Berkshire School News
June 2, 2022 by Staff Report

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and families have become newly engaged with their child’s education...

Community Engagement Design Showcase

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and families have become newly engaged with their child’s education. To proactively strengthen ties between parents and the school, Berkshire Local Schools’ Superintendent John Stoddard, with support from Lakeland Community College’s Chapter of the Teachers Guild, developed community engagement design teams to identify and implement promising new strategies to build stronger family-school engagement.

Each team, which was comprised of parents, teachers and one school administrator, used the process of human-centered design to create, test and spread innovative solutions that bring families and schools closer together. Lakeland’s Teachers Guild human-centered design experts, Rachel Siegel and Karly Smith, helped to guide the Berkshire teams through facilitated Design Sprints over the course of the 2021-22 academic year.

“This co-design framework was developed by The Teachers Guild and School Retool on a national level, and we were thrilled to implement it here locally with Berkshire Schools,” explained Rachel Siegel, design and innovation specialist and Teachers Guild program lead at Lakeland Community College. “This innovative partnership is a great example of how organizations can work together to be a catalyst for change and better meet the needs of their school communities. We are eager to see how these results impact the parents, students, teachers and overall Berkshire community.”

The five design teams, hailing from Burton Elementary, Ledgemont Elementary and Berkshire Junior-Senior High School, highlighted their work at a Family-Engagement Showcase on May 12 at Berkshire’s new preK-12 facility.

Berkshire High School team #1 focused on building more trusting relationships with families and connecting teachers and parents. Projects implemented included creating a staff email signature for all teachers with their photo, name and contact information; bringing families “into the classroom” by filming student learning, teacher instruction and project creation; and sharing the videos in school communications so parents can see what was happening in class.

Berkshire High School team #2 also focused on building more trusting relationships with families and addressed the topic of student mental health. Projects implemented included creating a comprehensive Berkshire Junior-Senior High School “Mental Health Resources” flow chart for the purpose of communicating available mental health services at school to parents’ and hosting a speaker on social media use for parents and students.

Berkshire High School team #3 focused on strengthening the bond between school and community. Projects implemented included hosting a meet and greet between teachers and parents during parent teacher conferences; and igniting interest in a Parent-Teacher-Student Organization where parents, students and teachers work collaboratively to achieve common goals shared between the school and community.

Burton Elementary School focused on building more trusting relationships with families. Projects implemented included developing and implementing a “family choice board” that encourages families to participate in their child’s development and build relationships with their child’s teacher. The pilot program was so successful in the fifth grade that it is now expanding to the entire elementary school.

Ledgemont Elementary School focused on connecting families and teachers to celebrate Ledgemont. Projects implemented included surprising families with the district mascot,“Bert the Badger” at dismissal time to wave to the families and take pictures with students; and supporting families in creating posters with their favorite Ledgemont memories, then turning them into a slideshow for the Ledgemont community to enjoy.

“This was a great start to re-engaging our families with the school, but we don’t want to stop here. We want to continue to work with these committees and to expand to reach more families,” shared Stoddard. “The initial work focused on things that the teachers and staff could do to help increase the levels of engagement. Next, we would like to get ideas from our families about what they can do both inside and outside the school to continue this process.”

Interested in learning more about Lakeland’s Teachers Guild and how to help support the school district’s efforts? Contact Rachel Siegel, Teachers Guild Program Lead, at rsiegel3@lakelandcc.edu.

About The Teachers Guild

The Teachers Guild uses design thinking, a human-centered approach to problem-solving, to help educators try new ideas and lead change at their schools. It is a nonprofit initiative of Plussed at Riverdale Country School in New York City and IDEO’s Design for Learning Studio. Riverdale and IDEO’s “Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit” is used by educators around the world.

Lakeland became the first community college in the nation to establish a chapter of the Teachers Guild in August 2018. Educators complete between 30-40 hours of professional learning through workshops, coaching sessions, learning modules, and individual work on their design challenges. More information can be found at: https://sites.google.com/view/lakeland-teachers-guild.

About Lakeland Community College

For more than 50 years, Lakeland Community College has impacted thousands of lives through learning. Founded in 1967, Lakeland was the first college in Ohio created by a vote of the people. True to its mission, the college provides quality learning opportunities to nearly 8,000 credit students to meet the needs of the community at its campus in Kirtland and online.

Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, Lakeland offers more than 140 associate degree and certificate programs that may lead to high-demand careers or transfer to four-year institutions. The college also provides access to bachelor’s, graduate and doctorate degrees along with certificates and endorsements, as well as lifelong learning opportunities, on campus through the Holden University Center of Lakeland, in partnership with 12 four-year institutions.