This past week, I was able to go LIVE on my social media platforms and talk with an educator hero of mine, Laura Gilchrist. Laura and I became friends from Twitter about three years ago and it was during a Twitter exchange we found out we were from the same city and state and my cousin graduated with her! Since then, we’ve connected on Facebook and have other friends in common. And while that’s amazing and makes me think we live in a small world, the coolest thing about my friend is her advocacy. After spending more than 20 years in the classroom, she is now a full time educator consultant and works with an organization called ParentCamp, where she helps connect families, schools, and communities.
Connecting these three entities has always been important to me as a public school educator and as a parent advocate. ParentCamps are in 38 of our states and is free to anyone who wants to learn more about being connected. Since the pandemic has shut down our public schools, they have gone virtual! Their work was not canceled! They are still working hard to connect because, as Laura put it, “Without connection, there is no collaboration.” We need each other. Our students need for their families, schools, and communities to be connected so we can educate “whole” children and they see themselves living out the lives they choose to live while feeling empowered to share their voices and abilties with the world.
Without connection, there is no collaboration.Laura Gilchrist, Education Consultant & Parent/Family Advocate
When Laura talks about ParentCamp, you can feel her excitement and passion. When she talks about tearing down the old way of parent engagement, where we managed parents, and explains how a new system connects us and transforms our community, I couldn’t help but get excited!! She talks about how communities, schools, and parents problem solve TOGETHER to face the needs and challenges that are unique to their area, and I think to myself, “This is what it’s supposed to be about.”
Most of us love and support public schooling, even though we also know that it needs an overhaul to really grow ALL of our students. So if you find yourself invested because you are a parent, educator, community member, or all three, ParentCamp has found a way to help us tackle the challenges we face, together. I don’t mean for this to sound like a fairy tale because the work in front of us for equity, restorative practices, and remote learning/teaching are huge. It will take the whole village, and that’s what the work is all about. No one group should be shouldering the burden that affects each of us. Only together, can we find a way to transform a community.
Are you as excited as me? Sign up at parentcamp.org and let’s get going! They are offering virtual webinars over the next few weeks and my hope is that you will feel empowered to help bring about the change your community needs.