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Van Buren Director Focused On Engagement; Updated Policy Approved

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Van Buren Director Focused On Engagement; Updated Policy Approved

Van Buren County Schools updating the district’s family engagement policy to ensure parents understand they can have input in the system’s instruction and programs.

Director of Schools Jared Copeland said every school system must update its policy as part of receiving Title 1 funds from the federal government. However, with the change in leadership, the update provides a good chance to remind parents of their involvement.

“Well, I think a STEM night is an example, and a family reading night, really just any activity or event we can put together that gets parents in the schools so they can see their students in action and really just kind of have a good time, a fun time, too, engaging on those different levels that we might not always get to during a regular school day,” Copeland said. “We get to pull in parents and community members and really just make it a community event.”

Copeland said engagement ranks high on his list of priorities in taking over the director’s role. This is Copeland’s first year as director after taking over for Cheryl Cope earlier this year.

“We’re a very small school system, really,” Copeland said. “I feel the definition of a community school and so if our community is not involved, and if they don’t feel that they have a voice and a say in things, I feel like that’s a disconnect. And so we want to, however possible, and that’s something we always have to stay on top of, but we want to, however possible, let that be known and allow that communication to be open. And as long as, like I said, there’s that relationship there between us and the community and our parents and students, then it affects all of us in a good way.”

Bringing people into the schools in these types of engagement builds community support, Copeland said, helping both teachers and students to see the importance of their work. The school system also offers annual meeting and surveys to try to get input.

“It’s just really just laying out the framework of our partnership with our community and particularly with parents and guardians of students, just to lay a framework of engagement that we’re open and want to know their concerns and opinions and to be engaged with them throughout the year and their students and different activities and things like that,” Copeland said.

Copeland said social media and web-based initiatives also make feedback more possible than ever. But that type of communication may not always produce the best results.


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