Program Profile: The Family Schools, Inc. in Brewster, Massachusetts
NAEYC’s Engaging Diverse Families Project
The Family Schools, Inc. has deep roots in its rural Cape Cod community.
Galazzi and cofounders Carolyn O’Leary and Kim Lockwood define families as “those who are committed to a child over their lifetime. They may or may not share the same roof or country. Family members may be of any gender or age or role.” The leaders are open minded and accepting of all children and families. Galazzi explains, “Families are wonderfully diverse these days, and they need all the love, recognition, and support they can get. Our school does everything possible to endorse and support families and as little as possible to divide and criticize. We listen carefully to children and families and make no assumptions about with whom a child lives, who they love, and who loves them. Children are really pretty clear about this. We try to keep up!”
Family Engagement Program Practices
Family Participation in Decision Making
Learning Activities at Home and in the Community
A Comprehensive Program-Level System
Galazzi says, “Faculty are trained and highly skilled at remaining alert to all the cues around a family and their children. These efforts result in successful family support. Evidence of the commitment to do this careful work is clear in the meaningful communication throughout the school and among all the participants. For example, one Mom shared with us that her ‘son would not have survived his birth defects were it not for the sharp observations of his teachers.’ We are grateful for this powerful work of doing, together, whatever it takes to support families. The sounds of laughter abound!”
The Family Schools’ faculty is well-supported and teacher tenure at the school averages eleven years. Staff members receive mentoring and supervision and are encouraged to make and keep plans for balancing their own health and well-being. Health program benefits may include contribution to gym membership, support of spiritual practices, paid vacation time, and responsive, immediate family leave time.
Developed for NAEYC's Engaging Diverse Families Project through a generous grant from the Picower Foundation.