Engaging Family

 
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Engaging Family

Jamie Wolf, Program Director, El Sistema Colorado

05-01-2018

Family engagement is central to the Sistema theory of change. But for many ES-i programs, it’s difficult to move beyond limited communication and concerts for families a few times a semester. This year, El Sistema Colorado (ESC) invested in a staff position devoted to building deeper connections with families and our community. Within a few short months, we have already begun to improve communication, relationships, and family involvement.

Patty Segarra started in Fall 2017, salaried at 26 hours per week to be a single point of contact across all three sites. She has skills and assets that make her an ideal first Family Engagement Specialist. Not only is she bilingual, but she is also from Caracas, and worked for Sistema during its early days. She brings a passion and connection to the work that can inspire our families and keep staff on track with Abreu’s vision and the adventuresome spirit of Sistema Venezuela.

Since El Sistema Colorado aspires to serve students from elementary through high school, it’s essential that we work to build relationships with our youth and families. Patty helps our staff do this at each site. As a parent, Patty has the respect of adult ESC family members on topics from parenting strategies to good music practice habits at home. She is also building connections with other nonprofits in our neighborhoods to better serve our families. This year, Patty is managing two new efforts: 1) the opportunity for families to make voluntary financial contributions (suggestion is $10/month per family), and 2) family conferences to discuss student progress in the program. Meanwhile, she fulfills traditional site coordinator needs like monitoring attendance and welcoming our families at performances. She shepherds parent orientations and works with the district-employed Parent Liaison at each school.

ESC believes this new position will improve student retention and increase family engagement. This will be important as students transition to schools outside of our núcleo, or move from elementary to middle school. We still have a lot to learn, but we are taking the first steps towards a stronger family connection, and seeing some success!

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