CPPS of Seattle’s Parent Volunteer Mentorship
The strong families, strong community volunteer program run by Chicago’s Logan Square Neighborhood Association impressed us plenty (featured in this Seattle Times story). So we launched one tailored just for Seattle. We studied at their Parent Engagement Institute in 2014 and piloted at Dearborn Park International Elementary in that year. In fall of 2015, we started recruiting in Roxhill Hill Elementary.
- Parent Volunteer Mentorship brochure
Student learning, first and foremost
Parent mentors support student learning directly through volunteer tutoring in the classroom. And as community leaders, they also mentor other parents and help staff connect with the different neighborhood cultures, for instance Vietnamese, Somali or Latino communities.
Why is this approach successful?
- Extra eyes, ears and hands, ready to help
- Diverse role models for students
- Often instructional support in a child’s first language
- Deep and trusting relationships between teacher and volunteer.
These in turn promote strong family and community ties with the schools. Longterm study of schools that dramatically improved student achievement (and sustained it) showed these ties are an essential component of school success. When missing, efforts in all other areas – including professional capacity and instructional guidance – falter.
- Personal growth and leadership development for Parent Volunteer Mentors.
Along with volunteering in class as tutors for at least 100 hours, parent volunteer mentors participate in weekly training and coaching activities. These hone their skills and develop their capacity to set and achieve personal goals and support stronger educational outcomes for children. Graduates often go on to become community leaders or educators.
What excites us is how (in the words of the Logan Square program) schools are able to draw on the strengths of families who otherwise might see the school as unfriendly. Parent mentors provide instructional support and build trust between schools and community.
The program is also proven: It’s been in play for more than 20 years and has expanded nationwide.
It will make a huge impact. Having more adults able to work with small groups of students will definitely help with academic achievement.” – Angela Sheffey Bogan, principal of Dearborn Park International
We are targeting schools with families who are learning about our school system and, often, are underengaged. The cost-benefit is potentially very good when we think about volunteers impacting a class full of kids, plus their own kids, plus their communities.” – Stephanie Alter Jones, executive director, CPPS of Seattle
You can read more about the Logan Square Parent Mentor Program here. The site includes inspiring background reading on the program and the research that supports it.
OR … listen here to participants in Chicago describe their experience.