RICHLAND ONE EMPLOYEE PROFILE: Parent and Family Engagement Specialist Glenda Wright Builds Partnerships between Schools and Homes
Parents play a big role in helping their children succeed in school, but some families may be dealing with situations at home that could prevent them from making sure their children are staying on track. That’s where Richland One’s parent and family engagement specialists, like Glenda Wright, step in.
The district’s 22 parent and family engagement specialists work with schools and community partners to provide resources for families and help students succeed academically. Wright has been a parent and family engagement specialist in Richland One since 2018. She currently serves A.J. Lewis Greenview and Burton-Pack elementary schools.
Wright says the most important part of her job is to build relationships with families and have one-on-one interactions with them. Wright says when parents have a connection with her, they’re more likely to open up and say they need help.
“I enjoy my job because of the relationships I build with my families. I am here to help families with their needs. If there’s something particular a family needs in the community, whether it’s assistance with electricity or food, or their child needs help at school, they can let me know and I’ll provide the resources,” she said.
Wright knew when she was growing up in Great Falls that she wanted to help others. She understood the importance of helping others from her mother, who was a school bus driver.
“I believe in helping people and meeting people where they are to better their situations and better our children’s academic success,” said Wright.
Wright graduated from Benedict College in 1993. After working for a Head Start program, she opened her own child care facility in Lancaster: Brighter Future Child Development Center. Wright ran the center for 12 years before becoming the director of the Benedict College Child Development Center.
She became interested in becoming a parent and family engagement specialist in Richland One after attending a job fair.
“When I got to the table that the Office of Federal and State Programs was running, I saw that they needed a parent and family engagement specialist. I was like ‘You know what? This sounds like something I can do,’” said Wright.
As part of her job, Wright organizes events with community partners to encourage families to be more engaged in their child’s education. She says she loves how creative she can get with the events. For example, Wright recently organized a breakfast and bingo event for grandparents at A.J. Lewis Greenview with Oak Street Health. Grandparents learned math skills they can use to help their grandchildren and they received free cleaning products.
“Our grandparents are raising our students just as well as moms and dads. We wanted to give them something they can use while they are taking care of our students,” said Wright.
Some parents Wright work with go above and beyond by volunteering at their child’s school. Shavonne Leonard has been volunteering at A.J. Lewis Greenview for more than eight years, ranging from chaperoning her two children’s field trips to supporting students at awards ceremonies when their parents are unable to come. She says Wright has helped connect her with other families she may otherwise never see.
“I love Ms. Wright. She has left a positive impact on the schools she works with. I appreciate that she can count on me because I’ve shown myself to be supportive at the school. She calls me. I’m here. I can support in any way possible,” said Leonard.
One of the highlights of Wright’s time in Richland One was having three of her initiatives at A.J. Lewis Greenview and Burton-Pack recognized by the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) at Johns Hopkins University. The most recent initiative recognized, “We Both Read: Books and Blankets,” was included in the Promising Practices 2023 e-book.
For that initiative, Wright invited parents of students at A.J. Lewis Greenview who were not reading at their grade level to read with their child at the school. Families selected a book from the student’s identified reading level and chose a spot in the school to enjoy the story together with hot chocolate and cookies. Chairs with blankets were placed at different parts of the school where the families could sit. Families were also invited to borrow another book to enjoy at home and to select new ones when they were done.
“We’ve had great feedback from our parents on this initiative, saying that they enjoyed spending time with their child while they were reading,” said Wright.
She says her ultimate goal as a parent and family engagement specialist is to increase student achievement. Wright says Richland One’s Office of Federal and State Programs, as well as her fellow parent and family engagement specialists, have provided her with the tools she needs to help make that happen.
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