Parent John Dobson on Saturday said he came to Fayette County Schools’ new program called Family University to hear the superintendent’s ideas and to learn from others’ struggles and success.
Dobson said he wasn’t disappointed as he joined about 150 family members and people in the community at the Newtown campus of Bluegrass Community and Technical College for sessions on student success, test scores and building partnerships in the school district.
“What brought me here today was to listen to the superintendent talk about his vision, to join with the community to hear what they were saying about education,” Dobson said. “I’m sitting with a group of people who I’ve never seen before, never met before, don’t know anything about their culture. I’m getting to understand what they consider important. They get to listen to see what I consider important.”
Dobson said he’s also trying to find out about opportunities his daughters are being offered at Northern Elementary. He’s encouraged they are learning music and have been exposed to plays where they are learning to speak in public.
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The idea behind Family University is helping families understand more about the school district and their child’s learning, empowering parents and working with them, said Miranda Scully, Fayette County District Coordinator for Family and Community Engagement.
Family University is an initiative by Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk to improve student achievement in the district.
“Families are our partners,” Caulk told the ethnically and racially diverse crowd gathered Saturday. “We can’t do this work without you. You are your child’s first teacher.”
Moreover, Caulk said, “It takes an entire community to ensure success for each and every student.”
Activities for children and language interpreters were available Saturday.
“When families and schools work together, our students are more engaged and more successful. Anything that we can do to invite families in, engage them in conversations about student achievement and get them excited about advocating for their students in school, that’s only going to benefit our kids,” district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said.
Sessions will continue throughout the year, Scully said. On Saturday’s agenda, in addition to Caulk speaking, was a district official who works with testing and leaders of the 16th District PTA, which includes Fayette County.
Family University will provide classes, workshops and other events that familiarize people not only with the schools, but also with community resources, an article about the program on the district’s website said. Family University will also help families as their children move from elementary to middle to high school, and on to postsecondary schools.