Burrell School District leaders want students and parents to join teachers and administrators for the Fall Fireside Chats this month, part of an effort to increase engagement among teachers, administrators, families, and the community.
"Our goal is to reconnect with our families, build trust and strengthen relationships," said Dr. Autumn Turk, the district's Director of Curriculum & Development.
The Fall Fireside Chats are scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27, at Burrell High School from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event, the first official activity hosted by Burrell's Parents as Allies group, will be held in the student lot across from the school stadium.
Parents are invited to bring their children to the chats and are asked to RSVP by Oct. 17 at this link.
The goal of Parents as Allies, a program offered in partnership with the Pittsburgh-based Kidsburgh, is to help local school districts improve family engagement. Kidsburgh is an initiative that serves local families and caregivers with deliberate goals: to help them discover the many resources for children in the region and offer solid reporting and expert advice about the challenges of raising healthy, thriving children.
Burrell's Fall Fireside Chats will feature fall-themed refreshments for the first half-hour, then attendees will break into smaller groups for the chats, which will be about an hour long. There will be separate chats for middle school students, high school students, and parents/guardians. Younger elementary-aged students will enjoy a series of fun fall activities planned while others are participating in the chats, including singing campfire songs, decorating pumpkins, and playing games.
Parents will lead each fireside chat as Allies team members or Burrell district staff. After the groups conclude their hour-long chats, everyone will gather to spend some time together.
This is the latest in a series of initiatives undertaken by Burrell leaders to enhance engagement among educators, students, parents, and the community. District leaders and educators participated in the spring Community Coffee Talks, hosted empathy interviews with teachers and parents, and conducted surveys of families and staff to understand more about their beliefs and perceptions of school.
"We are using the coffee talks, empathy interviews, and survey feedback to inform our planning for future events based on the needs of our stakeholders," Turk said.
District leaders and parents also attended the Parents as Allies team kick-off event in April, the Design Team Showcase in July, and the monthly team check-ins as part of the Parents as Allies team professional learning process hosted by Kidsburgh. "It was a great opportunity to network with other schools, learn about what they are doing to increase family engagement, and apply what we are learning into our own planning," Turk said.
The Burrell district's Parents as Allies design team is led by co-chairs Turk and Twaina Williams, a district parent. Committee members include teacher Adam Rossi, parent Tamika Buchak, parent and teacher Vicki Quinn, and parent and teacher Jen Baxter-Blubaugh.