Connecting Home and School

Connecting Home and School, with the Parent and Caregiver Community

By Mark Hecker OPC '99

Lysa Puma

Penn Charter’s community is diverse. Nowhere is that more evident than in the school’s Parent and Caregiver Community (PCC). In addition to diversity in racial identity and family construction, individuals voice varied opinions about instructional approaches, political preferences, communication style, espoused values and more. Sometimes it feels challenging to identify the connective tissue.

But, for PCC co-chairs Lysa Puma and Alison Grossman, that is the work. Over the last two years, that work has been particularly challenging and important. In the summer of 2020, when protest movements began building in our communities and online, PCC dialogue happened quickly. “What is going on at PC?” some asked. Others turned inward: “Did I not raise my kids right?”

Some caregivers found ways to get involved – joining task forces or participating in SEED groups – while others, although interested, were distracted by the global covid-19 pandemic. It is difficult to focus on individual and institutional improvement when basic survival feels exhausting.

That is not to say that the PCC stood still. Even the community’s name – a shift from the Parent Community to the Parent and Caregiver Community – reflects intentionality in Grossman and Puma’s leadership. “We wanted to be as inclusive as possible,” they said, “and it seemed to better reflect the realities of family construction in our community.” 

Alison Grossman

Additionally, teachers have made changes to their curricula, the task forces have worked to center student voices, and administrators have changed the way they communicate about incidents at school. Work is happening every day.

But Puma and Grossman recognize that, as covid ebbs, they have an opportunity to encourage the PCC to re-center conversations about equity and inclusion. As these important discussions continue, we will need to find ways for the PCC; administration, faculty and staff; students; and the board to come together to co-create a path forward so we might together support the learning that happens at PC, both inside and outside the classroom.

As a first step, members of the Gender Equity, Sexuality & Consent Task Force’s Communications Working Group will be at the next PCC meeting, on Friday, Feb. 4 at 9 a.m. (via Zoom) to hear the thoughts of parents and caregivers related to communication and collaboration between parents and teachers. Together, we can work to strengthen the partnership between classroom and home.