On Thursday, November 14, the Kansas City Public School District and Webster University hosted the second Family Engagement event of the school year at Manual Tech in downtown Kansas City. Sponsored by the Culturally Responsive Instruction for English Language Learners grant from the Department of Education, the events serve English learners and their families and provide KCPS teachers enrolled in the ESOL certification program at Webster University with the experience and skills to host future family engagement events at their individual schools.
Close to one hundred English learners and family members from around the world brought dishes to share. During dinner, KCPS staff made announcements about what to expect during the winter season and holidays. Afterward, instructional coaches from KCPS Language Services and Parents as Teachers presented activities that families can use at home to build family literacy. Divided into langauge groups, the families rotated between three stations and afterward took home folders with materials so they can continue using the activities.
The KCPS teachers enrolled in Webster’s ESOL certification program supported operations throughout the event while translators from the KCPS Title III office provided translation in Somali, Arabic, Burmese, Karen, and Spanish. The teachers helped serve food and clean up after dinner, assisted coaches presenting literacy activities, provided childcare, and helped interpreters. While families and teachers participated in the literacy activities, Dr. Gayle Bradshaw and Phyllis Harris hosted a community roundtable discussion where community agencies discussed their services to English learners and families and the needs that remain.
The goal of the Culturally Responsive Instruction for English Language Learners project is to provide building-wide professional development tailored to each member of staff – from paraprofessionals to principals – to transform the culture of each school by providing culturally responsive education to staff and building relationships within the community. In its second year, the five-year grant will provide a total of one hundred teachers with the opportunity to complete a graduate certification in ESOL at Webster University by summer 2017.