eBRIEF: November 2021

ebrief the newsletter for busy educators

November 2021

young man with down syndrome hugs mother while dad watches and smiles In this issue:


photo of lynn mckahan

It seems as if November came upon us quickly this year; maybe it was the warmer weather, or maybe it was our focus on re-introducing students to their in-school routine, but many of you have commented that the month and the change in seasons snuck up on you.  With the approaching holidays (yes, they too are sneaking up on us), November seems like the perfect month to focus on families and your school’s engagement goals as a part of your school improvement work. In this month’s newsletter, you will find several articles, books, and other resources that will support you in actively including families in your efforts.

After all, there is no better opportunity to generate ideas, build community support, receive feedback, and stay focused in your continuous improvement efforts than to engage with the families that are entrusting you with their children.  As always, SST 1 is here to provide support, answer questions, and share resources as you build relationships with your families.

Happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful that the students and families in our region have such dedicated education professionals working hard for them every day.

Thank you!


Lynn McKahan, M.A., Director
State Support Team 1

Please note:  Our offices will be closed Wednesday, November 24 – Friday, November 26 for Thanksgiving Break.

family meets with teacher


During the month of November, we acknowledge the importance of strong relationships between schools, families, and community partners in increasing outcomes for all students. In committing to include parents and community stakeholders in conversations, planning, and decision-making, we can better identify problems, clear up misunderstandings and misconceptions, find solutions, and provide students with outstanding learning experiences.

November also provides an opportunity to recognize our military families. It is Military Family Appreciation Month, and we thank military families for their commitment and sacrifices to our country. Military families face unique challenges and schools can be fantastic partners for supporting and encouraging them before, during, and after reassignments and deployments. Look for suggestions in the learn more section below.

Learn more

Please share with your families: The Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center at The Ohio State University is seeking new parent and caregiver members for its State Advisory Council. Participants must have children enrolled in an Ohio public school district, and must not be educational professionals. Applications are due November 19.

Learn more about the State Advisory Council

group of people in a huddle with hands in middle of circle


Working with families and community partners is a key part of supporting the whole child. The Ohio Department of Education believes in the transformative power of strong school+family and school+community relationships and has included these collaborations for student success in both Each Child, Our Future: Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education and Each Child Means Each Child: Ohio’s Plan to Improve Learning Experiences and Outcomes for Students with Disabilities.

Whole Child Framework

“Everyone, not just those in schools, shares the responsibility of preparing children for successful futures. The most important partners are parents and caregivers, who have the greatest impact on a child’s development. Other critical partners include educators, institutions of higher education, business, philanthropy, employers, libraries, social service organizations, community members, health care providers, behavioral health experts and many more. Put simply, partnerships transform the education experience. “

“The focus areas, recommendations, tactics and action steps of Each Child Means Each Child will ensure Ohio meets the unique educational needs of the more than 270,000 students identified with disabilities. Partnerships with others will put this plan into action, creating a positive and lasting impact on Ohio’s education system.”

Partnerships are one of the three core principles of Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education. Along with equity and quality schools, partnerships are emphasized across each of the plan’s components and are a key part of ensuring the needs of the whole child are met.

More information

mother helps daughter with backpack while dad watches


graphic: overlapping spheres of influence
Everyone wants excellent and successful schools and students, and we know that it takes collaboration from families and community partners to build strong schools.

The Overlapping Spheres of Influence model from Joyce L. Epstein, Ph.D., Director of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships and Professor of Education in the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, is child-centered, with student success dependent upon overlapping support from the schools, families, and community.

However, research shows not all school – family – community activities are created equal. We often think of working with families and community members in terms of field trip volunteers, fundraiser supporters, and activity attendees, but true partnerships with families and community stakeholders are built on a foundation of communication, transparency, trust, and a shared responsibility to improve schools.

“School, family, and community partnerships is a better term than parental involvement to recognize that parents, educators, and others in the community share responsibility for students’ learning and development.”Dr. Joyce Epstein


Family Involvement  = Participation School +Family + Community Engagement
= Shared Responsibility
Community Involvement = Participation
critical for student learning and achievement vital for meaningful participation that influences informed decision-making critical for school success
families take part in in organized events, activities, and volunteer opportunities families and community partners are active participants in schools and provide feedback, ideas, resources, and opportunities that support the academic achievement of each student organizations provide financial support through donations, sponsorships, and scholarships
support their child’s learning by using materials and resources supplied by the teacher or school quality interactions between educators and other district representatives, home, and community organizations support common goals to improve schools and learning opportunities for all learners support learning through speaking engagements and informational materials


Supplemental Partnership
Sporadic Central, Systematic
Problem-Focused Proactive

Additional Resources

dad helps son with homeworkCONNECTING WITH FAMILIES

meme: I talked to a student's parent. It was scary
Strong family and school partnerships provide children with the supports and opportunities they need to learn, grow, and be a part of the community as a whole, but building relationships can be challenging.

By examining research from Dr. Epstein and the evidence-supported practices provided by the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center, we can reflect upon and improve the ways we approach family partnerships — and take the fear out of communicating with families.


  PARENTING: Helping families build a strong and supportive home environment aids in child development
  COMMUNICATING: Effective two-way connections ensure a common understanding of school programs and the child’s progress at home and school
  VOLUNTEERING: Families share their talents and skills while building connections with their child’s school
  LEARNING AT HOME: Educators set parents up for success in supporting their child’s educational growth
  DECISION MAKING: Families are key stakeholders in school improvement and supporting informed decisions that make a difference for students
  COMMUNITY COLLABORATION: Resources and activities from the community for the community provide opportunities for students


We can ensure we are effectively implementing the Six Keys when building relationships with families by using research supported principles from the Statewide Family Engagement Center as a guide. 

Partnership strategies are proactive and positive, and begin in the early years of a child’s life, early in the school year, and/or early in the relationship between parent and educator
Relationships between schools and families are built over time on a strong foundation of care, communication, and respect
School representatives believe a family’s cultural practices and beliefs are important, and that the family has strengths and expert knowledge about their child
Family engagement activities are clearly and intentionally linked to supporting outcomes for children, and families are given information about how they can support their child’s learning
School representatives share information about the student’s progress along with how parents can support their learning and behavior at home
Communication between the school and home is two-way, and school representatives include parent suggestions and ideas in their planning and implementation
Several different ways of communicating, interacting with, and supporting the school/family relationship are offered to accommodate differing family needs
Education professionals listen to families’ expectations for their children and communicate the promise they see in the child in order to collaboratively motivate and encourage students
Family engagement is a consistent practice, helping to cultivate trust, two-way communication, and relationships.


We have created a simple spreadsheet to help you keep track of your family engagement evidence-supported practices aligned with the research supported principles described above. Take it to your next meeting and share with your teams to ensure you are all on the same page.

Download the progress monitoring tool


Gain new skills, explore family engagement strategies, and network with your peers! We invite district leaders and school administrators to join our next virtual Family Engagement Community of Practice, beginning in the new year. Watch for more information in future issues of eBRIEF or check our events calendar for updates.

More information

graphic with ideas for school/family partnerships

from Kidsburgh: Two months, 200 new ideas and a chance to revolutionize parent engagement in education

group listens to presenterCOMMUNITY COLLABORATION

“Challenging, preparing and empowering students is a community-wide effort. Partners represent the collective action needed to support each child and increase the likelihood of student success.”Each Child Our Future
Ohio Improvement Process Graphic


When considering how to involve community members, businesses, and organizations in your school, begin by expanding your vision of what school and learning could look like beyond the walls of the classroom — get creative with how community stakeholders can provide innovative learning opportunities for students across all grade levels.

Just as school leadership teams use the Ohio Improvement Process (OIP) to help guide overall school improvement efforts, it is also a great tool to use when planning and monitoring community engagement efforts. We recommend using the OIP to focus your work.

Ask Questions, Review Data, and Consider Opportunities

The Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center has developed a tool to help Building Leadership Teams assess their school’s current family engagement practices and determine action steps for improvement in the areas of communication, learning at home, and community partnerships. The included appendices offer strategies for expanding your engagement efforts.
Download the assessment tool

Set a Bigger Table
Invite teachers, students, families, and community members to discuss ways to provide relevant, engaging, hands-on learning experiences for students of all ages.

Get to Know Your Local Community
Offer community members, business owners, and organization leaders a chance to visit your schools during the day, and tour their facilities to better understand what skills, passions, and resources can be shared with your learners. Be sure to include teachers & students for their ideas. Keep an open-door policy and embrace a growth mindset. Say yes to new experiences.

Make Connections
Map out your community resources and begin to find the connections to learning. Align their offerings to the learning standards, experiences, and training you want your students to experience. This is also a great time to discuss with your partners how much time, materials, and other resources they are able to invest.

Get Creative: Move beyond the career day speaker and think of ways to use hands-on experiences with subject-matter experts to inspire a love of learning. Example: Connecting CTE construction trades, and fine and performing arts students with builders and designers in the community to develop, construct, and paint the set for your spring musical.

Set Goals
Where do you need to move the needle? How do your community engagement activities support overall school improvement? Build momentum by including your community partners in setting and attaining goals.

Let Learning Begin
This is the fun part! All the research, planning, and hard work has led to this point — increased learning opportunities for students!

Monitor & Communicate Progress
Check in with your stakeholders for feedback and share photos, student work, and stories about your activities with the wider community. Get excited about the progress you are making, and invite others to participate.

Review Your Successes and Challenges
Assess your efforts with your students, families, community partners, and staff. What worked well? What needs modified for next year? Where are there areas for even more growth?

Do you have creative ideas and strategies to support collaborative family and school partnerships happening in your schools? We’d love to hear from youWe will share your suggestions and successes with the region via Twitter.

Examples of Community & School Partnerships in Region 1

More information

stack of open books


The titles below are recommended by Tamie Cruz, M.A., SST 1 Family & Community Engagement Consultant. If you have questions about how to improve the ways you collaborate with families and community stakeholders, reach out to her at 419.720.8999, ext. 123.

book cover - beyond the bake sale

Beyond the Bake Sale  |  Anne T. Henderson, Karen L. Mapp, Vivian R. Johnson, and Don Davies

Partnering with families can be much more than asking for cookies and brownies to sell at the school bake sale.  True partnership involves key elements such as building relationships, linking families to learning, addressing differences, supporting advocacy, sharing power, and then scaling up from one school to the entire district.  This easy to read book is based in research, and contains various questionnaires, tips, anecdotes, and strategies for engaging families in the school community.


book cover: Engage Every Family
Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles  |  Steven M. Constantino

This book provides inventories, activities, case studies, assessments, and more to help you put theory into practice to engage every family in the school, and outlines 5 principles of family engagement:

  • Creating a culture that engages every family
  • Communicating effectively to develop relationships
  • Building family efficacy
  • Engaging each family in decision making
  • Engaging the greater community

book cover: School, Family, And Community Partnerships
School, Family, and Community Partnerships  | Joyce L. Epstein and Associates

Based on the research by family engagement expert, Dr. Joyce Epstein, this book outlines the framework used by the National Network for Partnership Schools for engaging families, communities, and schools to support the whole child.  Action Teams for Partnerships (ATPs) consisting of family members, administrators, teachers, and community partners are formed in each school.  The ATP, guided by a district facilitator, works together to help to meet the needs identified in the school improvement plan.  The book offers sample agendas, team templates, action plans, and more to help support the development of this framework districtwide.

group of teachers hears from presenter



Holding Great Meetings for Families  |  On Demand  |  State Support Team 1
SST 1 Urban Literacy Specialist, Jackie Jacoby offers suggestions for holding more effective planning meetings with students and families in her session at the 2021 Family Engagement Summit.

Family Engagement in Education |  On Demand  |  Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center
The Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center at The Ohio State University offers support for educators who want to improve their family engagement efforts. A variety of training materials from conferences to webinars is available on their website.

Family Engagement Leaders in Ohio  |  Live/Virtual  |  Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center
Ideal for family engagement professionals in Ohio schools, this professional learning community meets virtually four times per year for opportunities to learn from each other and build partnerships for all families.

Family & Community Engagement Training Module  |  On Demand  |  OLAC
This free training offers information and planning information for family and community engagement from the perspective of parents as partners in the education of their children.

Family Engagement Modules  |  On Demand  |  You for Youth
These free modules will help you understand the benefits of working with families and identify the steps for planning, designing, and implementing family engagement activities.

Grandparents Raising Grandkids  |  On Demand  |  State Support Team 11
Our friends at State Support Team 11 speak with Barbara Boone and Angela Provenzano about the unique supports educators can connect with and provide support to families who are raising their grandchildren. The Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center also provides helpful information regarding working with grandfamilies.


Graduation Power Hour  |  November 9
Join us for resources and strategies designed to enhance student, parent, staff, and community engagement leading to improved graduation rates and post-school outcomes for students.

PBIS Virtual Network Meeting  |  November 9
Van Buren Elementary will discuss their Tier II framework and Reset Room in this informal after-school network. Following their presentation, the presentation team will answer your PBIS questions.

Literacy Leaders Network  |  November 11
Learn evidence-based practices and strategies to promote literacy achievement for all learners following the timelines and requirements of Ohio’s new dyslexia legislation.

Preschool Leader Network  |  November 11
Stay up-to-date on early childhood education news, ensure you are meeting federal requirements, and receive support for the use of standards, curriculum, and assessment for all learners.

PBIS Virtual Office Hours  |  November 15
These drop-in, come-as-you-are, virtual office hours are offered to support your PBIS implementation efforts. Bring your questions, help brainstorm ideas and solutions, and network with other schools.

2021 OCALICONLINE Conference  November 16 – 19
Join SST1 consultants, Lisa Hite and Nicole Herbert for “UDL: Going Beyond Access” during the 2021 OCALICONLINE Conference on Thursday, November 18  from  4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

CTE Special Education Leaders Network  |  November 30
Collaborate to improve the achievement of students with disabilities, and receive special education updates, discuss data, face challenges together, and share successes.

Supporting Students with Disabilities through Integrated Leadership  |  December 1
Join in deep discussions regarding meeting the needs of special education students and ensuring they each receive rigorous, evidence-based instruction.

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eBRIEF! is the primary source for the latest news and information from State Support Team 1. The monthly digital publication is designed to provide you with relevant education resources, timely news and announcements, and upcoming professional learning opportunities.

Level Up with Literacy is a bi-monthly digital publication that provides information and resources to help you ensure all learners have access to high-quality language and literacy instruction and appropriate interventions from birth through grade 12.

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State Support Team Region 1
Lynn McKahan, M.Ed., Director
2275 Collingwood Blvd. | Suite C | Toledo, OH 43620
info@sstr1.org | 419.720.8999 | www.sstr1.org

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This website was supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, (Award H027A210111 CFDA 84.027A, awarded to the Ohio Department of Education). The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, and no official endorsement by the Department should be inferred.