Ohio Partnership School Story: Passport to Partnership at Noble Elementary School in Cleveland Heights

This story was first published in the Promising Partnership Practices Guide from the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins, on Page 42. Noble Elementary School in Cleveland Heights is one of the Cohort 1 schools implementing the evidence-based Partnership Schools Model supported by the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center.

“Passport to Partnership at Noble Elementary celebrated the end of the 20-21 school year in an unusual way. Some restrictions due to COVID-19 were lifted, and students, families, and teachers could meet face to face. The event was held out of doors, with masks required to keep everyone safe. The in-person activity was the first opportunity for many students to meet their teachers in person. It was just what was needed
to confirm that the hard work of a virtual school year was supported by a strong commitment to strengthening school, family, and community partnerships.

At Passport to Partnerships, each table or station featured an important subject that students study and one of the school’s goals for school, family, and community connections. For example, at the Math Table, students and teachers showed parents how they use playing cards for math games to strengthen math skills. Then, attendees received a deck of cards and a book of math activities to play at home.

At the Literacy Table, students and teachers demonstrated reading activities and discussed the work of the Library Bookmobile. Students received a good book to take home for summer reading. Other tables were led by the PTA and community partners on specific family engagement activities. For example, the Exceptional Children’s Advocacy Group distributed information on their support group for parents and services for children with special needs. Brightly colored fliers were sent home with students and posted on the school website. Parents received invitations and reminders via ClassDojo—the school’s multi-language communication app. The PTA publicized the activity, paid for materials at several tables, and provided the raffle prizes that were distributed during the evening.

At school, everyone was made welcome and encouraged to connect with teachers and with other families. They received a “passport” that listed the various tables and activities. The passports were stamped at each table to show participation. Students brought their completed passport to the PTA table for a toy or prize. The passport encouraged parents to make new contacts by (1) introducing themselves and exchanging phone or contact information with two new parents that they did not know before, and (2) saying hello to a teacher or staff member to share a dream they have for their child. Then, parents and students were able to enjoy the fun and learning games at each table. Passport to Partnerships, then, was a new way to encourage families to make new social connections, learn about the school’s curricular program and partnership goals, and have some fun.

The reverse side of the Passport offered families a discount coupon from a local BBQ restaurant across the street from the school. This community partner is an alum of schools in the district and is always a strong supporter of partnership activities. Toward the end of the evening, students in the 21st Century After-School Program performed a dance program, and got other students, teachers, and families to dance along. Also, students could sign up for summer reading programs conducted by the school and library. Finally, students presented the principal with a “Best Principal Ever!” award.

Passport to partnerships was well attended by more than 75 students and 50 parents. The activities evoked tons of smiles and laughter. This activity, by design, reinforced the school’s commitment to continually improving its goal-linked program of school, family, and community partnerships.”

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