Parker-Hill connecting classrooms with families
By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY – As the Green Bay Area Public School District (GBAPSD) Family Engagement Coordinator, Ingrid Parker-Hill said her job centers around bringing families closer to the schools their children attend, and better connect a student’s family to what’s happening in a student’s school life.
“Family involvement is absolutely necessary,” Parker-Hill said.
Recently, those efforts were highlighted as Hill was named a 2022 Woman of Influence in the New North Region by Insight Publications.
Bridging a gap
Parker-Hill began her tenure with GBAPSD in 2015 and said the task of connecting educators and staff to the families their students go home to is monumentally important.
“It’s 150% vital,” she said. “I’m on my second series of children, my husband and I have raised four children here that have gone through the system and now we have grandchildren. Our peace of mind is absolutely necessary, because we know our children best. We are their first teachers. We have to be a part of this, we’re a team.”
Parker-Hill said sometimes it’s the families who reach out to her office, other times it’s a school in the district needing help reaching out to a family in the interest of one of its students.
“We’re liaisons,” she said. “Helping parents and families, and our schools, to navigate some of those things that might be getting miscommunicated or misunderstood. We try to help the families feel like they connect and that they belong. That they’re a value to the school.”
Parker-Hill said she also helps teachers and staff be mindful of cultural differences when in the classroom.
“There are five of us on our team, and I like to say that we work on a spectrum,” she said. “We try to work with our educators on how to be culturally responsive, because our demographics have changed tremendously over the years. Everybody’s on a journey, a different journey. Some of our educators might have never left Wisconsin. What does that look like today when we have so many students from places like Mexico and Somalia?”
Parker-Hill said understanding cultural differences can help teachers and staff have a better understanding of a students perspective, putting them in a better position to provide the student all they need during their time with GBAPSD.
“Everyone’s experience is their own, so we try to help guide that in a healthy way,” she said of districtwide efforts to broaden the cultural understanding of all employees. “We do some professional development as well, and in the middle of that spectrum, we look for cultural opportunities for our students to help them see themselves in a world that sometimes does not see them in the way that they should be seen.”
Bolstering student success
Parker-Hill said she believes the more involvement between educators and families, the more efficient the school can be at identifying issues like attendance, for example, and figuring out solutions.
She said it’s her job to make sure that’s what’s happening.
“Let’s figure out how we can problem solve, together, to help the kids,” Parker-Hill said. “It’s never one-size fits all. There’s no pixie dust. It’s building relationships and letting people know that we care, that there’s somebody at their child’s school who cares.”
“I believe that parent involvement, engagement across the board from cradle to career, as many say, is essential, but it never looks the same,” Parker-Hill said. “Sometimes, it’s not easy for families to be a non-traditional presence in a child’s school life. Not everybody has a two-parent home or is experiencing the same things at home. It’s our job to make those communication lines as open as possible.”
A luncheon to honor Parker-Hill’s award as a 2022 Woman of Influence locally for the recognition is in the works for August 2.