Fadwa Edais, a mother of three children, spends most of her time helping families succeed in education. For years, she has worked with local literacy programs and migrant students in the Student Success Center for the Anchorage School District.
One night, as Fadwa attended an Anchorage Peer Leader Navigator meeting, our Director of Education Impact paid the group a visit. Cecelia DeKorne came to distribute donated books and share how United Way of Anchorage is working to eliminate disparate outcomes for children. One initiative that she mentioned is our partnership with Alaska Public Media to host Parent Council. It gives parents first-hand, face-to-face opportunities to share concerns and ask questions of our staff and Anchorage School District (ASD) officials.
Fadwa was interested immediately. “I focus on helping parents learn strategies to read to and with their kids,” she says. “When Cecelia said she needed people to join Parent Council,” Fadwa recalls, “I thought That fits with what I already do.”
Fadwa came to the first Parent Council session and left impressed. “Cecelia listened to what we wanted and needed,” says Fadwa. “And then the next week, she came back with an agenda based on our feedback.” This approach continues at Parent Council.
Parent Council has made progress destigmatizing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). It has demystified King Tech High School and Middle College as well as immersion and optional programs. Parent Council has empowered guardians to advocate effectively for their children. Now, attendees have fewer disconnects about how to navigate school calendars, parent-teacher conference schedules, lunch menus, recess expectations, and even grievance processes.
“I can tell United Way wants parents to feel comfortable going to their children’s schools and talking to their teachers and administrators,” says Fadwa. The people who come to Parent Council get the terms, tools, and resources to succeed. “Now, instead of just asking, ‘How was your day at school?’ parents are more engaged.” Learn more about United Way’s focus on education, financial stability and health.
Involved families were allowed to apply for one-time mini grants to offset their children’s extracurricular activities’ costs. United Way awarded $2,831 between nine families so opportunities like summer camps, physical activities, and memberships could occur.
The 2023-2024 school-year Parent Council began on October 5 at Mt. View Elementary. “People are waiting for the day to go back,” Fadwa says. Parents and guardians wanting to attend, speaking up, and seeming fully engaged lets United Way of Anchorage know our impact has made a difference. We’re excited to transition full ownership to Alaska Public Media so the valuable work of Parent Council continues.
You can participate in Parent Council by attending meetings on November 2, 2023 and January 11, February 8 and April 11 2024. For more information, click the button below to email Cecelia DeKorne, United Way’s Director of Education Impact.