New York City

OPINION: Building stronger school communities

August 27, 2015 By NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Education.

As chancellor, I love talking to our students and parents at community meetings, forums, town halls and even in the grocery store — and I hear the same message time and again: every parent wants to see their child graduate ready to conquer the world and every child wants to follow their dreams and achieve. I took this job specifically to make success a reality for every child and every family across New York City.

This summer, superintendents, principals, teachers and central staff have been working tirelessly to ensure that students and families begin the school year with necessary supports and services so parents can help their student both inside and outside the classroom. I’m excited to bring on new leadership to bring my vision to fruition — a veteran Bronx educator, Yolanda Torres, who will serve as executive superintendent of the Division of Family and Community Engagement (FACE).

As superintendent, Yolanda hosted parent meetings, expanded training opportunities for parent leaders and got parents who hadn’t typically been involved — involved. As a former public school parent, teacher, principal, I know she gets it. We both agree: an engaged and informed parent community is necessary to improve student outcomes.

Yolanda will build on the family engagement work done so far to build even stronger family-community ties through an emphasis on training and professional development, outreach and engagement, and parent leadership. Regardless of the language a parent speaks at home, he or she can play a critical role in our school system and to their child’s education. In fact, celebrating your family heritage and language at home is a great family activity. We must create more welcoming environments for all families and develop stronger relationships between schools and their communities, and we will do this together. 

I want to hear from you — what can we do to better serve you and your family?  In response to parent feedback, some schools have started offering more English classes and providing GED classes. Other schools have cooking classes and Zumba to ensure our bodies and minds stay healthy.

Pencil in your September parent conference now: Sept.17 (elementary schools), Sept. 16 (middle schools) and Sept. 30 (high schools). I urge every New York City school parent to participate and meet with teachers, learn about the curriculum, upcoming events and get involved in their child’s learning. 

Together, we will achieve greatness. We will build stronger family-community ties and this will lead to improved student outcomes. When families feel welcomed and encouraged to play an active role in their child’s academic work, our students do better. We all do better. Together, we will make New York City the best urban school district in the nation. 

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