Kennedy's New Approach to an Open House

September 18, 2017 09:25 AM

On Monday, September 18 at 6:30-8:30 pm, Kennedy launches a new approach to engaging students and families with the school while connecting them with community, college, and career resources.

How is this different? Kennedy’s Open House has always been an informal evening for families to meet teachers. At this time, teachers typically share general information about courses: curriculum, expectations, schedules, grading practices, etc. It gives everyone a chance to match a face with a name and helps families know a little more the student’s school day. However, this year the event will include information booths with representatives from 29 community programs, resources, and organizations.

“We received an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ from everyone we invited. People really want to come together to embrace new ideas, give something unusual a shot, and be here for the students,” said organizer Jenny Wagner. “All these representatives took time out of their schedule to meet with us and plan their part. We asked a simple question and the collaboration has been unbelievable.”

In addition to information booths throughout the school, eight presentations are scheduled in the Black Box and auditorium during the two-hour event. Topics include Signs and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety, Preparing for the Financial Realities of College, and Social Media Awareness for Parents and Teens.

“All in all, families can come to meet teachers, stop and talk with a few people in the hallway to discover the incredible resources right here in our community, and squeeze in some specific learning opportunities by attending a couple presentations,” said Wagner.  

This new approach to Open House is the result of efforts by a Learning Supports Team which visited six schools in the Des Moines Public Schools area last year to learn more about their implementation of Iowa’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). Wagner noted that one principal they met “really emphasizes the community in her community school district and has organized many services to be provided right in the building.”

Wagner adds, “I wanted our building to bring our students, families, staff, and community support together all in one place at the same time. We can’t teach students without help from the family, and we can’t prepare students for their future without the support of those community programs who are ready to engage once a student receives a diploma. We also recognize that if students wait until the day after graduation to develop a plan, we have lost valuable time in helping get things set up in their favor (internships, relevant electives, academy courses, volunteer experiences).”

One hope is that this approach to Open House provides all families with access to resources which can benefit all students.

Click here for a full schedule of events.

For more information on Iowa’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports, visit here


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