School’s Skills Teachers Host First Ever “Skills Family Night”

On Thursday, October 16, members of the interdisciplinary Skills and AVID teams hosted the school’s first ever “Skills Night”. Teachers held this Skills Night with the intention of reaching out to the families of the students in their assisted classes after few parents attended the school-wide Back to School Night earlier in August. Over 100 people were in attendance for the event which included dinner, a round-robin information session on each skills class and environmental science classes available at the school and an AVID/college preparation presentation.

“On Back to School Night [BTSN] this year, our Skills classes had between two to five families attend each class—but at this event, we hosted over 22 families,” English and Skills teacher Elizabeth Tompkins, a primary organizer of the event, said. “We recognize that BTSN is challenging for many families to attend because of work, childcare or the fact that having translators in each room isn’t necessarily institutionalized; therefore, we wanted to take the time to reach out to our families.”

Skills Night originated from a 2B project that World Studies Skills teacher Christa Wemmer, English and Skills Teacher Jonathan Kwan and AVID teacher Jacob Larin collaborated on. 2B is a required part of the evaluation process for tenured teachers at the school.

Over the course of the night, the school’s Skills staff shared study strategies, curriculum goals and contact information with the families of the students. Many teachers were able to engage in one-on-one conversations with the parents.

“We recognize that we are a team with our students’ families, and that together, we can help narrow the achievement gap and really support our students,” Tompkins said. “Our hope is that this event will inspire more frequent communication between parents and our team of teachers throughout the school year.”

The event also allowed for staff members to reinforce their relationships with their students’ families and better understand students’ home lives.

“[Skills Night] allows us to have a more accurate picture of who our students are, where they are coming from and how we can best support them,” Earth Science teacher Trina Lee said.

This year, the science department is becoming more involved with the Skills department, in part because of the joint effort of Skills, AVID and environmental science teachers in organizing Skills Night.

“We are committed to making sure our students are supported in all of their classes, and having good communication with the skills team on a regular basis allows us to do this,” Lee said. “Skills Night strengthened the relationship between the science department and skills department because we worked closely with each other to organize and run the event.”

Though Skills Night is not officially an annual event yet, the Skills and AVID teams are already looking to hold more in future years.

“Personally, I would love to see this be an annual event. Our team can change each year, but I know this will be an ongoing conversation,” Tomkpins said.