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PGCPS Makes Family Engagement Top PriorityFamily Institute to Launch Sept. 10 with Conference Featuring Marian Wright Edelman, Hill Harper

Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is focusing on family in a big way this year.

The new PGCPS Family Institute aims to enhance the role of parents and families in the educational process, starting with a free conference Sept. 10 featuring Children’s Defense Fund founder/president Marian Wright Edelman and actor/best-selling author Hill Harper.

The inaugural conference is one of many system-wide events and activities this year that will focus on the importance of families in strengthening school communities.

With more than 200 schools and nearly 128,000 students, Prince George’s County Public Schools has many moving parts. Busy parents may not have time for traditional school volunteer activities or they may not know how to build on classroom lessons at home. Family Institute is designed to make that job easier with free workshops and sessions, monthly parent tips, translation and interpretation services among other programs.

“This is our way of telling parents that we need and want them to support their child’s education and showing them how we can all work together,” said Dr. Kevin Maxwell, PGCPS Chief Executive Officer. “What we as educators and parents do today matters for a child’s future.”

Research shows that schools systems with successful parental engagement have higher student achievement levels, lower dropout rates and better behavior and social indicators. Students whose parents are involved in their education tend to have a more positive outlook on learning and their own abilities.

“Our goal is to equip our parents and community with the tools needed to be children’s first teachers,” said Dr. Segun Eubanks, Prince George’s County Board of Education. “Family Institute is long overdue.”

The school system’s past efforts to create structured supports for family and community engagement often fell short. Two years ago, in collaboration with the Prince George’s County Board of Education, Dr. Maxwell created the Department of Family and Community Engagement (DFCE) to improve that work. DFCE is charged with developing and implementing innovative strategies to increase stakeholder capacity in children’s best interests.

Similar to parent academies in other school districts, Family Institute will serve as a guide to resources for student learning under the theme “Growing Together,” anchored by an annual conference.

Sessions will be categorized as follows:

Family Empowerment — Supports participants’ personal and professional goals, focusing on child development, effective parenting practices, parent leadership and advocacy.

Family Empowerment — Supports participants’ personal and professional goals, focusing on child development, effective parenting practices, parent leadership and advocacy.

21st Century Learning — Fosters in-depth understanding of curriculum, assessments, academic supports, policies and procedures.

21st Century Learning — Fosters in-depth understanding of curriculum, assessments, academic supports, policies and procedures.

Health and Wellness — Develops health habits that promote success, emphasizing physical, social and emotional well-being.

Health and Wellness — Develops health habits that promote success, emphasizing physical, social and emotional well-being.

PGCPS Connects — Aim to equip PGCPS staff with best practices in family and community engagement.

PGCPS Connects — Aim to equip PGCPS staff with best practices in family and community engagement.

Upcoming plans include a community book read and “read aloud” mentoring program to support the school system’s focus on literacy.

Space is filling up fast for the first conference, which is expected to draw several hundred people to Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale. Conference topics will include parent advocacy, college and career preparation, social media, healthy living and finding the right school and specialty programs, support services and resources. Edelman and Harper will deliver remarks separately.

School system officials hope the conference sets the tone for the year.

“We want to improve collaboration between families, schools and the larger community,” Maxwell said. “There’s a shared responsibility for student success and everyone plays a role.”

For more information, visit pgcpsfamily.org, call 301-618-7356 or email family.institute@pgcps.org.

For more information, visit pgcpsfamily.org, call 301-618-7356 or email family.institute@pgcps.org.

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