Owning Our Movement, Maximizing Our Impact
On June 20-22, 2016, IEL hosted the 3rd National Family and Community Engagement Conference. The event attracted over 1,200 participants to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the biggest FCE convening to date. Participants included parents, educators, community partners, and district leaders from every state (and three countries) demonstrating the breadth and depth of our movement. The conference was successful in cultivating relationships, empowering parents and educators alike, and sharing best practices between participants.
The event kicked off with ParentCamp- a free ‘un-conference’ opportunity promoting discussion between parents and educators. Local families and visiting conference attendees hosted meaningful conversations on topics of their own choosing. Big shout out to all the dads who spent their Fathers’ Day focused on improving engagement to benefit their children and families!
“Great conversations…When we are talking and listening to each other, anything and everything is possible!”
While the restaurants of Pittsburgh began to fill up with family and community engagement enthusiasts from across the nation, district leaders representing over 70 school districts met for a dinner meeting. The packed room was abuzz with discussion aiming to increase the network’s systemic capacity by deepening common understanding of frameworks for effective engagement.
Monday morning started bright and early with a popular pre-conference session on Community School and Family Engagement and the inspiring Breathing Joy and Justice session. For those seeking to explore the local work, participants piled on to school buses for transportation to Pittsburgh site visits. Four local schools and community-based organizations, each with a different focus, demonstrated their high quality family engagement strategies.
“Site hosts were delightful-proud, helpful and willing to share!! Tour was great to get sense of neighborhood.”
Plenaries, Mini-Plenaries and Workshops
Leaders in the field presented engaging plenaries which featured outstanding speakers such as Michele Brooks, president of Transformative Solutions in Education; William Mendoza, director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education; Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania secretary of education, and Dr. John Jackson, president and CEO of The Schott Foundation for Public Education. Nine mini-plenaries highlighted essential themes drawing excited participants to presentations featuring ESSA policy briefs, new parent organizing network debuts, and cutting edge research on early learning among others.
Over the next two days, participants experienced in-depth learning opportunities through 80 workshops addressing systemic solutions across eight key strands. Aided by the mobile app and helpful volunteers, four break-out sessions gave attendees access to top quality presenters. Resources from these presentations are available online as are pictures and tweets from the event. Friendships, professional partnerships, and memories were forged at two networking receptions. Local entertainment and views of the Allegheny River provided an enjoyable and energizing backdrop to the jam-packed days. As one participant gushed, “My intellect was ignited, my zeal renewed and I made new supportive contacts.”
The fun doesn’t stop!
View resources from the conference here and media memories here. Join the FCE Network for announcements about next year’s conference taking place in San Francisco, CA, June 22-24, 2017.