In Blog, Communities of Practice, Featured, News

Who’s leading this year’s DCSC Communities of Practice? As we gear up for back-to-school, we’ll be spotlighting conversations with each facilitator. Enjoy this second edition of our 5-part series on each group’s facilitator(s)! In case you missed it, you can also check out Part 1!

Meet the facilitator!

Integrated schools include communities of parents, caregivers, and families across lines of race and class. Deb Hanmer will lead a Community of Practice of both practitioners and parents of DCSC member school communities with the goal of building bridges and sharing power to better support a diverse student and parent population. This is the first Community of Practice in DCSC history that invites parents from a member’s community to join. We appreciate hearing Deb share her perspectives on how schools can actualize inclusive parent and community engagement.

Deb Hanmer, MPA, M.Ed.; Founder/CEO of Breakthrough Leadership Consulting and Initiative Director of Greater Rochester Parent Leadership Training Institute

Why should schools prioritize empowering parents? Why now?

We can’t ignore the power and privilege dynamics in how school staff interact with parents and families. I see parental empowerment as the idea of fostering authentic relationships, valuing the strengths and assets of our students’ caregivers, and designing structures to implement real power-sharing. This topic goes beyond the superficial. I have seen visions of “family friendly” DEI indicators with surface-level checks, such as culturally responsive pictures on a classroom wall. Below the surface, we can reimagine the key processes of parent-teacher collaboration. Including parents as CoP participants isn’t just a cute add-on for us, but rather, a priority to offer open communication and develop strong ideas. We’re not just checking a box; we’re co-learning and making changes with and not to groups of families whose voices have traditionally been excluded. Families of color and of lesser resources can offer the most insightful perspectives on how we can make schools more inclusive for everyone.

What do you hope to gain from working with DCSC members?

I love that this Coalition includes school communities that vary in their demographic composition, organizational histories, and unique spaces. Parental empowerment can’t be accomplished with a one-size-fits-all approach, so I look forward to creating a Parental Empowerment Toolkit with DCSC members that offers flexible tools and a lens of inclusion and belonging across community differences. We’ll be able to ideate, role play, and develop specific case studies alongside research, so that practitioners and parents alike can wield this resource to evolve their school culture.

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