Alverno School of Education Connects Parents & Educators to Improve Educational Outcomes

Study after study has shown that students whose parents are engaged with the educational process attend school regularly, receive better grades and graduate, and continue their education beyond high school. But many parents aren’t sure how to become involved with their child’s education, and many schools are frankly unsure or unaware of how to effectively integrate parents. The result? Concerned educators in one corner, caring parents in another and a swamp of missed opportunities in the middle.

The October 23rd Alverno Forum, Engaging Parents as True Partners in Education, promises to arm both educators and parents with strategies they can use to effectively work together to improve education.

Sponsored by Alverno’s School of Education, Engaging Parents is the first of this year’s Alverno Forums, community events designed to increase awareness and knowledge of issues that affect the greater Milwaukee community. Alverno Forums engage diverse voices in conversation on complex topics.

Engaging Parents as True Partners in Education will feature a panel of “teachers, practitioners and parents who have worked out techniques that have been successful in increasing parent involvement,” says Patricia Luebke, assistant professor of Education. The October 23, 2013, event, which is free and open to the public, will also feature an interactive component.

“We’re inviting audience members to submit questions to the panel in advance via Twitter,” Luebke says.  “We want our forum to be really focused on the needs and interests of our audience and community, so we’re going to have our panelists discuss questions that have been submitted.”

Parents, educators, administrators and community members can submit questions in advance using the hashtag #alvernoSOEforum. Forum planners will be monitoring Twitter for tweets with the appropriate hashtag, and will deliver them to panelists so they will be fully prepared to discuss audience questions.

This forum is the first Alverno Forum to include social media. “Since we’re talking about communication, we wanted to look at opportunities for two-way conversation,” Luebke explains. “We want to structure the forum so that as many people can be involved as possible.”

Many parents, Luebke says, want to be involved in their school communities in a way that goes beyond the PTA, bake sales and fundraisers. “This is where the idea of ‘meaningful and substantive’ enters the conversation,” Luebke says. “It’s not just having parents’ bodies in the school. It’s about, how can they truly contribute and share their talents on behalf of all the kids.”

Forum attendees will hear from parents who have found meaningful ways to contribute to local schools, as well as from educators who have found innovative ways to utilize parent contributions in the educational setting.

“The forum will give parents an opportunity to find out how things are done in other places; they might bring back some ideas for how they can contribute to their child’s school. The forum will also give educators the opportunity to see what others are doing to enhance and hone their relationships with parents, and will help them find effective ways to utilize the power of the teacher-parent partnership,” Luebke says.

Freely sharing these ideas can go a long way toward improving student outcomes. “Research has shown that when parents know how schools work, they’re more likely to become involved in their children’s education. And if parents know there’s a role for them in the school, they’re much more likely to become involved at a substantive level,” Luebke says.

Engaging Parents as True Partners in Education will be held Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 6:00 – 7:30 pm in the Sister Joel Read Center on the Alverno College campus. To learn more, contact Laura Aaron Sear at 414-382-6177 or

Engaging Parents Forum Participants

  • Kirsten Corbell, Chapter Director, Girls-in-Tech Milwaukee
  • Kim Emmer, Family Engagement Liaison, Pewaukee School District
  • Stephanie Falksen, Parent Advocate, Early Childhood/Elementary Education Student
  • Michael Harris, Principal, Riverside University High School
  • Chris Her-Xiong, Founder and Executive Director, Hmong American Peace Academy
  • NaQuisha Mann, Young Leaders Academy
  • John Marzion, Math Interventionist, Oak Creek East Middle School
  • Maureen Sullivan, Executive Director, Woodlands School, Inc. and Principal, Woodlands East
  • Hally Xiong, Elementary Teacher, Hmong American Peace Academy