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Profiles of Family Engagement Partnership Graduates: John Lewis Elementary School

This June, we are celebrating the accomplishments of Flamboyan partner schools that have graduated from the Family Engagement Partnership (FEP). The FEP is an opportunity for schools to develop their culture and practices in REAL Family Engagement, with the support and expertise of Flamboyan’s expert Coaches. FEP schools work to grow and sustain their own family engagement practices through four phases, from building relationships with families to long-term program sustainability.

Graduation from the FEP was a goal for John Lewis Elementary School this year. The small-but-strong three-person Family Engagement Leadership Team (FELT) at John Lewis had already begun thinking about what graduation from the FEP might look like for them when Coach Joshua Jones began meeting with them at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.

“They were already riding and they didn’t need the training wheels,” said Joshua. “Not to say they didn’t benefit from a thought partner, but they were operating with thoughtfulness in how they moved and had strong leadership and school-wide commitment.” 

In particular, educators at John Lewis were focused on ensuring that their approach to family engagement and partnership felt authentic and specific to them. The school has a growing and changing student population, including many families who speak a language other than English at home or who may be experiencing education in the United States for the first time. 

Leaders at John Lewis thought about how they were communicating with families – including using an app that translates messages into the preferred language for the family – and inviting families into the classroom to experience what students are learning. This year, John Lewis also set up a cultural day where students and families were invited to share their own culture and what is meaningful to them, giving families a sense of agency and growing community.

“It was important to the school that these opportunities not feel like cookie cutter options for families, but genuine and original to the school,” said Joshua. 

The team at John Lewis has taken ownership of their own growth and sustainability of family engagement practices. They proactively looked at family engagement data and reached out to provide support to others in the building who might need additional capacity or training in academic partnering with families. Their FELT team, with the encouragement of Principal Nikeysha Jackson, felt comfortable encouraging their colleagues to check their own biases and develop systems so that each family gets individualized support.

Each FELT team member brought their own strong understanding of what REAL Family Engagement looks like – including one team member with experience on a FELT at another DC school. This perspective helped them to shape a strong vision of what is important after they graduate from the FEP this June. 

The experience, says Joshua, will help him as a Coach too: “John Lewis ES has given me insight about how to think about the qualities of a graduated school, so I can better support schools that are new to the FEP and schools that I might coach in the future.”