Dear ACEs in Education Community:

I'm wondering if anyone has worked ACEs-related language into a School Council School Improvement Plan? I'm on the School Council for a charter school and we're looking at improving parent engagement., in general, and as part of that I'm trying to introduce two topics:

1) ACEs and 2)Race, Class & Parent Involvement 

We have kids from 30 different communities and 1/3 of the students are Haitian. The other 2/3 are mostly but not entirely Caucasian. Anyhow, some kids take a bus, many are driven to/from by parents. The income and race of communities from sending towns varies widely and so, as a school, there's a lot of income disparity as well and differences in adverse community experiences in and out of the school. We know that kids and families are all dealing with ACEs (the presence or absence and the challenges or protections) and so I want to address both issues - but can't ignore that the entire school council Principal, teachers, assistant principals, parents, and students are all white, except for my daughter, who is Asian. 

To complicate matters, as someone with a high ACE score myself, I've not always been a joiner and not always willing to do the work to help a system change. I've more been the one who eye rolls, thinks the system doesn't get it, and just doesn't engage. But I have a kid in the school and schools transformed my childhood. I know schools can be sanctuaries for kids, all kids, even when they are imperfect. And part of being part of this ACEs community has taught me that those of us who have ever felt marginalized, or not represented, whether we still do or not, are actually essential, required, and have input that is valuable - not only in speaking for ourselves but in speaking to why other people won't and don't engage for reasons that are not only lack of interest, passion or caring.  

But I'm kind of green to how schools and school councils work and in being a team player (working on it every day). I know I'll have better success if I can share some success and examples of things done well at other places, or at least being explored.  Has anyone some success in this arena or any ideas or resources or experiences to share in comments or privately? 

Here, I'm asking as Cissy who is a mother and part of a school community more than anything. I appreciate any feedback and will ask on the main ACEs page as well as in Parenting with ACEs. But because I also work here, I'll share and consolidate whatever I do learn. 

Thanks everyone!!

@Melissa Sadin @Emily Read Daniels @Drew Schwartz@Lara Kain (ACEs Connection Staff) and anyone/everyone who knows about school, ACEs, inclusion, diversity and ways of making change that include parents and School Councils, please share.  

Original Post

@Cissy White  You're the best.  I love that you are so boldly putting it out there!   

To begin with, you know that your question is laden with like 10,000 $1,000,000 questions.  You may be new to this arena, but you're a quick study, so of course you have all the questions everyone in education has been grappling with for eternity:

- How to include ALL VOICES?
- How to bridge PTAs mission with the broader school community?
- How to engage parents with busy lives, distance, etc?  And for what purpose?
- How to diminish inequities potentially inherent in income, racial, cultural differences?

For starters, I think you may want to Simon Sinek this one with your fellow school council members.

WHY?  What are you wanting to accomplish and WHY?  Is your desire to share ACES information shared by a majority on the council?  If so, for what purpose?  Are you looking to have parents find one another for support with these ACES experiences?  How might it look for parents that are actively living ACES? Are you hoping to bring trauma-informed principles into the school via the parent's voice?

A lot of people are going to tell you, "do a needs assessment; survey people."  I say, slow down, titrate, give space and time, start what may be a very meaningful conversation with your fellow council members.  Truthfully, these conversations are where the healing can begin - for all.

If you have already had this conversation with your fellow council members and you are in agreement about your shared desire to bring ACES science/information to the parent community, begin with your next set of questions.  Why?  For what purpose?  What do you hope to accomplish?  What format/vehicle will most likely help you accomplish what you set out to do?  How might you spread the word?  What's your social network within the council?  Who do they know and who knows that person that might help you bring in folks on the periphery of the school's social network?

You know this stuff is my wheelhouse.  You know I am eternally indebted to you.  I will help you...whatever you decide to do with moving this forward, I am happy to be whispering in your ear or standing by your side.  

You go, girl!  Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Slow...and KEEP IT REAL!  XO, Em



Last edited by Emily Read Daniels


THANK YOU so much! I had the meeting and just love your patient and wise approach.  First, I'm glad there's not a million known and obvious things because it's a reminder that it's a process to work through and relationship-building is important.  Somehow, oddly, that's a relief. 

I will admit I also thought survey/assess but also that we should try to find parent/teacher teams from other schools that have AWESOME parent engagement and just see if there are things we can copy or attempt while also addressing what we've not done well regarding parent engagement.

YOU OWE ME NOTHING. You, bringing you to this space, IS THE GIFT. It is needed and appreciated and important. Thanks for sharing your experiences and wheelhouse! It has helped! 

P.S. Remembering the "why" of it is especially helpful... the kind of obvious thing that is often overlooked and I know that and almost did it myself. SO THANK YOU!!!

Hello Cissy,

Congratulations for stepping up with your daughter on the School Council!

For starters, a lot of times the way the Council works and a desire to be a team player are the β€˜systemic problems’ we hear so much about and some of the highest hurdles to overcome. I encourage you to learn the School Council’s approvedβ€˜Bylaws/Rules of Order’  inside and out if you want to be fair, win some debates, and create lasting changes in school policy.

With that being said,'Robert’s Rules of Order'  is the most common parliamentary authority manual in America. It’s approved for most School Boards, City/County Commissions, and State level Councils. If approved, the Chair should always have a copy at the meeting for reference.  If they’re not approved, it’s always considered very persuasive based on fairness. You can also request a'point of order'  during the meeting.

You might want to start by locating the current edition (your library may have one) and please try to read it from cover to cover; it’s worth the extra effort!

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and do some of the work [before] the other folks can see the picture in the puzzle or the puzzle in the picture, whichever the case may be.

I’ve seen way too many well intentioned people get silenced without getting a legitimate answer to their questions because there was no pending motion on the floor that has to be answered before moving on.

If you and your daughter are both voting members of the School Council, please consider getting your issues (questions) on the agenda. Then you both can alternate β€˜making a motion’ and β€˜seconding that motion’  so the entire Council will have to formally vote on the answer to your 'pending question’.  The outcome of the vote will then have to be published in the meeting minutes.

"A good answer always starts with a good question".

Much like the U.S. House Resolution 443 that passed recently; preliminary debates have to be won first and then we can move on to what should be done next.

For some, "They will start to see the light, only when they begin to feel the heat."

Good Luck to you and your daughter on the School Council!!!

James Gallant, Marquette County Suicide Prevention Coalition


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