, and mentor teachers. A question and answer dialogue is held at every meeting.
The workshop series on interpreting NWEA, SBAC and CELDT scores.
In the workshop series titled Parent Leadership at Every Grade, the Dean presents community building activities and strategies to help sustain parent leadership at the different student age groups. The parents are encouraged to take part in the various Value 5 projects to support the school’s vision to make a better world.
A technology workshop series hosted by Values Board member Erika Martinez invites parents to understand how to guide their children to use appropriately use technology. There will also be sessions for parents on excel and other software that could help them reach their potential in the job market.
There are several workshop series inviting community organization partnerships. This year the partnership with the Children’s Bureau resulted in a weekly on site ‘Mommy and Me’ parenting class. Local law enforcement, community organization representatives, as well as board member Monica Garcia, have met with our parent leadership to educate parents about local resources available to them.
There was a workshop series on discussing healthy student habits, from eating a balanced meal to exploring local museums, and libraries.
Through Parent Wednesday meetings, parents have also offered feedback to the Everest leadership. Recently the focus has been on neighborhood safety. In response to this, meetings were scheduled for parents to meet with members of the Los Angeles police department and the Deputy City Attorney. Based on the commitment to have Everest be an integral part of the community, our parent leadership board members have been invited to and attended the following community events:
- Board member, Monica Garcia, parent meeting
- Heal the Bay on Venice Beach
- Volunteers for Thanksgiving Dinner to Feed the Needy, Angelica Lutheran Church
- Coffee with LAPD
- Children’s Bureau, Mommies and Me
- Operations Shoe Giveaway
- My Child, My Choice Rally
- National Night Out, Olympic Division Police
- Magnolia Community Initiative, Belong Partner Event
- Breese Partner Events, including community resource fairs.
- LIFT- Los Angeles – Financial Literacy Workshops
- Pico Union Neighborhood Cleanups
Parent Engagement during Distance Learning
The Value Schools organization has made the decision to ensure that every family had access to a computer and broadband in their home, because the K-8 academic program would be primarily digital. Over 150 new Chromebooks have been purchased this summer to allow every student to have an upgraded device. The school has also identified dozens of families to provide internet “hot spots” to support with Zoom and the streaming needs of the classroom. Whether the school opens in Phase 1 or 2, each student will borrow a device for the entire school year which allows the technology coordinator to trouble shoot and monitor use remotely.
All through the spring and summer, the school has been working to ease the fears of a possible return to campus through regular zoom meetings and discussions with parents. Everest ran a social media campaign, using Facebook, to ensure all parents had access to counseling and other nonprofit support services.
Everest Value has been aggressive in its outreach and support to all families with adapting to Google Classrooms, Zoom and having to become part of the educational experience for their child. The Dean has led the “call team” of staff members assigned to each classroom, which follows up on any students who are absent or disengaged in any way. Often technology issues or family living space can cause distraction and frustration, and the Dean has worked with this team to trouble shoot.
If the team in unable to make contact, the Dean uses the Emergency Contact Binder from the school’s emergency plan to locate others in the family and identify any change in contact information. In extreme cases, the team refers the parent to the Value Schools Attendance Coordinator, who investigates and follows up with a series of calls to work with the family to find solutions, often times partnering with the school counselor.
The Parent Education component in distance learning has transformed into an ongoing series called the Parent Partnership where parents are now receiving training and support in academics and behavior management much closer to what we give our Everest staff.