Parent Liaisons Empower Families through Education

This post was written by Jackie Cyriac, Title I Parent Liaison, Westwood Learning Community. Learn more about RRISD Parent Programs at our website:

Connect with Jackie on Twitter: @jackieRRISD

“You are protectors of democracy.”

When I headed to our RRISD Kick-Off that afternoon, I had no idea that this phrase from keynote speaker, Kevin Brown, Executive Director of  Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), would define my role as a Parent Liaison on the Parent Programs team within RRISD State & Federal Programs.  And while I don’t go around outwardly describing the work we do with such grandeur, my heart knows the truth of Mr. Brown’s words.

As one of several Parent Liaisons across RRISD, we each serve our Learning Communities by providing support to families.  We empower families by helping them access resources and also providing free learning opportunities. Our classes fall under the banner of “Parent University.”  We actively seek out parents for classes, often collaborating with teachers and staff for referrals. Why? Because we believe in the power of the home-school connection. We believe that when we empower families through education, we have the power to change the trajectory of that family for the better.  Simon Sinek, author and leadership expert, drives home the point, “What you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.”  When you believe that partnering with families supports student achievement, the results show.

Supporting families through our role as Parent Liaisons often goes beyond providing resources and classes. As the amazing teachers in our District already know, working in education some days is akin to being professional smilers, huggers, and listeners.  These are aspects of our job I don’t take lightly. When we act with kindness and empathy, we are taking intentional steps towards protecting our democracy against isolation and separatism. At the start of this school year, for example, two nervous dads arrived at Anderson Mill Elementary School in the morning without any children with them.  They explained that this was the first time they had ever sent their little PK students on the bus. They wanted to see with their own eyes that the bus made it to school! In their home country of India, they told me, there is no concept of bussing children to school. And if a parent has no frame of reference for such things, it can be really scary!  It was a happy moment for me, standing alongside those gentlemen, witnessing the look of relief and delight on their faces when they saw their PK students arrive on campus safe and sound.

The work of Parent Liaisons in our Learning Communities is one piece of a bigger puzzle within our District to ‘include all, invest in growth and inspire action.”  As a District, this commitment requires us to examine whether our rules and processes match our values. And when those rules are inconsistent with our values, it requires that we ask hard questions that eventually lead to authentic problem-solving. Parent Liaisons, like the rest of the staff on campus, are living, breathing examples of RRISD’s belief that all children deserve a world-class education.  For us, it’s more than a job; it’s a mission.

The State & Federal Programs Dept. at the RRISD Kick-Off loud and proud in their orange shirts.


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