Could Manny’s Book Club result in better Fayette County Public Schools?
Periodically, Superintendent Manny Caulk encourages families, students, staff and citizens to read a particular book, then attend his book club meetings where the conversation centers on school improvement.
On Tuesday night at the Lexington Public Library’s Eastside branch, parents, school administrators, interested citizens, educators and two school board members came to discuss “Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships” as it related to Fayette County schools and how schools can link families to learning.
A focus of the “bake sale” book is strengthening the partnership between home and schools and how families can become involved with schools beyond fundraising. One premise is that the more involved that families are, the better students fare in school.
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Manny’s Book Club is among the tools Caulk has introduced since he was hired as superintendent in 2015 to get more people involved in schools. The book club is one way, he said, “for the community to join me in a conversation about our most important endeavor, which is ensuring that all of our children have a pathway to success.”
“Everywhere I’ve gone and led … I’ve always had a superintendent’s book club because what is central to ensuring a great future … is investing in our children,” Caulk told the Herald-Leader.
As a starting point on Tuesday, Caulk gave the group facts they might not know about Fayette County students. Some of the statistics were positive, but the data also included that in the 2015-16 school year, three in 100 students were homeless, five in 100 students had been incarcerated and 15 in 100 students did not graduate in four years.
Given that data, the group discussed how schools can involve all families to reach higher achievement for all students. The book said it can start with family-friendly signs posted on school walls, with staffs that are accessible to families, with small events at schools for families, and asking families to share power at schools by joining committees.
After reading the book recently, Locust Trace AgriScience Center principal Anne DeMott created a panel to explore how that Lexington career and technical high school can make families more welcome.
DeMott said the new panel at Locust Trace could meet for the first time in February, inviting parents and students who want to be involved along with teachers “to gather some ideas about what we can do for the next school year to open our doors and make our families feel welcome.”
Concerning the discussion Tuesday night, parent Sally Smith said she learned “that there are tools and technology that can keep me more connected with what’s going on as far as the curriculum that my child is responsible for and what needs to be done. It confirmed my belief that the more involved I am with teachers, the better job they can do.”