AllentownSchool District

Allentown Parent Network Launches

Allentown Parent Network Launches
Posted on 10/29/2018
Almost one year after the release of the District’s Strategic Framework, ASD has prioritized parent and family engagement in a major way.  Once listed as a Strategic Action, the Parent Network was officially launched at the Renaissance Hotel last Saturday, October 20, 2018.

The event, billed as the Family Engagement Summit was attended by more than 100 parents who joined ASD staff, local community leaders, School Board of Directors as well as Superintendent Parker.  Parents were greeted by Senator Pat Browne who spoke to the crowd about family engagement and its impact the 17,000 students in Allentown. 

“Developing a Parent Network has been a vision of mine since joining the Allentown School District,” said Thomas Parker, Superintendent of Allentown School District. “Community partners like Upside Allentown, Promise Neighborhoods and Casa Guadalupe are crucial to the funding and development of what the network will look like and how it supports the goals laid out in the District’s Strategic Framework.” 

To see a motivated group of parents come together with shared values and a common purpose was truly remarkable. The group dispersed for breakout workshops and “funshops” designed to provide attendees with interactive sessions geared towards parents of K-12 students.  Nationally recognized speakers on parent engagement Dr. Diana Gonzales Worthen and Al Lopez shared how they have implemented programs and engaged families in school districts in around the Southwest area. Other sessions provided insight on special education, literacy, and how parents can better connect with schools. 

By the time the group reconvened for lunch, the energy in the room was undeniable. Sharlonda Buckman, founder of the highly successful Detroit Parent Network led a discussion with Yahaira Washington, mother of eight ASD students and graduates, sharing experiences and advice with those in attendance. Ms. Buckman also shared her personal experiences with developing a powerful Parent Network, and connecting parents with one another so they can advocate on behalf of their students. Throughout the course of the day, all sessions were presented in both English and Spanish or had interpreters on hand for individualized translation. 

In the coming weeks, leadership within the Parent Network will take shape, including the creation of committees for programming, fundraising, strategic planning, and an advisory council. The Parent Network will aim to engage families outside of the school buildings to ensure true advocacy and authentic engagement to support our Allentown students. Parents interested in joining the network should contact Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley at 610- 351-4288.

The below questions were collected on Saturday, October 20, 2018 at the first annual family engagement summit during a special Q&A with Superintendent Parker. We received a number of great questions and wanted to provide answers to so that stakeholders can stay informed and engaged with what is going on in our schools, District and community.