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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 6, 2008 | Vol. 38 No. 6
School-Community Success Stories Shared in New Book

By Mary Maushard

The National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins has teamed up with schools across the country to share innovative and effective ways to involve parents in schools, help schools meet the needs of their families and encourage communities to form partnerships with schools and families.

Promising Partnership Practices 2008 offers dozens of activities and projects that schools and school districts across the country created and found successful. It is the latest in an annual collection of more than 100 creative and useful activities for involving families and community partners in schools.

"At a time when many educators feel pressure to focus narrowly on test scores, this book is designed to help schools, districts, states and organizations take a broader view," said Joyce Epstein, director of NNPS. "These are research-based, creative approaches to mobilize family and community support for education and to implement effective partnership practices to increase student success."

The book draws on the work of 77 schools, 18 districts, five organizations and three state departments of education that are members of the national network across 24 states and one Canadian province.

Ideas that can be easily adapted by others include a Whistle Stop Tour by teachers from Maple Elementary in Cambridge, Md., who went into neighborhoods before school started to meet new students and families and get reacquainted with others; a Heart Healthy Lunch on Valentine's Day at Buffalo (N.Y.) Public School #53, featuring a nutritious lunch for students and parents and opportunities for health screenings; and a Word of the Week program at Skyline High School in Idaho Falls, Idaho, that involved the whole community in helping students build their vocabularies in preparation for the SAT.

With academic and nonacademic goals, the practices run the gamut of school, district and statewide activities, such as family mathematics and literacy nights, back-to-school events, college and career fairs and fitness sessions. Each activity is detailed in a one-page article that explains the purpose of the practice; how it was implemented, publicized and paid for; and how it was received and evaluated. Many of the activities aim to increase adults' involvement in schools and create a welcoming school climate for families and community members. Others address specific adult needs, such as English language classes and employment assistance. Most activities focus on specific goals for student success, such as improving reading, math and science skills, and behavior and postsecondary planning. All are geared toward creating successful schools and successful students.

Promising Partnership Practices 2008 is available online at in the "Success Stories" section, with more than 700 practices from previous publications. Copies of the book are available for $18.95 by using the order form on the Web site.


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