Monday, May 28, 2012

Hawthorne Community Does the Hard Work

I visited Hawthorne earlier this year when they opened their Family Support room.  The Times has a story about the energy surging through this school from both parents and staff.  This is how a community retakes and rebuilds its neighborhood school.

The story I was told was that a couple of neighborhood parents, when their kids were preschools, thought, "why wouldn't I go to my neighborhood school?" when neighbors tried to warn them off.  Undeterred, they enrolled their children and had potlucks and neighborhood gatherings to talk about how to support the school and what incredible diversity they would be giving their own children (not to mention being able to walk to school). 

These are real parents making a real difference.  Their principal is totally supportive and works with all groups. 

This is how you do it. 

I am also aware of efforts at Northgate Elementary for parents in that neighborhood who want to have a neighborhood school and will make the effort to do that for that school. 

Hawthorne has a ways to go but it is the fellowship of parents, working together with staff, that creates great schools. 


seattle citizen said...

Yay! "Family Support Room"! I LOVE it!

Anonymous said...

Yes! Ahem, hello to all of the critics who believe this blog is nothing but negativity. Read this one. Thanks for including props for Northgate.


Anonymous said...

This sounds a bit familiar... it is exactly how Daniel Bagley became a wildly successful neighborhood school. I'm sure there are more examples, too. The main thing is to have the principal, staff and community members/parents all working together. Having a family support room and family support worker clears the way for all the parents to become involved in the school.

dw said...

Great story Brian, keep up the good work.

Did anyone else notice the huge lack of anything to do with charter schools in this article? Hawthorne is pulling together as a community and making real positive changes to their school, and THEY DIDN'T NEED ANY CHARTER TO DO IT!

Anonymous said...

I'm thrilled to hear that Hawthorne is getting things together, but Hawthorne could be the poster child for the problems with SPS. Hear me out...

When my 17-year-old was a preschooler, Hawthorne was a very desirable school. We had friends whose older children were there and they could not say enough good things about it.

Within a few years, this same friend was putting her third child in Beacon—Hawthorne was now a terrible school. What happened? New principal—evidently one of the pinball principals that SPS bounces from school to school. The MO at the time (and perhaps still today) was to put one of these principals into a "strong" school in the hopes that the families and staff would be able to overcome. It rarely works. Instead, active families and stellar teachers flee the school and the school slides downhill. I've seen this scenario repeated all over the District.

It sounds like Hawthorne is back on track and has a good principal—the very important piece in the puzzle of what makes a good school. Good for them!

Let's hope Banda can be the key to breaking this cycle.

Solvay Girl

Jan said...

Totally agree with Solvay Girl. To her point, recall what happened with Madrona when local parents tried to enroll their kids and get involved to help the school become more successful. They were totally shut out -- and the school still struggles to attract its own neighborhood kids to this day.

The critical factor so often is a good principal -- and Solvay Girl is right. The District historically has had a basket of weak ones that they just "move around" -- to the detriment of teachers AND kids. In strong schools, parents tend to band together to complain, monitor behaviors, and push for better decision-making -- so the weak ones tend not to stay too long. But this needs to stop happening. We need to learn to find (and grow, when there aren't enough) really good principals. THEN that "principal will cull the bad teachers" thing can work. Not before.

Anonymous said...

I've had this conversation recently with several parents. Teachers who open the doors to parents have better outcomes and happier parents. I don't know why all teachers haven't learned that encouraging parents into the classroom benefits everyone. Now handling and coordinating parents is another job. But it is worth it in the end.