The new Family-Community Resource Centers at Hudson’s Bay and Fort Vancouver are part of the district’s expanded work in the Family Engagement/Family-Community Resource Center Design II goal area. More than 60 percent of students at both schools receive free- or reduced-price meals, and 12 percent of Fort students are English language learners. To help remove barriers to learning, the FCRCs offer access to a wide range of programs and community partners. In addition, in 2013 Fort received a $50,000 grant to boost student attendance. The school’s FCRC team is working to engage students with absenteeism issues, as well as their families.
“Recently the work we’re doing in our Family-Community Resource Centers was recognized by the Data Quality Campaign for the use of high-quality data to engage district stakeholders to improve student achievement,” said Jennifer Blechschmidt, director, Family-Community Resource Centers. “As a result of that, we were interviewed by the Organization and Management Group Center for Collaborative Learning for an article that will be published in the next two to three weeks.”
Blechschmidt introduced the FCRC team from Fort: Madeleine Nava, FCRC coordinator; Diana Avalos-Leos, family and community engagement coordinator; and Todd Diskin, student-family engagement coordinator.
As a new employee at Fort, FCRC Coordinator Maddie Nava has been building relationships. She partners with Fort mentoring programs DYMs (Dynamic Young Men) and BOWs (Brilliant Outstanding Women). Nava started a study group for students, works on building partnerships and participates in family events including a FAFSA night to help students and families apply for college financial aid. On May 9, the school will host an International Family Night. Nava also plans to partner with Chelsea Unger, FCRC coordinator at Hudson’s Bay High School, to survey students in order to build and strengthen the FCRC program.
Working in partnership with Nava, Avalos-Leos helps students find volunteer opportunities to better engage them in school. “Our students at Fort and those at Hudson’s Bay High School volunteer at district FCRC sites,” she said. Students may help set up for meetings, act as tutors and mentors for after-school activities or read with younger students on family literacy nights. Some of the bilingual students volunteer at the Southwest Washington Free Clinic.
“This provides students the opportunity to give back to the community and to fulfill the graduation requirement for community service.” Avalos-Leos hopes to expand these volunteer opportunities next year to students at all high schools in the district.
Diskin is working on attendance at Fort Vancouver. “Chronic absenteeism—missing more than 10 percent of the school year—is a red flag in terms of a student’s ability to be successful and to graduate,” said Diskin. “We want all of our students in school and ready to learn.”
Currently about 44 percent of students at Fort are chronically absent (missing 10 percent of school days per year). Diskin is using data to identify students who are missing school and create strategic solutions to support them. He makes wakeup phone calls to students, visits homes and calls parents. To change the school culture, he listens to teachers, parents and students. In March he held an “attendance madness” event to get parents and students excited about coming to school. During this event he also learned of the challenges they have in getting to school. Currently, Diskin is working with McLoughlin Middle School to begin a culture of attendance with eighth-graders.