Over the past five years, Hiawatha Academies has embarked on a journey to engage families as partners in the work to close the opportunity gap. This year, the network took further steps into this journey by enhancing its Family Academy to include topic areas differentiated by grade levels, engaging families in equity working groups, and growing the Academic Parent Teacher Team model to include the middle school, HCP-Kingfield.
In October, each of our elementary schools, Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Morris Park and Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop engaged parents on how to support their children’s literacy growth at home. Additionally, during our first Family Academy sessions, Andy Paulson, School Psychologist presented on children’s brain development, the impact of stress and tips for promoting mental and emotional well-being at each schools session. Jen Swenson, Early College Seminar Teacher, presented on steps parents can take now to support college readiness at Hiawatha Collegiate High School, and Hiawatha College Prep-Kingfield families were provided workshops through a partnership with CLUES on how to talk to their children about health and sexuality. All of these information sessions provide families and teachers with the opportunity to learn from each other on how to best support scholars in their learning and social and emotional development. All of these activities have been instrumental in building social capitol among families and provided them with resources, information and tools to become stronger advocates for their scholars. In the word of a parent who attended a Family Academy session, “All people can make a change for the better. It has to start with us.”