Family Engagement Success

This edition of the Family Engagement Blog comes from Judy Murray, Family Engagement Specialist in Clay County. 

I love working with my Clay County families.  Mr. and Mrs. B. and great-grandson are one of those families who, after attending one program, keep coming back.  Mrs. B. is a wonderful lady.  She is sweet, kind and soft spoken.   Just imagine what you think a great-grandmother in rural Kentucky would look like.  She has long gray hair in a bun, wears long dresses and very sturdy shoes. Mrs. B. and her great-grandson participated in the “FAST” program (Families and Schools Together).  FAST is an eight-week program that builds relationships within families and the relationship between families and schools.  Each night ends with a “lottery” prize winner and that winner must bring dessert the next week.  Mrs. B.’s great-grandson, a 3rd grader, loved the program.  He was always so excited during the program.  He was polite, took care of his grandmother and followed the rules.  He simply couldn’t wait to win the lottery.

They attended the first six sessions, but on the 7th night when they didn’t show up I was devastated. The grandson had not won the lottery and I knew how much he wanted to.  I made a phone call to them the next day.  Mrs. B. had fallen and broken her ankle.  I asked about her husband and if it would be possible for him to bring his great grandson.  She said Mr. B. thought the program was for women and children and had refused to come.

On the 8th night I was so hoping for this family to make it. Everyone arrived and we began the program with our meal.  Five minutes later Mr. and Mrs. B. (in wheelchair) and great-grandson arrived. Guess who won the lottery that night. You bet! The B. family.

Since then Great-grandmother and grandfather have joined our “Grandparents Raising Grand Children Support Group. “ They love just having time to talk with other people who have this common bond.

Before coming to live with them, their great-grandson had bounced from one foster home to another.  They say now he will always be secure with them.   Not long ago the great-grandson said, “Grandpa, someday this will be all mine.”  His grandpa replied “Yes, son, it will.”  This couple has invested their time and energy into their great-grandchild and his future already looks brighter.

Judy Murray joined the Berea College Promise Neighborhood in 2012 as a Family Engagement Specialist. After graduating from Eastern Kentucky University with a social work degree, she went on to obtain a degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in learning and behavioral disorders. She was hired in the Clay County Public School District as a social worker and later as a special education teacher. Her passion is working with students and their families. Along with her teaching duties, she also sponsored the BETA Club at the high school level, coached cheerleaders, and was involved in the PTA and the 4-H Club. Judy resides in Clay County, KY with her husband of 35 years, David. They have 5 adopted children: Steve and Emma from Korea, Mailee and Kylee from China, and John from Bolivia. They also have two handsome grandchildren: Connor and Rylan.

The Makings of Parent Involvement

This edition of the Family Engagement Blog comes from Kimberly Beatty, Family Engagement Specialist for Madison Central High School.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”—Martin Luther King Jr.

Family Engagement is not an easy task. My biggest challenge has been brainstorming. “What are parents interested in?” “What will get parents to come out?” I’ve had some success in parent participation, and I’ve come to accept that some is better than none.

As of right now, I can say that I’m excited about the Family College Tours planned for spring break. With the help of Georgia Parks from the Richmond Teen Center and Berea College PartnerCorps member Chassity Wengert, parents have been calling and are ready to attend! Through this experience, I’ve learned that relationship building is important!

Group one will visit historically black colleges and universities in Tennessee and Kentucky, including Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, Kentucky State University, and Tennessee State University. Group two will visit Northern Kentucky University and the University of Cincinnati. In addition to the tours, we have family activities planned to provide time for families to bond!

I’m excited, students are excited, parents are excited, Georgia is excited and Chassity is excited! A parent called and stated “This is motivation for my child, and I like it.”

Kimberly Beatty has been working with parents since 2005. After working in childcare, she became an adoption assistant for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. She then became the parenting program coordinator at the Nest: Center for Women, Children & Families. She earned her bachelor’s degree in public administration from Kentucky State University and her master’s in counseling and human development from Lindsey Wilson College. She connects to her current work because her passion is being able to help others in a positive way and seeing families excited about making changes and eager to learn more about resources in the community to benefit the family.