June 2020
Vol. 1

Lights! Camera! Welcoming Schools in Action!

by: Demone Gunter

Card image cap

Have you experienced a welcoming atmosphere in action at your school? If so, you may have observed a school that:

• Provides exceptional customer service and public relation skills.

• Has a front office and school staff that exemplifies a positive attitude.

• Offers curbside and outside enthusiasm and support.

• Creates a feeling of warmth and acceptance.

• Showcases student work, parent resources, seasonal displays and/or decor.

• Has a clean physical surrounding/environment in and outside of the school.

Schools that spotlight and highlight these actions demonstrate an overall family friendly school. The schools in our district strive to show you a snapshot of these picture-perfect welcoming actions.

Why a Welcoming Atmosphere Matters? Imagine walking into an unfamiliar place and no one offers to show you around. How would you feel? The first few minutes in a school gives you important clues about its atmosphere. You may wonder, is this a place that welcomes visitors and guests? Moreover, is everyone too preoccupied to lend a helping hand? These are questions you may have asked yourself previously.

If you feel as if your school is lacking “social graces”, your school may need just a little attention to certain details. These details will separate a welcoming school from an intimidating school. Creating a welcoming environment will increase the development of parent-school relationships. Positive parent-school relationships are important during these tough educational challenges that we are currently facing.

The need for openness is critical in schools with diverse cultures. If we, as educators, can create a trusting rapport with parents at the beginning of the school year, parents will trust and incorporate learning within their homes and their community. Moreover, parents will be an ally/partner during difficult times and assist in the solving of obstacles and complications.

When parents do not feel connected to the school that their child(ren) are attending, communicating may become difficult. When parents and educators share in a lack of understanding, this absence of clarity has the potential to lead to feelings of frustration and hopelessness. As educators, we should develop and continue to increase parent partnerships, by creating welcoming schools. The biggest payoff for a welcoming school is a win-win partnership for our students and parents. Once we conquer welcoming schools, we will see an improvement in our community.

For information regarding Lights! Camera! Welcoming Schools in Action!, please contact Demone Gunter at
Demone _Gunter@dekalbschoolsga.org


GED PROGRAM - Opens Doors to Opportunities

“A Program with a Purpose”

by: Narva Dunlap

Dekalb GED program

The purpose of the district’s GED Program is to educate, empower, and engage parents through opportunities provided by DeKalb County School District and community collaborators. The GED Program gives parents impactful resources that will help improve or enhance their personal and professional growth and development. This FREE program offers profound life-changing support that will assist adult learners with achieving their academic goals as well as career and college readiness skills.

Obtaining a GED provides parents in the district opportunities that include support to:

• Enroll in postsecondary educational programs.

• Obtain job training skills | certifications.

• Earn workforce development | advancement.

• Maintain and/or establish financial stability.

• Receive community collaborators’ resources.

• Gain knowledge that will help assist children with schoolwork.

The GED tests include the reading, writing, thinking, and problem-solving skills needed for success in postsecondary educational programs and for the world of work. Parents are encouraged to open the program’s door and take advantage of the various opportunities that are a springboard to higher education, to better paying jobs, and to rewarding career paths. Realizing that “It Takes a Village to Support our Families”, we are a community that inspires adults to be lifelong learners, empowers adults to achieve their educational goals, and celebrates adults’ accomplishments as they excel personally and professionally.

For information regarding GED Program -Opens Doors to Opportunities, please contact Narva Dunlap at

Academic Parent Teacher Team (APTT)

Bridging The Gap!

by: Stephanie Forbes

Card image cap

Bridging the educational experiences from school to home has been challenging for all. The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) enhances students’ success by forming partnerships and alliances with students, teachers, and parents in local schools. While meeting the expectations of students’ academic achievement, the Family Engagement Department is committed to engaging parents. The Department of Parent and Family Engagement in the district is excited to introduce Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT) for the 2020-2021 school year.

The purpose of the APTT is to:

• Provide academic support throughout the DeKalb County Community.

• Support families and teachers shifting from individual Parent-Teacher Conferences to Academic Parent-Teacher Teams.

• Repurpose modern parent teacher conferences that engage families.

• Model structured activities while providing student learning at home.

• Provide families with information, skills, and confidence to support student learning.

• Model a classroom-based, teacher-led, data-driven family engagement model.

As a result of partnering together, the APTT Program will assist in bridging the gap for students' academic experiences in 2020-2021 school year at your school.

For information regarding APTT (Academic Parent Teacher Team), please contact Stephanie Forbes at Stephanie_B_Forbes@dekalbschoolsga.org

Parent Advocates = Strong Leaders

by: Latonya Winters-Buford

Dekalb GED program

Parenting workshops are not just for young or inexperienced parents; they are for everyone who wants to become a better advocate and the best parent they can be. Our parent advocacy and leadership programs build on the principle of active learning, where we combine an instructional approach with an active learning model, utilizing research-based on best practices of parenting education, and lived experience. Our classes and workshops are designed to optimize learning, increase abilities, and decrease feelings of isolation; you are not alone on the parenting journey. Studies show that children become better prepared for school and personal success when parents increase their level of quality interactions with their children.

As parents, we can become more effective advocates for our children when we learn how to navigate the school system. We take the mystery out of being a parent by sharing real-life expectations, effective ways to discipline, and the best ways to prepare children for academic success in today's ever-changing world. We will discuss parenting styles, setting limits and boundaries, fostering self-esteem in our youth, supporting our students through crisis and trauma, and the importance of Self-care; It is more apparent than ever that we put the mask on ourselves first before we can help others! All of you have stepped up as teachers in the gap and showed tremendous strength leading by example. Join us as we continue to build our village, one parent, at a time! Educate, Motivate, Advocate!

For information regarding Parent Advocates = Strong Leaders, please contact Latonya Winters-Buford at

Diversity and Inclusion in Education

by: Anne Ferreira

Dekalb GED program


Schools today constitute contexts characterized by the diversity of its students, a reflection, at the same time of increasingly diverse societies. The student body today is more heterogeneous than ever in its cultural, ethnic, linguistic, class, gender composition, and capacity.

The cultural and religious perspectives of minority groups, students with special educational needs, and those who come from families with serious social and economic disparities represent a reality that shapes the overarching climate of the school.


Inclusion, in the school setting, reaches all students; which entails not excluding anyone from receiving the education to which they are entitled for reasons of justice and democracy.

When we speak of an inclusive school, we want to emphasize the importance of the conditions and capacities of the school’s organization that make possible the inclusion. Inclusivity is not settled only in the classroom, nor is it the result of actions by individuals who do admirable things in isolation; however, it is the whole (school, family, student, community...) that needs to articulate coherent and global responses to the challenges of diversity.

Family engagement is vital to an inclusive approach to school and the education. When this relationship is not cared for, when communication between the parts is minimal or even, with some, null, when real channels of participation and involvement are not activated, the families are excluded from the life of the school. The inclusive school, on the contrary, it builds bridges between teachers, students and families. Also, it generates opportunities for that they take part in the organizational life.

(Ref: REICE. Iberoamerican Magazine on Quality, Efficacy and Change in Education, Teresa Gonzalez Gonzalez)

For information regarding Diversity & Inclusion in Education, please contact Anne Ferreira at

The Threat of Family Violence and Concerns with Mental Health Rise Among Parents During Covid-19 Pandemic

by: Richard Stephens II

Dekalb GED program


Since the first case of COVID-19 in the United States, parents have found it difficult to discuss the virus and its impact on the country with their children, regardless of age. This is not a new phenomenon. Studies have shown that after major events, particularly natural disasters and outbreaks, undue mental and emotional stress is often experienced by people of all ages as they struggle with the aftermath of the event and regaining a sense of normalcy.

As a country, the trauma we face is unprecedented, but it isn't just the dangers of the outside world, sometimes it can also come from within the home. "What if mommy or daddy relapse?" "What if they become negligent parents?" "What happens if your spouse decides to express their anger through verbal and physical abuse?" Shelter-in-Place orders can sometimes serve to our detriment when our homes aren't safe. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), child abuse, and neglect are often associated with natural disasters and events that cause anxiety, stress, economic downturns, frustration, and isolation similar to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Without the "Stay-At-Home" order, family members who were at potential risk of experiencing IPV, child abuse, and or neglect could find refuge at work, home, community-based organizations, schools, churches, and institutions or agencies dedicated to the welfare and well-being of communities. However, these families are unable to escape their current circumstances due to these orders and may find it difficult to find help. Prior to the pandemic, people could stay with family members, go to shelters, attend support groups, etc. Now, government-funded resources are reallocated for other uses to combat the virus. Shelters and community centers once used to support families such as these may now be understaffed, closing down, or converting to purely electronic forms of communication despite being considered “Essential Businesses”.

There are still several ways to seek help with these issues as the state of Georgia continues to reopen. The DCSD Depservices they need during this difficult time. We are only a phone call, email, or text/direct artment of Parent and Family Engagement is focused on offering our parents the support, resources, and message away. If you find yourself in a situation under the threat or certainty of family violence, please contact us and take the following steps:

Create a list of local domestic violence shelters in your area and find out if they are accepting walk-ins

• Identify a trusted person with whom you can Shelter-in-Place if you are in imminent danger

• Communicate with trusted friends and family daily for support.

• Develop a safe word that you can use with trusted friends or family if you are in danger and need to get out quickly

• Find the safest place in your home where you can seek refuge if an argument or violence breaks out

• Always keep your cell phone handy, in case you need to call a friend, a shelter, or 911

• If you are in an emergency, call 911

For more assistance:

• DeKalb County School District Family IMPACT Hub

• Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence

• DeKalb County School District Psychological Services

• DeKalb County Community Service Board - Winn Way Mental Health Center

For information regarding The Threat of Family Violence and Concerns with Mental Health Rise Among Parents During Covid-19 Pandemic, please contact Richard Stephens II at

Our Newsletter

Thank you for visiting the  DCSD Family Engagement Newsletter. Here you will find all the information you need to stay up-to-date with current events, initiatives, resources, and supports for our parents, caregivers, and families.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the newsletter please contact:

Stephanie Valentine-Forbes:

Contact Us

DCSD Family Engagement
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd Stone Mountain, GA 30083
P: (678) 676-0384