CHEYENNE – What could be more important to school success than a student’s IQ? According to the research, it’s parental support.
Armed with this fact and funding provided through a federal Title IV grant, Laramie County School District 1 is offering a new service for families.
The PEEPS (Parent Engagement and Educational Partnership with Schools) center opened this school year at 2811 House Ave., North Door 4.
“It really began with some conversations and recognizing that our work is really at its best when we’re partnering with families,” said LCSD1 Director of Instruction Steve Newton. “Our goal is to coordinate resources both in our district and within our community and reach out to families who need us.”
PEEPS Parent Engagement Facilitators Nicole George and Laura Fowler explained they work to bring families, educators and community partners together to support academic success and the healthy development of students.
Since the program is new, they spent the summer meeting with agencies and individuals throughout Cheyenne. This will help them link families to the services they need.
“We’re not here to provide the service, we’re here to get them connected to all the great resources we have in our community,” George said. “We will help families support their kids in whatever capacity they might need.”
From after-school activities to housing and food pantries, PEEPS is available to connect families with the resources they need. Fowler and George explained they will do everything from helping parents fill out school paperwork to assisting them with their understanding of policies and procedures. They said they will make phone calls on parents’ behalf and help in any way they can.
“Our slogan is ‘if we can’t help you, we’ll find someone who will,’” Fowler said.
“We recognize there is a tremendous group of organizations and people in our community who are committed to helping people,” Newton said.
“One of the realizations that we had in creating PEEPS is that we know the families and the organizations know the services, but do they know each other?
“Nicole and Laura will be plugging families’ needs together with the wonderful resources in our community,” he said. “They will also be teaching ‘Parenting with Love and Logic’ classes.”
Fowler said she and George have been teaching these classes for the past several years. Prior to joining PEEPS, George served as the social worker at Fairview/Lebhart Elementary. A 35-year education veteran, Fowler was the music teacher at Cole Elementary and is a certified instructor for Ruby Payne’s Framework for Understanding Poverty and Eric Jensen’s Teaching with Poverty in Mind.
“‘Love and Logic’ is an approach to parenting where you hold the child accountable, but in a loving way,” Fowler said. “It’s a six-week course designed to provide parents with these tools.”
George said they will teach various “Love and Logic” parenting courses at the PEEPS center and possibly at schools throughout the district. Along with the training area, and computers available for parent use, the center is designed to be a comfortable, welcoming place for parents from throughout the district to gather, have conversations and learn.
“We advocate for families,” George said. “Our goal is to give parents a voice and get them involved. Research shows involved parents help increase student test scores and kids do better in many respects.”
This summer, George and Fowler spent time training at the National Family and Community Engagement Conference, as well as making a site visit to Vancouver, Washington, to observe multiple engagement centers in action.
“This is being done all over the country,” Fowler said. “A lot of districts have these facilities in every school building.”
“I think the fact that the federal government is setting aside money for things like this is evidence that they recognize the problems we’re facing are more complex than ever before,” Newton said.
George said she looks forward to working with families, supporting them and seeing them grow.
“I’m so excited,” Fowler said. “When you help one family, that feeling is unbelievable, and you know you’ve made a difference in their lives.”