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News and Updates

Here are stories from Teaching for Change’s parent organizing. See all Teaching for Change news.

Racial Equity in Your PTO or PTA: What Are You Doing?

Some robust conversations with leaders in PTO Today’s PTO and PTA Leaders & Volunteers Facebook group and an expert on equity in education have pointed toward earnest paths for moving forward with inclusiveness within parent groups. Read more.

DCPS School, Families Continue Monthly Gathering Virtually

Bright smiles, children waving, and parents checking on each other was the introduction to this virtual parent meeting held on April 7, 2020. Principal Nikeysha Jackson and her team recreated a virtual version of our signature Parent-Principal Chat activity as a way for West Education Campus (DCPS) school staff and teachers to check in with one another amidst COVID-19 and the new distant learning practices that has swept schools. Learn more.

Equity and Family Engagement COVID-19 Resources – A Brief List

In a rejection of the term “social distancing,” our colleague, Kwesi Rollins, of the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), recently stated that while we may have to be physically distant during this challenging time, it doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t remain socially connected.  Teaching for Change staff and social justice-minded educators across borders are also mindful that this is not a time to abandon equity as a guiding principle or strategy in our efforts to support students and families. Learn more.

Inclusive Efforts Transform Relationships Between Parent Leaders in Alexandria

December 2019 — Schools across the Washington, D.C., area and nationwide are grappling with issues around gentrification, racism, and classism, not just in the classroom – in family engagement. These forces greatly influence relationship and power dynamics between families, particularly along divisions of race and family income. Read more.

Stories from Teaching for Change Partner Schools 2019-2020

Take a glimpse into how our DCPS partner schools are implementing the Tellin’ Stories approach and signature activities, and read parent perspectives on how they experience family engagement at our schools. Read more.

New Report Recognizes Our Tellin’ Stories Project as “Transformative Family Engagement”

A publication based on the findings from an evaluation of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s (WKKF) Family Engagement cohort was released in July 2019, and features stories and lessons from the Tellin’ Stories Project, Teaching for Change’s nationally recognized approach to family engagement. Learn more.

New Lisa Delpit Book Features Teaching for Change Essay on Engaging Black Parents

October 23, 2019: Allyson Criner Brown, Teaching for Change’s associate director and manager of the Tellin’ Stories parent empowerment project, reflects on family engagement in a moving essay for Teaching When the World Is on Fire, edited by Lisa Delpit (The New Press, 2019). Criner Brown, a former middle school teacher who has led the nationally recognized Tellin’ Stories Project since 2010, writes in her essay “Engaging and Embracing Black Parents”: Looking back on my time in the front of the classroom… Read more.

What Principals Gained from the 2019 Equity and Family Engagement Summer Institutes

Teaching for Change launched its first summer institute focused on principals and school leaders in Washington, D.C., from July 23-25, 2019. Sixteen principals and assistant principals from DC Public Schools (DCPS) and Arlington Public Schools (APS) gathered for the Tellin’ Stories Race, Equity, and Family Engagement Summer Institute for Principals. Read more.

Challenged and Appreciative: Teachers Rethink, Reflect, and Refresh During Summer Institute

From June 25-27, 2019, just days after the school year officially ended, sixteen dedicated educators gathered in Washington, D.C., for the Tellin’ Stories Race, Equity, and Family Engagement Summer Institute for Teachers and Staff. The goal of the summer institute was to teach participants to apply an asset-based lens to family engagement that is grounded in popular education, community organizing, racial equity, and family engagement research. Read more.

‘Tackling Bias in Family Engagement’ Workshop Fills the Room

The attendees began trickling into the room early, and by the time the workshop started, staff were pulling more chairs into the room to seat more than 80 people. The participants were attendees of the 2019 National Family and Community Engagement Conference, hosted by Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) from July 10-12 in Reno, Nevada. Teaching for Change has presented workshops at the conference every year since it began in 2014. Read more.

Imelda Marroquin: After 10+ Years, Fifth Grade Parent Honors School Principal

In June 2019, Imelda took to the stage during the fifth-grade promotion ceremony as her family closed out nearly a decade at Thomson. She approached Teaching for Change parent-organizer Talia Brock with a plan to honor Principal Shepherd during the fifth-grade ceremony. Imelda felt that Principal Shepherd’s leadership and support for parent voice had helped to transform the school, and she wanted to pay homage at the graduation. Read more.

Stories from Teaching for Change Partner Schools 2018-2019

Take a glimpse into how our DCPS partner schools are implementing the Tellin’ Stories approach and signature activities, and read parent perspectives on how they experience family engagement at our schools. Read more.

The Tellin’ Stories Race, Equity, and Family Engagement 2019 National Summer Institutes

The Tellin’ Stories Race, Equity, and Family Engagement Summer Institutes will teach participants to apply an asset-based lens to family engagement that is grounded in popular education, community organizing, racial equity, and family engagement research. The summer institutes are based on the yearlong Tellin’ Stories Race, Equity, and Family Engagement Seminar and draw from research and in-school experience. Read more and apply.

Teaching for Change Featured in Sir Ken Robinson’s New Book on Family Engagement

January 4, 2018: Sir Ken Robinson is the internationally acclaimed educator and author who caught the attention of many with a viral video that illustrated his 2014 TED Talk, “Changing Education Paradigms.” Robinson has continued to write and speak about the challenges and opportunities in education since then, and in 2018 published a new book that focuses on how families can support their children’s success. His latest title with co-author Lou Aronica, You, Your Child, and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best Education (Viking, 2018), features a description of Teaching for Change’s nationally recognized approach to family engagement, called Tellin’ Stories. Read more.

Parents Read Drum Dream Girl for Women’s History Month

March 2018: Roving Readers, one of our Tellin’ Stories signature activities, creates a space for parents of a variety of cultures to come together and read stories in their children’s classrooms. On March 9, at Thomson Elementary School (DCPS), a group of eight parents read to both of the second-grade classes. Read more.

Apply by March 9 to be a Teaching for Change Partner School

The Tellin’ Stories Project of Teaching for Change is pleased to announce an opening for a new school to join the cohort of DC public schools implementing our nationally recognized approach to family engagement. We believe that we can build stronger schools with our parents of color and low-income families than without them…but traditional approaches are not going to work. Read more and apply by March 9, 2018.

How Parent Leadership Improves Student Achievement and Education Equity

January 2018: Teaching for Change’s approach to family engagement, called Tellin’ Stories, will be featured in the January 31, 2018 “Effective Practices Webinar” for the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE).  Tellin’ Stories, a nationally recognized approach to family engagement, draws from community organizing, popular education, racial equity, and best practices in family engagement to build stronger schools with parent power. Read more.

A Meaningful Way to Welcome Parents Back for the New School Year

September 2017: Louise Fall sat quietly and patiently in the Powell Elementary (DCPS) atrium, sitting with the other moms, dads, and caregivers around her. She enjoyed and appreciated a light breakfast – but Louise was really there to learn about her grandson’s upcoming school year so she could take the information back to the rest of the adults in his life. Louise attends most meetings on behalf of her family, and this year’s Welcome Back Breakfast was no exception. Read more.

In Sync with Families: Organizing Your Most Powerful Allies

September 28, 2017: Teaching for Change helps schools create deep connections with parents and caregivers. Those connections invite families to become powerful advocates not only for their own children but also for public education as a whole. Allyson Criner Brown, Teaching for Change associate director and Tellin’ Stories project manager, describes how the project expands traditional models of family engagement in schools. Read more.

Summer Conference Workshops

Wednesday, August 16, 2017: In June 2017, Teaching for Change presented two workshops at the National Family and Community Engagement Conference in San Francisco, Calif in front of crowded audiences. Unpacking Race, Class, Privilege, and Power: Making the Case for Race and Equity Training explored the roots of systemic racism and made modern-day connections to how race, class, and equity issues intersect with family engagement. This session was designed to help administrators make… Read more.

Now More than Ever…Recommitting to Anti-Bias Education

Friday, July 21, 2017: This workshop will validate previous efforts to implement anti-bias education in early childhood classrooms along with inspiring new consideration for the importance of this work.  Participants will share stories, learn the most current understandings of social identities, and gain tools and strategies for responding to the needs and inclusion of all children and families.  Supporting young children in their positive identity development and in learning about differences… Read more.

Race, Class, and Family Engagement Policy Convening

On May 25, 2017, Teaching for Change hosted a policy convening called “Race, Class, and Family Engagement” to nurture dialogue between frontline pre-K through 8 educators and education policymakers and influencers. Educators from our DCPS partner schools shared their strategies for improving family engagement, and recommendations for disrupting racism and classism toward a goal of equity in schools. The policy convening was sponsored by the Communities for Just… Read more.

Parent Perspective: A Principal’s Support for Immigrant Families

March 10, 2017 – Flor Santos* is a regular at the monthly Parent-Principal Chit Chat at her son’s school, Thomson Elementary (DCPS), but this time was especially important. When she stopped by the parent center the previous week, she heard that Principal Carmen Shepherd was going to address parent concerns related to rising anti-immigrant sentiments, ICE raids, and what families should expect from the school (especially during school hours). Read more.

Parent Perspectives: Becoming a Roving Reader

February 8, 2017 – Dinora Arteaga is a familiar face around LaSalle-Backus Education Campus (DCPS), where her son is in first grade. She is known for being soft-spoken and always ready to participate, with her baby girl in tow. Ever the dedicated parent volunteer, Ms. Arteaga stepped up to participate in LaSalle-Backus’s very first Roving Readers Day on February 8, 2017. Read more.

Protecting DC’s Immigrant Students

So, this is happening now, at DC’s public schools: Parents threatened with deportation; Parents late to pick up kids because of immigration officials at their door; Immigration officials visiting metro stations during school drop off and pick up; Student attendance dropping as a result of fear. As you may recall, in February Teaching for Change and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs asked the mayor… Read more.

Sanctuary Schools Resolution in D.C.

In the current political climate in which the President is threatening to increase harassment of immigrants and deportations of undocumented immigrants, we must publicly demonstrate our commitment to all our students and families—especially those without legal documentation. Ask DC Public Schools and local education agencies (LEAs/charter schools) operating within the District of Columbia to stand as sanctuary schools… Read more.

Act Now: Reduce the Weight of Test Scores on D.C. Schools

The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2016 (ESSA) gives states the opportunity to reduce the extreme weight on test scores to rank schools, which was the cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. ESSA allows D.C. to select more meaningful measures of school success, but the current proposal from D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) sets standardized test scores at 80% of a school’s overall rating, with the remaining 20% primarily on attendance and re-enrollment rates. Read more.


How Discrimination Shapes Parent-Teacher Communication

Still, despite widespread recognition that communication from school to home is valuable, most research to date has centered on parents reaching out to educators. With the NYU study, the focus is on the reverse: communication patterns that originate with children’s teachers. Matthew Lynde Chesnut, a social-studies teacher at Kennedy High School, in San Antonio, Texas, confessed surprise at how much the findings “relate to my own shortcomings as a teacher” at a school with a 98 percent Latino student body. Read more.


Post-Election, School Collaborates with Parents to Create Safe Space

The morning after the election, Principal Alethea Bustillo arrived to a school full of distraught staff and worried students. She spent much of the day checking in on every classroom in the building. The public elementary school (DCPS) serves mostly Latino and African American families in one of D.C.’s most racially and economically diverse neighborhoods. Bustillo noted, “What I saw made me really hopeful. The teachers were talking with the kids in a positive way and were allowing the kids to talk about what they were afraid of.” She added that this was in contrast to some schools where students were not allowed to talk about the election at all. Read more.

Between Families and Schools: Creating Meaningful Relationships

Teaching for Change is pleased to announce a new edition of Between Families and Schools: Building Meaningful Relationships. The publication addresses two key questions facing schools today: “How do we get more parents involved in our schools?” and “How do we enhance collaboration and communication between parents and teachers?”Between Families and Schools is based on the findings of an action research project on family engagement, complete with stories, suggested actions, and questions… Read more.


How Marginalized Families Are Pushed Out of PTAs

When Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland, told parents in the fall of 2014 that it would allow students to use Chromebooks as a way to bridge the digital divide between low-income families and affluent families, there were mixed reactions. The plan was aimed at helping students become more adept at using technology, but the affluent parents, most of whom were white, were apprehensive about their children getting more screen time. Continue reading.

(Download PDF of Article)


G is for Gentrification

In Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, public schools that served predominantly low-income students and students of color are seeing massive demographic shifts as wealthier and more formally educated families are attracted to the school neighborhoods. Gentrification can add to the challenges traditionally marginalized families—namely those from Black, Latino, immigrant, and low income communities—face when engaging with schools. Read more.

D.C. Parent Organizing Featured in 2016 AERA Conference Offsite Visits

D.C. Parent Organizing Featured in 2016 AERA Conference Offsite Visits

Teaching for Change partnered twice with local researchers and education organizers to give AERA conference attendees a glimpse of the parent organizing and family engagement work happening locally. Teaching for Change placed family engagement in the broader context of gentrification in D.C. during the AERA offsite session,  “Fighting for the Right to the City.” Read more.


Schools Welcome Parents as Partners with Academic Classroom Visits

Parents are welcomed to the school and receive an overview of what their kids are learning and what they should expect to see when visiting the classroom. After observing a typical lesson, parents are invited to comment on what they notice and ask questions. By giving family members a window into classroom life and an opportunity to offer feedback, Academic Classroom Visits build trust, communication, and shared understanding between families and the school, building partnerships that promote students’ academic achievement. Read more.


How Parent Volunteers Inspired a Young Reader

On the first day of Roving Readers, Brian sat at the back with Ms. Prater as the parents and caregivers took their seats in a long row on the reading carpet. By then his literacy skills were improving, but his interest remained low. He watched as each of the parents opened up copies of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type/Clic Clac Muu Vacas Escritoras and took turns reading in English and in Spanish. He moved from the back of the carpet where we were sitting, all the way up front so he was sitting right at their feet. Read more.

Parent Advocacy Wins Six New After School Positions

Ms. Merino was one of the Latino parents seated at the table on November 24, 2015, for a meeting with the director of DCPS’s Out of School Time Programs, Margareth Legaspi.  Amy Meija, the co-president of the grassroots parents organization Parents and Teachers United for BMPV (PTU), and other parent leaders repeatedly requested a meeting with Ms. Legaspi to address a top concern at their school: the waiting list of 75 students for an understaffed after school program.  Read more.

Parent Organizing in the News

Teaching for Change’s nationally recognized family engagement project, Tellin’ Stories, added new accolades in 2015 with featured stories in Education Week and ThinkProgress.  Read more.

Principal Chit Chats Boost School Success

It was the first Principal Coffee of the year at Thomson, a fourth-year Tellin’ Stories partner school located in downtown Washington, D.C. The monthly coffees are Thomson’s version of Parent-Principal Chit Chats, a signature activity of the Tellin’ Stories approach to family engagement. The chats strengthen the link between home and school, and foster relationship building among parents, and between parents and the principal. Read more.


Early Steps for a Parent Leader

Ms. Rodriguez met with Teaching for Change parent organizers, the parent coordinator, and two other parent leaders – one from the Caribbean and the other from Ethiopia – to plan the upcoming Welcome Back Breakfast for parents. With Teaching for Change’s approach, parent leaders are encouraged to take part in the planning of family engagement activities and not just attend as participants. Ms. Rodriguez was one of the parents who stepped up early in the year, before most activities even began. Read more.


Breaking Barriers of Race, Class, and Language in Schools

On July 22, 2015, Teaching for Change hosted a special event, “Race, Class, and Language: Breaking Barriers to Family Engagement in D.C.,” a briefing over breakfast with community stakeholders about the impact of gentrification and systemic inequities on full parental participation in schools. The event featured case studies from the 2015-2016 school year at school partnering with the Tellin’ Stories Project, Teaching for Change’s nationally recognized approach to family engagement. Read More.


A New Tradition for Families Going to Middle School

On May 29, 2015, breakfast greeted the fifth grade parents at Tyler Elementary (DCPS) a, first-year Tellin’ Stories partner school. The cheerful spread was part of a new tradition the teachers hoped to start for families preparing to make the leap from elementary to middle school: the Fifth Grade Family Promotional Breakfast. Read More.

Thomson Principal Chit Chat

An Outside Perspective on a Tellin’ Stories School

Just after the start of the school day on June 5, 2015 more than 20 parents gathered in the large meeting room to share their triumphs and challenges from the 2014-2015 school year at Thomson Elementary’s (DCPS) final Parent-Principal Chit Chat for the school year. The Chit Chats facilitate community building among the parents and direct communication with the principal, creating an environment where parents feel that their voices are heard and valued.

Teaching for Change’s interns attended the chit-chat, and shared their observations. Read more.


Parents Visit Classrooms at Thomson Elementary School

May 14, 2015 – The parents at Tellin’ Stories third-year partner school Thomson Elementary (DCPS) sat with anticipation for this meeting with the principal. On Friday, May 8, 2015, they gathered in the school cafeteria with Principal Carmen Shepherd and interpreters for a special Parent-Principal Chit Chat.

“We’re going to do class visits today, because that’s something you requested—to see more of what classrooms in action look like,” said Principal Shepherd to the 20 parents in attendance. It was Thomson’s second-ever day for Academic Classroom Visits, a signature activity in the Tellin’ Stories approach to family engagement. Some of the parents present at this meeting attended the first classroom visits in January. Read more.


Orr Parents Take to Radio to Advocate for New Building

May 8, 2015 – “The [condition] of the building doesn’t reflect the community inside the school,” stated Orr Elementary (DCPS) parent Ms. Sirrell Phillips in a radio interview to discuss the pressing need to modernize the building where her youngest child attends pre-Kindergarten.

Phillips and another Orr parent, Mr. Bernard Dickey were featured guests on Taking Action, a weekly radio show hosted by Empower DC on WPFW 89.3FM. The parents and community supporting Orr Elementary, located in Ward 8 in Washington, D.C., have again organized to prevent further delays to a long-promised modernization. Read more.


Victory Stolen from Ward 8 Community: Parents Fight Again for Orr ES Modernization

April 24, 2015 – Orr Elementary School (DCPS) parents in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8 have organized for many years to have the building modernized. Orr, with an almost entirely low-income African American student population, is among the last open floor plan schools in the District. Built in 1974, it has never been modernized.

After a long, parent-led battle, Orr finally got back on the modernization list in 2014. This was a major victory for the community, with an allocation of $39 million to complete the planning and construction ending in fiscal year 2017.

But this week, families were dismayed when they learned the D.C. mayor’s  Capital Plan allocated $0 for Orr’s modernization in FY16 and the schedule for modernization was delayed. Read more.


Twitter Chat on Roving Readers Program

April 22, 2015 – Parent read alouds of multicultural books promote family literacy, bring #ParentsTeachersTogether. Please join Teaching for Change for a discussion of the Roving Readers program on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 9pm EST. The chat, hosted by the Institute for Educational Leadership, will give insights for schools who want to implement this program which brings parents into the classroom to read multicultural books.. Read more.



Participatory Principal Selection Process

March 30, 2015 – Maria squeezed into the packed Parent Center at Bruce Monroe at Park View Elementary School in D.C. on Friday morning. She came to find out how she can be involved in choosing the school’s next principal in an interactive session led by Teaching for Change that brought to life information DCPS shared the previous week via PowerPoint. Read more.


Welcoming Immigrant Students Into the Classroom: A special post by Sara Burnett

January 28, 2015 -According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, there are roughly 1.7 million undocumented students under age 30, who are enrolled in high school, have graduated or obtained a GED, or are currently enrolled in elementary or middle school. Additionally, this past summer our nation witnessed a spike in unaccompanied minors crossing our southern border with more than 50,000 children fleeing persecution from Central America and Mexico. Most of them await immigration court dates while staying with relatives or sponsors, but in the meantime, our laws require that they attend school. In 1982, the Supreme Court determined in Plyer v. Doe that all students, regardless of their immigration status… Read more.


Meyer Foundation Spotlights Teaching for Change’s Storytelling  Efforts

November 1, 2014 -In a recently released report, the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation celebrated efforts by Teaching for Change to expand the impact of our parent engagement work through storytelling. Sharing stories is an integral part of Tellin’ Stories, Teaching for Change’s parent engagement approach, but it had not been a core piece of the organization’s communications strategy. Read more.


Victory in Ward 8: Orr Parents Organize for New Building and New Leadership

October 15, 2014 – Laila Patrick held her breath in anticipation, waiting to hear her name called as her two children played on the floor nearby. Ms. Patrick sat with her muscles tensed, at the edge of her seat, with her mother supportively sitting in the chair beside her. “She’s talking about me!” Ms. Patrick whispered to her mother as the event host shared the story of her role in the parent activism that earned her children’s school two major victories last school year – funding for a new building, and new leadership for the school. As her name was called, Ms. Patrick proudly stood up and walked down the red carpet to be recognized as both her mom and her children watched, beaming with pride and adoration. Read more.


Making Parents and Grandparents Feel Welcomed at a New School

October 6, 2014 – Grandparents Jaime and Lorenza Vargas* sat among the 85 parents and guardians who flooded into the cafeteria of Brightwood Education Campus (DCPS) for the first Parent-Principal Chit Chat of the year on September 26, 2014. The Vargas family has two grandchildren in grades 5 and 7 who had arrived in the United States from the Mexican border just weeks prior and did not speak English. Read more.


Family Partner Series Offers D.C. Schools a Fresh Start on Family Engagement

September 26, 2014 – This year, bilingual school counselor Senovia Hurtado has been entrusted with the mission of revitalizing family engagement at Brightwood Education Campus (DCPS), a pre-K through eighth grade school in Washington, D.C. It’s her 15th year in DC Public Schools, but her first as a parent coordinator. With a reopened parent center, a supportive principal and colleagues, and a partnership with Teaching for Change, Hurtado is poised to make Brightwood a school that is open and inviting to parents. Read more.


Principal Meeting Launches Tellin’ Stories Family Partners Series

August 12, 2014 – “Of the many hats I wear, one of those hats is that of the community organizer,” shared Thomson Elementary Principal Carmen Shepherd. “As principals, we are really here to serve and work with families.” On July 30, 2014, Ms. Shepherd, principal of Thomson Elementary (DCPS), joined principals from six other DCPS schools and one Prince George’s County elementary school for a meeting to launch theTellin’ Stories Family Partners Series. Thomson ES hosted the meeting, which was the second of two principal orientations for the eight schools participating in the Family Partners Series. Read more.


D.C. Area Schools Selected for Family Partners

June 9, 2014 – Teaching for Change is pleased to announce that six public schools from Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, Md. were selected to participate in the Tellin’ Stories Family Partners Series for the 2014–2015 school year. Supported by a three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, this unique professional development and parent leadership series will work with a total of eight school communities to develop meaningful family engagement strategies. Read more.


Teaching for Change Stands with Orr Elementary Parents

June 7, 2014 – Teaching for Change fully supports Orr Elementary (DCPS) parents who demand a new principal after months of raising concerns through formal and informal channels. Despite their efforts to advocate on behalf of the whole school, DCPS is actively discouraging parent engagement at a school serving predominantly black and low-income families. Read more.


Update: Victory in Sight for Orr Elementary

May 15, 2014 – There are signs posted on the door to Orr Elementary (DCPS) announcing “$39 million for Orr’s Modernization!” Parents and community members are proud that their advocacy efforts led officials to restore funding for their school’s modernization to the 2014-2015 D.C. budget. Read more.


Does Family Engagement Matter? A special post by Anne T. Henderson, Karen L. Mapp, and Nancy E. Hill

May 15, 2014 – Does parent involvement make a difference in children’s learning? In a new study, The Broken Compass, sociologists Keith Robinson and Angel Harris argue that when parents attempt to help, they have little impact on, and may even harm, their children’s grades and test scores. Their conclusion is, at best, only half right. Read more.


The Shapes that Shape Our Lives

May 5, 2014 – A spaceship representing the United States and El Salvador. The church from a small pueblo (village). The “Birthday Party Express” bus. These are a few of the family projects proudly on display in the hallways of Thomson Elementary (DCPS) this spring. Read more.


Tellin’ Stories Family Partners Series

May 1, 2014 – With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Teaching for Change is launching a new and unprecedented training series for D.C.-area elementary schools to develop meaningful family engagement strategies for their school communities. Read more.


Teaching for Change Among National Recipients of Kellogg Foundation Family Engagement Awards

April 24, 2014 – Just days after Teaching for Change presented a workshop at the first National Family Engagement Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation recognized Teaching for Change as one of 30 “exceptional organizations” to receive a grant for its new family engagement initiative. Read more.


Teaching the Teachers: Training Staff to Engage with Families

April 24, 2014 – On Tuesday, April 8, Teaching for Change presented a highly regarded workshop at the National Family Engagement Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. The workshop was based on Teaching for Change’s approach to family engagement, called Tellin’ Stories, and the organization’s experience working in schools and leading trainings for teachers, parent leaders, and family engagement practitioners. Read more.


Parents Tell Councilmember Catania: Our Children Deserve Classrooms

March 19, 2014 – Orr (DCPS) parents invited David Catania, Councilmember and chair of the Education Committee, to hear their stories and tour the building which badly needs modernization. Nearly 30 parents attended with their children, along with teachers and members of the local community. Parents expressed their concerns about the safety of the playground; stagnant air and poor natural lighting; places where the building is crumbling; and, most significantly, the open floor plan (in which there are no walls separating classrooms or hallways). The modernization was slated to begin eight years ago but has been delayed every year since. Read more.


No Place to Hide: Orr Elementary Needs Modernization Now!

March 6, 2014 – Isaiah Lyles was shocked as he watched his daughter Da’Vonna and her pre-Kindergarten classmates attempt to hide in plain sight from an “active shooter” during a safety drill. This day in January, Orr Elementary (DCPS) was among the schools participating in a safety assessment after the anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Orr, which was built in the 1970s, has an open floor plan, so there are no walls in the halls or separating classrooms. Read more.


Parents and Teachers Swap Stories About What Children Can Do

February 20, 2014 – Maria Lopez* listened intently as the interpreter shared the meeting with her in Spanish. The mother of a student who loves to read, Maria came to the 3rd grade’s parent-teacher Grade Level Dialogues to find out more about what her daughter is learning in the classroom. Read more.


Parent Organizer América Calderón Wins Mayor’s Award

October 11, 2013 – We are thrilled to announce that América Calderón, Teaching for Change senior parent organizer, won the “Dedication Award” for her work with families in schools from the D.C. Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs. She received the award on October 17, 2013 at a special event at the GALA Theater. Read more.


Welcoming Parents for a Successful School Year

September 11, 2013 – In its fourth year as a Teaching for Change partner school, Orr Elementary [DCPS] is no stranger to the Welcome Back Breakfast. But with a brand new principal—and a visit from First Lady Michelle Obama, Shaquille O’Neal, Dominique Dawes, and Allyson Felix as part of the national “Let’s Move” program—their 2013-2014 school year is already off to a unique start. Read More.


Community Walks Featured as “High-Touch” Strategy in Education Leadership Journal

July 1, 2013 – In an article for ASCD’s Education Leadership, noted family engagement expert and author of Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships, Anne Henderson, challenges school leaders to build strong relationships with their families over the summer months by planning a Community Walk, a signature activity pioneered by the Tellin’ Stories Project of Teaching for Change. Read More.

A Principal’s Reflection on Parent Engagement

June 12, 2013 – After nine years at Orr Elementary (DCPS) in Washington, D.C.’s historic Fairlawn neighborhood, principal Michelle Edwards has retired to forge a new path in her career. Three years ago, Mrs. Edwards invited the Tellin’ Stories Project of Teaching for Change to partner with Orr Elementary and develop a comprehensive family engagement program. She worked closely with Teaching for Change’s parent organizers and Orr’s staff, teachers, and parents to build a welcoming, inclusive school climate at Orr that supports student learning and meaningful parent engagement. Mrs. Edwards will truly be missed at Orr Elementary. Read More.


The Secrets to Better Parent Meetings

February 1, 2013 – The cornerstone of an effective parent engagement strategy is building relationships between parents, teachers, and administrators—but schools are becoming increasingly aware that traditional conferences and meetings with parents are not exactly engaging. “How to Have Better Parent Meetings,” Teaching for Change’s third Cross-City Parent Coordinator Training of the school year, detailed the essentials for a successful parent meeting. Twenty local parent coordinators, parent leaders, and community and parent outreach coordinators from the DC Public Schools’ Head Start office gathered January 25 at the American Federation of Teachers… Read More.


How to Build a Better Parent-Teacher Night

December 14, 2012 – For many schools, parent-teacher conferences, back-to-school night, and report card day are the only attempts to bring parents and teachers together. Typically, these meetings do little to foster sustainable parental engagement and sometimes the format even hinders meaningful collaboration.Teaching for Change’s Tellin’ Stories initiative offers a powerful alternative with its signature activity, parent-teacher grade level dialogues. Grade level dialogues are structured conversations between parents and teachers regarding students’ academic success. Read More.


Teaching for Change Pioneers Latino Parent Leadership Training in D.C.

September 22, 2012 – In Washington, D.C. and in cities across the country, cultural and language barriers present some of the biggest challenges  to building effective home-school partnerships. Teaching for Change’s parent empowerment initiative has a few methods for overcoming this stumbling block: providing translation services for parent meetings, recruiting multilingual parent leaders, and promoting cultural understanding through community building and professional development are among them. Read More.

Working Together: Parents and Principal Start the Year with a Critical Dialogue

September 17, 2012 – In a promising start to the 2012-2013 school year, parents at Strong John Thomson Elementary (D.C. Public Schools) convened for the first of many discussions with Principal Carmen Shepherd. Just after the start of the school day on September 7, about 30 parents—a few with toddlers or infants in tow—gathered in the large meeting room for the first Principal Coffee & Chat of the year. The hour long monthly meetings over light breakfast were… Read More.


Parent Spotlight: Anai Crespo

August 29 -2012 – Anai Crespo is a mother at Thomson Elementary who embodies the outcomes we want to see in our parents. She is Mexican, speaks only Spanish, and has three children at the school in pre-K, third, and fifth grades. She was among the parents who felt marginalized by the school and administration in previous years. Last fall, however, Anai attended our story quilting sessions and emerged as one of the parents willing to do more if given a chance… Read more.

Teachers Connect with Families, Neighborhood During Community Walks

August 27, 2012 – On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, parents at Thomson Elementary School (DCPS) led teachers and administrators on a Community Walk through the neighborhood in which many of the families live. More than 60 teachers, parents, and students visited local landmarks and the buildings that many of the school’s Latino families call home. As the group from Thomson progressed through the neighborhood, other parents and kids… Read More.

Teaching for Change Offers Dynamic Training for DCPS Head Start

August 7, 2012 – How could this training be improved? “More of it.” Role playing, strategy games, storytelling, and interviews were just some of the activities in store for D.C. Public Schools’ Community and Parent Outreach Coordinators (CPOCs) for Head Start. “Thank you!” and “I enjoyed it!” were among the comments the CPOCs shared at the end, but they were not at summer camp. They were participants in an interactive training facilitated by the Tellin’ Stories Project of Teaching for Change. Read more.

Tellin’ Stories Evaluation Shows Promising Early Results

April 19, 2012 -“Tellin’ Stories activities encourage parents to voice and work proactively, often jointly with school staff, to address their concerns,” concluded Policy Studies Associates, the firm conducting the evaluation of Teaching for Change’s parent engagement initiative, in a preliminary report this spring. Teaching for Change’s Tellin’ Stories Project has been recognized by the Harvard Family Research Project as one of the most effective approaches in the country for breaking barriers to school engagement for… Read more.

Bringing Parents Back to the Table

April 18, 2012 – “I feel more confident because of the Tellin’ Stories meetings – I can approach the principal and the teachers… What I didn’t do when my other children were in school, I’m doing now,” says Olga Salazar, a parent from Thomson Elementary (DCPS) in Washington, DC. Using Teaching for Change’s unique approach to family engagement, Thomson has seen more parents participating this year than in recent memory. Parents volunteer in the classrooms, meet regularly with the principal to discuss academics, assist with meals, help in the library, and… Read more.

Turning the Tables on Parent-Teacher Meetings

Dec. 29, 2011 – On a chilly, rainy Wednesday evening in October, more than 50 parents filled the Orr Elementary School library in Southeast Washington, D.C. to have an open dialogue with their children’s teachers about academics and expectations. The premise was simple: bring parents and teachers together to learn from each other and discuss strategies to support student learning at home and in the classroom. The event was a Grade Level Dialogue, a tool from the Tellin’ Stories Project, Teaching for Change’s nationally recognized approach to meaningful family-school engagement. Over the course of two days, nearly 100 parents attended dialogues… Read more.

Tellin’ Stories Receives Grants for Professional Evaluation

“[Teaching for Change] did not just increase the numbers of parents involved – it literally changed the face of who we saw coming in the door and advocating for their children.” – Michelle Molitor, E.L. Haynes Principal

October 4, 2011 – Teaching for Change’s Tellin’ Stories Project has been recognized by the Harvard Family Research Project as one of the most effective approaches in the country for breaking barriers to school engagement for traditionally marginalized parents. Recently, Teaching for Change received grants to support a professional evaluation of the Tellin’ Stories approach from the Cafritz Foundation, the Flamboyan Foundation, and an anonymous foundation interested in bringing our approach to building parent power and family engagement to the forefront of education policy and practices. Read more and view the Tellin’ Stories documentation report.

Missouri Teachers’ Overwhelming Response to Family Engagement Training

September 30, 2011 – Teaching for Change parent organizers América Calderón and Jhonna Turner traveled to St. Louis, Missouri in September to conduct a professional development session for more than 70 teachers of English Language Learner (ELL) students. Invited by the St. Louis Regional Professional Development Center of Cooperating School Districts, Calderón and Turner presented a full day workshop titled “Beyond International Night: Taking Parent Involvement to a Higher Level” to a packed room of educators from schools throughout Missouri. Read more.