Strong collaboration between parents and educators is not just important for their child’s academic success but also empowers parents to have a voice in decisions impacting the whole school, especially at Community Schools where shared decision-making is a cornerstone of the model.

Educators at Bertrand Avenue Elementary Community School started the Parent Leadership Academy, an innovative new program designed to strengthen parent engagement.

Bertrand Community School Coordinator Iris Moya-O’Dell and Community School Representative Alejandra Hernandez created the five-week program to build parents’ understanding of the Community School model and leadership skills through a series of interactive sessions and workshops.

“Parent Leadership Academy is important because we give them the tools and guidance to not only be the voice for their kids but also for our community,” says Hernandez. “We look forward to continuing this program and also growing it.”

The impact will snowball as the first cohort’s eleven parents will continue to meet monthly to recruit more Bertrand Avenue Elementary parents to the program and identify opportunities to uplift parent voices.

“Parents don’t realize that they are actually the heart of the school,” says Moya-O’Dell. “We are the workers behind it, but without them our kids wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t feel supported, and we wouldn’t have the things that we essentially need.”

Programs like Bertrand’s Parent Leadership Academy are a testament to the transformative role of the Community Schools model and to parents’ crucial part in ensuring equity in public education.