As she walked across the illuminated tunnels at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Elia Morales was in awe. She had always been passionate about art, but never had the opportunity to visit the museum, until she participated in a tour with Spring Branch ISD.
Morales is a Spring Forest Middle School parent and part of the SBISD Title I School Parent Advisory Council (PAC). The Title I PAC supports the role of parents and families with the school as equal partners in their children’s education. Its primary goal is to create opportunities to empower and inspire parents to help their children achieve educational goals.
Through a guided tour in May, more than 30 PAC members learned about artists and their pieces. The museum docent asked attendees what they felt when they saw the pieces and encouraged discussions among the group. Parents were also instructed to think about what their students would take away from the art and how they would guide them through the art discussions.
“Many of our families have never been to the Museum District! Through this field trip they saw the variety of activities that are available for their students,” said Betsabeth Beyk, SBISD Family Education, Engagement and Empowerment (E3) specialist. “It allows parents to connect what their students learn in the classroom to real-life experiences, while also promoting family bonding.”
The SBISD Family E3 Framework affirms the critical role parents, families and community play as partners in the education of Every Child. Family E3 asserts SBISD’s commitment to and responsibility for a sustained, strategic emphasis on serving and supporting all families.
At the end of the tour, attendees were encouraged to return to the museum, but this time with their children. They received three free museum passes, allowing four attendees each, and were given worksheets to collaborate with their students on during their time at the museum. Parents were also informed about various activities the museum offers and how they can seek additional information.
Parents were thrilled to have attended and excited to return to share all they learned with their children.
“I am very grateful to have been part of this experience!” said Morales. “Many times we don’t take the time to engage our children in these activities, but they are very beneficial for their development outside of the classroom.”
In April, Title I PAC members also visited the University of Houston and toured the campus, heard about financial aid, admissions, majors offered and more.
The trip kicked off at the university’s Welcome Center, where they heard from students about their college experience. Parents had the opportunity to ask questions about the process and take notes to later share with their students. They visited the dormitories, library, career center and colleges including the C.T. Bauer College of Business and the Cullen College of Engineering.
Parents from elementary through high school attended, as it was actively emphasized that it is never too early to begin planning for post-graduation.
“It was important for me to attend this visit because I wanted to see the dynamic of the university and what kind of lifestyle my student would be living,” said Ana Serrano, an Edgewood Elementary parent. “I don’t want him to figure everything out by himself, I want to have the tools to help him when the time comes.”
Attendees were given a worksheet with questions to answer throughout their tour. They were engaged and excited to listen to all the different experiences the university offers to students.
Tour guides across MFAH and the University of Houston emphasized that it was the first time they gave a tour to a group of only parents. They were excited to involve parents and give them the necessary tools to engage with their children.
“It was rewarding to see how happy our parents were to visit and learn about the various opportunities available for their children,” said Leticia Verdinez, SBISD Family E3 facilitator. “These field trips are great opportunities for our families to gain the exposure necessary to help their students become T-2-4 Ready Graduates.”
For more information, contact the Family E3 team at FamilyE3@springbranchisd.com