How can we build connections between families and schools that benefit our students? Join us in conversation with Laura Bucio and Nikki Huckaby of Rome City Schools to learn more!

Laura Bucio and Nikki Huckaby in Classroom Conversations

How can we build connections between families and schools that benefit our students? Join us in conversation with Laura Bucio and Nikki Huckaby of Rome City Schools to learn more!



Ashley Mengwasser: Hello. Hello. Welcome back to the platform for Georgia's Teachers Classroom Conversations. It's the podcast series co-produced by the Georgia Department of Education and Georgia Public Broadcasting. I'm your host, Ashley Mengwasser. We're basically family now, right? I mean, we've been together for four whole seasons as you've been along for the listening ride, and that's commitment. We're connected. So I wanted you to know today we're getting engaged. Thank you. Thank you. It's time I know, two entities becoming one. I guess that's how it usually goes. Communication, commitment, trust, sharing, honesty, feedback. You want a relationship to work, you're going to need those qualities, and they're the bedrock of a family friendly foundation in Georgia schools. Today's episode explores family engagement, fostering a connection between families and schools. Research has shown that when parents and educators are on the same side, ensuring a high quality education, students are much more likely to succeed. Think about it. Who knows children better than their parents and who knows students better than their teachers? With these two entities in union, talk about solid ground for young learners to stand on. Well, for this conversation, I've engaged the family engagement coordinator for Rome City Schools, Laura Bucio and Nikki Huckaby, third grade teacher at West End Elementary within the district. Welcome, Laura and Nikki.

Laura Bucio: Hi.

Ashley Mengwasser: Hi.

Nikki Huckaby: Hi. Thank you.

Ashley Mengwasser: How are you today, women?

Laura Bucio: Good.

Nikki Huckaby: I'm great.

Ashley Mengwasser: Looking sunny. I like the positive vibes here. We always like that on this podcast. I've got so much I want to cover with you, my intendeds. Let's talk about your roles in education. We'll go with you first here, Laura. How did you become the new family engagement coordinator for Rome City Schools?

Laura Bucio: So, I am the District Family Engagement Coordinator. I've been in the education field for seven years. I started as a Spanish interpreter in another district. And I've always helped with parents, was always involved with parent conferences, even personal matters. And when this new role emerged with Rome City Schools, the previous parent engagement coordinator actually reached out to me and she said, "I think you would be great." She's like, "You already work well with parents, everyone loves you." So at first I was like, "Well, I don't really know what that is."

Ashley Mengwasser: This sounds new.

Laura Bucio: Yeah, it's completely new. But then I did my research and I was like, "Well, that is exactly what I want to do." So I applied for the job and was offered the position.

Ashley Mengwasser: That is beautiful. And it's actually, you said it's a Title 1 role.

Laura Bucio: It is.

Ashley Mengwasser: How many schools are in your district?

Laura Bucio: We have eight.

Ashley Mengwasser: You have eight schools.

Laura Bucio: We have six elementary schools and then a middle school and a high school. And as of right now, all schools are Title I.

Ashley Mengwasser: Okay. And you were supporting all eight schools with the family engagement. That's a big job. But this is a role that supports your administration, right?

Laura Bucio: Yes.

Ashley Mengwasser: Who is it supporting?

Laura Bucio: In our district, our assistant principals serve as the family engagement coordinators for the school. And some of our lower performance schools do have parent mentors that also serve a smaller version of me, and then I'm there to support them in any type of way.

Ashley Mengwasser: Well, thank you for being the glue. I know that's a big job. And for you, Nikki, 16 years at West End Elementary. Well done, madam. Tell me about your role.

Nikki Huckaby: Well, I am a third-grade teacher at West End, a literacy teacher.

Ashley Mengwasser: Heck yeah.

Nikki Huckaby: I spent about five or six years in second grade and then moved up to third grade and have been there ever since. Loved every single second. I help out a lot at the school. Love to be involved in things like the leadership team, STEM team, love to help out with, for example, the Hispanic Heritage Committee, providing mentorship for new teachers that come to the school. Any way I can help, I enjoy doing that.

Ashley Mengwasser: Any way you can help, you do.

Nikki Huckaby: Yes.

Ashley Mengwasser: What are third graders like for our educators listening who don't teach that grade? She laughs, ha ha ha ha.

Nikki Huckaby: They're very interesting characters. I absolutely adore them. Would not want to teach any other age. They really are my favorite. They're really just coming into their own and developing their personality, figuring out who they are. And they still love you as a teacher. But they're just so much fun every day.

Ashley Mengwasser: Yeah. Developing their personalities. I've been around some eight year olds, that sounds about right. One of my favorite things that I've learned from hosting a podcast with educators and administrators in education is that you're such interesting people, seriously. Laura, do you have any hobbies you want to tell us about today?

Laura Bucio: Yeah, I did get into weightlifting, so that's new. And I do love to read and spend time with the family. We're very outdoorsy, camping, hiking. We love to go to the lake. We got a boat last year, so that's also new.

Ashley Mengwasser: Oh, you got a boat? Now that's a full-time job they say.

Laura Bucio: It is, but we love it.

Ashley Mengwasser: Yeah, and you love to read. You just pick anything you want or you have a-

Laura Bucio: Yeah, I recently actually just finished, did y'all watch Firefly?

Ashley Mengwasser: Oh, I haven't seen that Firefly, no.

Laura Bucio: Well, I just finished the book. I watched the series on Netflix and I just finished the book and I'm going to start the second one. It's nonfiction.

Ashley Mengwasser: Okay, so you have a long list to read?

Laura Bucio: I do. I have a long TBR list-

Ashley Mengwasser: To be read.

Laura Bucio: Yeah, to be read, yes, to be read list. I have a long list. Like I've mentioned to my husband, it's kind of sad because I will probably not be here one day and not get to finish my to be read list. Isn't that sad?

Ashley Mengwasser: Tell him the list continues with him. He's going to have to-

Laura Bucio: Yes, I told him he had to finish it for me.

Ashley Mengwasser: You could think about instead of lifting weights, lifting books, and then you could read while you lift.

Laura Bucio: No, I actually do that.

Ashley Mengwasser: I believe it.

Laura Bucio: I have my Kindle and I'm reading-

Ashley Mengwasser: Oh, my gosh. I was kidding, Laura. That is true. That's true dedication. How do you spend your days off, Nikki?

Nikki Huckaby: Well, right now my daughter plays on a soccer team, traveling soccer team. So that keeps us pretty busy. That's my main hobby right now is watching her play soccer. But I do love my animals. I can echo what Laura said. I am an outdoorsy person. Love to run, love to exercise, love to read, of course, love to spend time with family. Those are things that are really important to me.

Ashley Mengwasser: Those are your core values?

Nikki Huckaby: Yes.

Ashley Mengwasser: I love it. And you've got some wilderness surrounding you. Tell us about that.

Nikki Huckaby: My dad has a lot of cows, and we live pretty close, on the same street there. And so we have cows and horses, and all kind of animals around us. It's enjoyable. I love it.

Ashley Mengwasser: Yeah. Do you wake up to mooing?

Nikki Huckaby: Yes. And in the middle of the night and all day.

Ashley Mengwasser: Is there anything more enlivening than that, that's beautiful.

Well, West End Elementary, where you teach, was named a family-friendly school by the state, which is a designation that I personally love. Tell us about that award, would you?

Nikki Huckaby: Absolutely. Well, up to about 10 schools are honored each year with the family friendly status.

Ashley Mengwasser: A short list.

Nikki Huckaby: Yeah. Yeah. These schools are really known for having a welcoming environment where families, communities members feel like they belong. They play an important role in children's education and in their success. And so they look for certain characteristics like physical environment of the school on the inside and outside, how welcoming is it? Personal contact, when you come into the school is there anybody there to greet you? Are they smiling, that welcoming feeling that you get when you come in. They also look at communication, having a positive line of communication mostly, daily, weekly, in lots of different ways, as well as having school practices and policies in place for how you reach out to families and include them in their child's education.

Ashley Mengwasser: That's wonderful. So in all of those domains, you all have excelled. Congratulations.

Nikki Huckaby: Thank you.

Ashley Mengwasser: And we'll explore some of your most effective practices today, but I want to borrow just one that the district uses. Laura, you can tell us about this. Family Tip Tuesday, what is Family Tip Tuesday?

Laura Bucio: Family Tip Tuesday was an idea of our superintendent. And it's just some tips to share with families through social media. It puts the aspect of casual conversation to become the bridge for a family and just make it easier for parents to communicate with us. So we share it on Facebook, we share it on our website. If we reach the character limit, we share it on Twitter.

Ashley Mengwasser: If you exceed the character limit, I love it.

Laura Bucio: I believe we share it on Instagram too, but it's just some tips for families that we share out there to have that communication with me.

Ashley Mengwasser: Well, you won an award for this in your district. So I would love to hear, if the two of you wouldn't mind sharing, maybe, what are your fave Family Tips from Tuesday's past?

Laura Bucio: I'll share a couple and then Ms. Huckaby can share some as well. I think my favorite one is, "Stay tech-savvy." As parents, keeping up with the latest tech trends, apps, social media, to better guide your children.

Ashley Mengwasser: That's so hard, you're right. Good point.

Laura Bucio: So, then the second one, staying connected with teachers: attending events, conferences, and just keeping that line of communication open.

Ashley Mengwasser: Go to the things that the school offers. Yeah, that's a good reminder for parents. What do you have for us Nikki?

Nikki Huckaby: Well, first one that stood out to me was, mastering time management for success. I feel like even as adults, we need this reminder, but especially for our kids these days, they're so busy. But teaching them what the priorities are, how to efficiently organize their day so that school is a priority, time with family is a priority. Teaching them how to structure their time so that they can learn that healthy balance in life. I thought that that one stood out to me and was super important. And then also being a learning role model, learning never ends, and that was one that Laura had shared. Just having that positive example for kids that it's really a learning adventure. Learning doesn't stop when school is over. And so when children see their parents reading and learning, making mistakes even, and then learning from those mistakes and being stronger because of it, that teaches our kids so much. I felt like that one was very powerful.

Ashley Mengwasser: It's the cues they're getting at home. Do you have a fifth for us?

Nikki Huckaby: I have, practice active listening when your child discusses school. And I thought that one was interesting because I even do it with my own child where he's talking and I'm listening, but not really listening. Does that make sense?

Ashley Mengwasser: Yeah, it does.

Nikki Huckaby: And so, I feel like if we practice active listening, then they will be more open to talking with us about school.

Ashley Mengwasser: Oh, that's really good, because they're trying to tell us something.

Nikki Huckaby: Yeah, they're trying to tell us something.

Ashley Mengwasser: Very good. Thanks for sharing those. Those are fantastic. Now I have two questions for each of you. You have different positions in administrative offices and in the classroom for you, Nikki. When you speak with parents, Laura, what is their most frequently asked question that you get as a family engagement coordinator?

Laura Bucio: Number one is translating services because they see me as someone who speaks bilingual, so that's probably the number one. We have a large Hispanic community and seeing someone with their native language, they reach out to me immediately. And the second one would be, how can I keep up with how my child is doing? That's probably the second most common after translating services.

Ashley Mengwasser: So, you probably point them to those technology platforms you were talking about?

Laura Bucio: Yeah, I do, and I assist them. I have even met up with some parents and walked them through our power school, which is what we use, and just help them how to get connected and stay connected knowing their child's grades and just knowing how their child is doing.

Ashley Mengwasser: That's really good. And what would you say, Laura, for you, is the most surprising question that you've received from a family in this new position?

Laura Bucio: I've gotten several, but probably the most surprising, and it was probably because it caught me off guard and I was not expecting this, is a parent reached out to me with a personal question. She had mentioned that they were being kicked out of their mobile home area, and she did not know what to do. And so she reached out to me because, I guess, my face was out there and I was the only person. Yeah. So that was very surprising. I was not expecting that and they were being kicked out because they did not have the money. So she was just looking for resources, anywhere that they could move their mobile home.

Ashley Mengwasser: And that actually makes a lot of sense because if you're thinking about your child's education, which your school and your district are prioritizing, you want to keep that kid in the school.

Laura Bucio: Yes, and that's exactly what she was doing.

Ashley Mengwasser: That's probably why. Thank you for being a safe person for families in your community. That's great. Okay, same questions for you, Nikki, the most frequently asked question you get as a teacher in the classroom?

Nikki Huckaby: So, I would say that the most frequently asked question I get as a teacher is, what can I do at home to help my child be successful this school year?

Ashley Mengwasser: That's a great question.

Nikki Huckaby: I get that every year, especially when we're meeting parents at the beginning of the year or even at parent conferences or just in discussions with parents. They're always wanting to know how they can help their child be successful. So that just shows you right there how much they want to be involved.

Ashley Mengwasser: Yes.

Nikki Huckaby: So yeah.

Ashley Mengwasser: That parent investment is good. And what is the most surprising question you've received from a family?

Nikki Huckaby: I guess surprising would be them asking, is there anything you need? I always get that question, which I love because that again, just shows how involved and helpful they really want to be and giving to the classroom that their child's going to be a part of for a year. But they're always saying, "Is there anything you need? Are there any resources, tools that you need? Supplies that you need?" And that one always surprises me. I'm like, "Yeah, there is actually, thanks for asking. Thanks, yeah."

Ashley Mengwasser: Oh, that's fantastic. If you've ever seen the series, listeners, Abbott Elementary, it's really cute. Two seasons available, a mockumentary-style look at how an elementary school is run. And it's very humorous and fun, but there are some real themes explored, and one of them is family engagement. Have any of you seen an episode?

Nikki Huckaby: No. But I really want to now.

Ashley Mengwasser: I've got to tell you-

Laura Bucio: I will be watching it after today.

Ashley Mengwasser: I've got to tell you about this scene that I saw. One of the educators sets up a run-in with a parent in the parent's nail salon, knowing that the parent will be at the Nail Salon weekly. It's her routine. So the teacher gets to have a conversation with the parent about the student. That turns out to be a really fruitful, wonderful conversation because I mean, it's kind of a joke, right? We don't go stalk our parents out in the community. But the idea was that, hey, if you meet parents where they are, you might have this wonderfully beneficial conversation for the student. And they both had this aha moment on their faces, the educator and the parent. They're like, "Wow, word, that was great." They both say, "Word." And it's really funny and it helps you see that there's really something to this. There's a magnetism and a clicking that happens once you got your educators and your families on the same page. So I want to understand, for your district at Rome City Schools, how do you approach family engagement? And let's start with how do we define family engagement?

Laura Bucio: So, I would say in our district, partnership, true partnership. And having a true partnership between families and our teachers and just building that relationship to be able to work together in a meaningful way to help student achievement.

Ashley Mengwasser: Yeah, anything you want to add to that from West End Elementary?

Nikki Huckaby: Well, she said it perfectly. I mean, it's really defined as an essential partnership, equal partnership, that we highly value. So we want our parents to feel encouraged and invited to participate in every area of our school and their child's education. So partnership is the perfect word.

Ashley Mengwasser: Partnership. Okay. Well, you've been awarded as a system for these innovative practices that you have. I'd love to hear about some of them. Would you share a few?

Nikki Huckaby: Well, at the district level, we do have a communication platform that we use, all schools, which is called School Status. And parents can get an app on their phone. It sends out a personal number between the teacher and the child's parent. And we can communicate daily, weekly, with messages or phone calls. Everything is recorded in a database. You can access that anytime you need to. And I feel like that has been a game-changer for communication in our system.

Ashley Mengwasser: There's a track record for all of those messages that parents can go back and reference.

Nikki Huckaby: Yes.

Ashley Mengwasser: That's really good. What else do you have?

Nikki Huckaby: So, at the school level, we do have something called Thrill Share, which automatically posts anything like events or things going on at the school immediately to our website, Twitter, and Facebook all at the same time. So that has been a game changer. Our principal does something called Facebook Fridays Live. And so he will go and visit some classrooms in a specific grade level on Friday, live, yes. So you better be ready.

Ashley Mengwasser: What's he doing in there?

Nikki Huckaby: Really fun. He comes down, he takes a peek into the classroom, they'll walk in. And parents can view live learning, what's going on in the classroom.

Ashley Mengwasser: Like a fly on the wall.

Nikki Huckaby: Yeah, it's really fun. Also, we have lots of feedback options for parents too. So some people like paper options. So we have a box at the front of our school, parents can drop suggestions into, surveys, and things like that. But then we are always sending out links to surveys for parents and different kinds of online options. So we have lots of multiple feedback options.

Ashley Mengwasser: No wonder your school has won an award, or your system has, because you get at it from so many angles so that parents have multiple access points. What do you have to share from a district perspective, Laura?

Laura Bucio: To piggyback of what she said, Thrill Share. Thrill Share has helped us beef up our social media tremendously. We can't stalk our parents at the salon, but we can try to reach them all sorts of way, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, because social media is big now. So just beefing up our social media and having all sorts of communication tools is big with Rome City schools, trying to reach parents any way that we can. And something else that our district is doing that we are hoping to get up and running in November, hopefully. It's our Rome City School Parent Center, and it's a small building, four classrooms, small little hallway. It's a small building, but I feel like it's going to be big.

Ashley Mengwasser: Parent center.

Laura Bucio: Yes. So we have four classrooms in there. Our first classroom, we're actually going to provide laundry services or parents are going to be able to come and do their laundry there. We'll have free detergent, sheet dryers, all sorts of laundry services. We even have one of those little rolling carts that you find at the laundromat.

Ashley Mengwasser: That is so cute, yes.

Laura Bucio: We will have a clothes closet for parents and students. We also have a media room. We have computers set up in this room, so they'll be able to come in and do their resumes, work on their GD, job applications, and even check power school, keep up with their child's stories.

Ashley Mengwasser: See what their kids are doing.

Laura Bucio: Yeah, exactly. And in the same classroom, we're going to have a small lending library, because again, I love to read.

Ashley Mengwasser: Right.

Laura Bucio: Yes.

Ashley Mengwasser: Spearheaded by Laura.

Laura Bucio: And we're going to have a little section for their babies. So if they come in with smaller children, that way while they're working on their stuff, there can be a small section where the children can play.

Ashley Mengwasser: Genius. You're literally bringing parents into the school system.

Laura Bucio: Yes, exactly.

Ashley Mengwasser: You have a place for them.

Laura Bucio: And it's a big need in our community.

Ashley Mengwasser: That's really, really smart. I love that idea. Your district's population we've talked about is high diversity, it's multilingual. And what other ways are you meeting the needs of all families? I know that your Spanish-speaking population is coming to you, Laura.

Laura Bucio: Yes. They're coming to me, but the schools also have plenty of school staff that speaks also Spanish. We do also use School Status. And the awesome thing about School Status is that the parents select the native language that they speak. So the teachers send a text message in English, but the parent receives it in their native language.

Ashley Mengwasser: In their language. Oh, that's great. Yeah, School Status.

Laura Bucio: And it's like receiving a text message, so it's not something they have to download. So they feel like they're having that instant communication with the teacher, which we all love.

Ashley Mengwasser: Yes. Who doesn't love texting these days? It's the primary mode of communication.

Laura Bucio: We also have plenty of signs set out at school in English and Spanish and any resources we send out, we send in both languages, even other languages that are not Spanish.

Ashley Mengwasser: Excellent. Okay. And how would you say that engaging these families has improved your overall school climate at the elementary school?

Nikki Huckaby: Well, I will say that our population has continued to grow. We are now adding on, I think, eight classrooms. Right now we're in the process of doing that because our numbers have gotten so high, over 900 students now pre-K through sixth grade. Yes, ma'am. And West End is consistently voted as the number one school in Rome and Floyd County by the parents. So I think that just goes to show that parents really want their children at our school.

Ashley Mengwasser: Yeah, that's people's choice. That's the people's choice vote right there.

Nikki Huckaby: And we maintain a five-star climate rating, which represents an excellent school climate by parents, students, and faculty.

Ashley Mengwasser: Congratulations.

Nikki Huckaby: Thank you.

Ashley Mengwasser: Laura, what would you say from the district standpoint, how is this improving the culture?

Laura Bucio: Well, you see the students thrive socially, emotionally, and academically. You see it in every school from the district level.

Ashley Mengwasser: That's exceptional. Do you have a story, either or both of you, of a time when a family's engagement improved the child's learning and also impacted the classroom for the better? Anybody like to share?

Nikki Huckaby: Well, last year I did have a student who was one of the lowest performing in the class and really had been a little bit of a behavior problem in the past. And so right off the bat, I did my best to form a bond, to form a relationship with the child and the parent. And I would on a weekly basis reach out and say, "He is just so respectful, amazing manners. What a role model in the classroom." And I would try to send something positive every single week. And we just developed a really good relationship. And by the end of the year, I mean he was no longer a behavior problem. The mom, I remember calling one day to tell her how great he had been doing in class, and she said when she picked up the phone, "Wow, you were calling to tell me something positive. At the school he was at before, it just was never like that. When somebody called, I just knew something was wrong."

Ashley Mengwasser: It felt like bad news. Yeah.

Nikki Huckaby: Yes. So it just goes to show you how much of an impact a positive phone call or text can make to a parent. They want to hear more positive than negative, and we need to share more positive than negative. It can make a huge difference in a child's education. And now still at dismissal, he hugs me almost every day and I asked him before the break, before fall break, I said, "What are you going to do over the break?" And he said, "I'm going to study." And it just melted my heart a little bit.

Ashley Mengwasser: And you also had a student whose father became very engaged with the school?

Nikki Huckaby: We're in the process of getting recertified for STEM right now. We had a fifth grade dad who had a garden shop in Rome. Our fifth graders were learning about erosion so that had to do with part of their STEM project. He came out, taught the kids how to plant certain things, what types of materials to use to help prevent erosion. And so I mean, that's what we do at West End. We pull our parents into the building, we let them help out with school events, family nights, you name it. We try to involve them.

Ashley Mengwasser: Their life experiences can produce learning opportunities.

Nikki Huckaby: That's right.

Ashley Mengwasser: That's really nice. Laura, what would you say? Is there a family engagement story that you think really shows how well this works?

Laura Bucio: I think of myself. I know that's odd because you think of other students, but I think of myself in this situation. My family immigrated here shortly before my kindergarten year, and so I had no knowledge of the English language. My parents' English was also limited, so they were just as lost as I was. And so my dad with broken English approached my teacher and said, "How can I help her because she's going to struggle. She's going to have to work a lot harder than a student that knows English." And so I have a very vivid memory of us visiting a thrift store, small thrift store near our home back then where we lived, and my dad purchasing all the books.

Nikki Huckaby: Oh, my gosh.

Laura Bucio: All the children’s books that he could find, even some coloring books that were used coloring books. So I have memories of my dad trying to read while I colored. And that's because the teacher told him to read, read, read. And I feel that ultimately he became the bridge between my school life and our family life. And that's what helped not only overcome my English barrier, but also thrive in elementary, middle, and high.

Ashley Mengwasser: And look at how fundamental that experience was for you. You now engage other families in a school system and your dad would be so proud of your long reading list. Does he know about it?

Laura Bucio: Oh, for sure.

Ashley Mengwasser: Okay. Thanks for sharing that story, Laura. That was awesome. I know that our teachers and our district leaders who are listening will be already spit balling creative ways that they can build a positive learning environment in their systems where families are truly engaged with their child's learning. What is the most important thing about partnering with families to keep in mind?

Nikki Huckaby: Well, I will say, communicate early and often. Our principal has said that from the get-go. Right away when the school year starts, positive communication early and often just to show those parents that you do care, you do want them involved. You do see them as a partner. So that's the first thing I would say. Don't be afraid to reach out and start forming a relationship with those families. I would also say a smile goes a long way. When you walk into, or when parents come into the building, smile, greet them, welcome them. That can just make such a huge difference in the atmosphere at your school, in your classroom, how welcomed they feel.

Ashley Mengwasser: Well said, Nikki. Laura, what's the most important thing?

Laura Bucio: Yeah, definitely prioritize building strong relationships with your students' families from the very beginning and maybe even shifting how you view parents. Instead of viewing them from a deficit lens, maybe start viewing them as an asset for student achievement. And I think when you start viewing them as asset, it changes your whole perspective and you start to use them to help the student achieve.

Ashley Mengwasser: That is the distinction. I love it very much. So from both of you, how involved should teachers be with families? This is the last question I have. Is this a daily practice? A weekly one? And what's the contribution for an educator in hours? Because we know that our teachers are busy. How much time and diligence does this practice take, family engagement?

Nikki Huckaby: It's purposeful. You do have to be diligent and I have set myself a reminder. Every afternoon I reach out to at least two to three parents and say something positive. And our principal expects that we reach out and communicate positively one phone call to every single parent before the end of October every year. I feel like just reaching out daily just to a few parents can make a huge difference. And that can actually help you remember to do it because you do get so busy. You have a thousand things at the end of the day to do and to prepare for the next day. But if you sit down right after the students go home and message or call through a program like School Status, it's more purposeful and you will make sure that you get it done if you see that as something that's important.

Ashley Mengwasser: Right. With any goal, if you want to succeed, Nikki, it sounds like you take it piece by piece. You don't have to talk to everybody on the same day, just a few a day. Make those meaningful connections. What do you have to share with us, Laura?

Laura Bucio: Yeah, it's definitely an everyday, daily thing and it's throughout the entire year. Even if it's at the end of the year and you feel like you finally reached that parent, you finally, whether it's involved or whether you got the very involved parent to now be engaged, it's a whole year process.

Ashley Mengwasser: Thank you both so much for being here today and sharing all of this wisdom.

Nikki Huckaby: You're so welcome.

Laura Bucio: Yes, this is fun. Thank you for having us.

Ashley Mengwasser: Rome City Schools, you guys. So lucky to have you both. And there you have it, audience, reasons why two is better than one when families and schools link up for student success. I'm a superstitious woman. So as to ensure your union starts off on the right foot, let's borrow a piece of tradition. How about something borrowed, that can be Laura and Nikki's wisdom today. Then we need something blue. How about extending some of those personal invitations to families? Reach out, be the little blue dot in their message inbox. Something old, in 10 spare minutes why not go online and search for Joyce Epstein's framework of six types of involvement, maybe from the 1990s. But one framework is this, hint, hint, parental involvement, still relevant today even though it's been adapted over the years. And here's our something new. Well, that's a tribute to you being so original. Work up your own creative way to engage families in your classroom. You're a great teacher. After this brief ceremony, no need to wear a ring, but teachers, families, allies, and education, that sentence has a nice ring to it. I'm Ashley, thank you for engaging with our content. I vow to bring you more next week on Classroom Conversations. Bye-Bye. Funding for Classroom Conversations is made possible through the School Climate Transformation Grant.