Northern Michigan University education assistant professor Kristen White is among collaborators from 10 partner universities and K12s—including Marquette Area Public Schools—to receive an award from the National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) to participate in its Family Engagement Educator Preparation Innovation Project. Only nine collaboratives were selected from a nationwide pool of 76 proposals to receive grants totaling more than $150,000.
The nine collaboratives will implement select components of the Educator Preparation Framework for Family and Community Partnerships, released by NAFSCE in December 2022, and engage in a learning community through June 2023. The grants will incubate new ideas, uncover how the framework sparks innovation to prepare educators for family and community engagement in diverse communities, and create a platform to share and disseminate ideas and knowledge.
White's group will focus on “systems change.” Her collaborators include representatives from Michigan State University, Ball State University, the University of Southern Maine and Bowie State University, along with Lansing, Marquette, Muncie, South Portland and Prince George's public schools.
“One of the strengths of this project is that educators across the U.S. and in various contexts—for example, urban, suburban and rural—will have an opportunity to read and discuss scenarios for problem-solving with caretakers and families,” White said. “Participants will choose the issues they are currently grappling with. For example, some topics include families with incarcerated caregivers, caregivers of students who have suffered trauma, and connecting caregivers with community resources.”
White said a desired outcome of the study is to seek practices that professional teacher preparation programs can implement to enhance collaborating teachers' competencies in mentoring pre-service teachers in family and community engagement.
“NMU's participation in the project will help the School of Education, Leadership and Public Service to facilitate how collaborating teachers think about and approach working with culturally and linguistically diverse families,” she added. “The study's results will impact how educators, families, caretakers and local businesses establish and strengthen relationships to support the social and academic development of children and youth.”
The Educator Preparation Framework was developed by NAFSCE in partnership with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, MAEC, the National Education Association and the Family Engagement Consortium on Educator Preparation.
"Engaging families in their children's learning is the most comprehensive, cost-effective and culturally responsive way to enhance student learning and build strong communities,” stated the NAFSCE website in explaining the impetus for the framework. “But we can't assume that educators have had opportunities to learn the practice of family and community engagement and that they will automatically build relationships with families without training and support. Ensuring that educators are equipped to Reflect, Connect, Collaborate, and Lead with Families requires intentional preparation.”
Find more information on NMU's School of Education academic programs here.