Lakeland News Posting

Berkshire schools host Family-School Engagement Design Showcase leveraging the expertise of Lakeland's Teachers Guild

Posted: May 26, 2022

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic parents and families have become newly engaged with their child’s education. To proactively strengthen ties between parents and the school, Berkshire Local Schools’ Superintendent John Stoddard, with support from Lakeland Community College’s Chapter of the Teachers Guild, developed community engagement design teams to identify and implement promising new strategies to build stronger family-school engagement.

Each team comprised of parents, teachers and one school administrator, used the process of human-centered design to create, test and spread innovative solutions that bring families and schools closer together. Lakeland’s Teachers Guild human-centered design experts, Rachel Siegel and Karly Smith, helped to guide the Berkshire teams through facilitated Design Sprints over the course of the 2021-2022 academic year.

“This co-design framework was developed by The Teachers Guild and School Retool on a national level, and we were thrilled to implement it here locally with Berkshire Schools,” explained Rachel Siegel, design and innovation specialist and Teachers Guild program lead at Lakeland Community College. “This innovative partnership is a great example of how organizations can work together to be a catalyst for change and better meet the needs of their school communities. We are eager to see how these results impact the parents, students, teachers and overall Berkshire community.”

The five design teams, hailing from Burton Elementary, Ledgemont Elementary and Berkshire Jr./Sr. High School, highlighted their work at a Family-Engagement Showcase Thursday, May 12, at Berkshire’s new PreK-12 facility:

Berkshire High School team #1

Focus: Build more trusting relationships with families

Topic: Connecting teachers and parents

Projects implemented:

  • Created a staff email signature for all teachers with their photo, name and contact information.
  • Brought families “into the classroom” by filming student learning, teacher instruction and project creation. Shared the videos in school communications so parents could see what was happening in class.

Berkshire High School team #2

Focus: Build more trusting relationships with families

Topic: Student mental health

Projects implemented:

  • Created a comprehensive Berkshire Jr./Sr. High School ‘Mental Health Resources’ flow chart for the purpose of communicating available mental health services at school to parents.
  • Hosted a speaker on social media use for parents and students.

Berkshire High School team #3

Focus: Strengthen the bond between school and community

Projects implemented:

  • Hosted a “meet and greet” between teachers and parents during Parent Teacher Conferences.
  • Ignited interest in a Parent-Teacher-Student Organization where parents, students and teachers work collaboratively to achieve common goals shared between the school and community.

Burton Elementary

Focus: Build more trusting relationships with families

Projects implemented:

  • Developed and implemented a “family choice board” that encourages families to participate in their child’s development and build relationships with their child’s teacher. This pilot program was so successful in the fifth grade that it is now expanding to the entire elementary school.

Ledgemont Elementary

Focus: To connect families and teachers to celebrate Ledgemont

Projects implemented:

  • Surprised families with “Bert the Badger” (the district mascot) at dismissal time to wave to the families and take pictures with students.
  • Supported families in creating posters with their favorite Ledgemont memories, then turned into a slideshow for the Ledgemont community to enjoy.

“This was a great start to reengaging our families with the school, but we don’t want to stop here. We want to continue to work with these committees and to expand to reach more families,” shared Stoddard. “The initial work focused on things that the teachers and staff could do to help increase the levels of engagement. Next, we would like to get ideas from our families about what they can do both inside and outside the school to continue this process.”

By: Kerry Jonke, Asst Director Market & Communi

Media Contact:
Kerry Jonke