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News Item: Homepage

Hannalei Elementary's Culture of Family Engagement

“When parents are involved at school, the kids are so happy,” explains Tracy Zachary, Principal of Hannalei Elementary School.


A younger school, open for just 14 years, Hannalei has done remarkable work in creating the family environment Mrs. Zachry talks about. "We are very closely connected with the community. We have many staff members whose children are here, and we take that connection to the community seriously, and take pride in that family environment.”


A significant part of creating that environment has been working with diverse groups of parents and family members to ensure that all students and families are represented. Leaders of the school’s PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) and ELAC (English Learner Advisory Committee) groups gathered to work on ways that each group could support one another.


The groups generally had different schedules and tended to meet at different times. Mrs. Zachary and her team were intentional about creating a formal invitation to both groups to gather. “For whatever reason, though we’ve always welcomed parent and family input, we’d never formally invited all of the groups to meet together. When we did, we received overwhelming support and response to that formal invitation.”


A key member of the Hannalei team that helped to extend the formal invitation was the school’s Community Liaison. Says Mrs. Zachry, "Our community liaison has been a pivotal staff member in bringing our family groups together. Both groups, ELAC and PTA, have the same vision that I do in terms of making sure we all work together. I like having parent meetings and events with everyone; I don’t like to separate."


Once the groups were able to meet, the collaboration took off. "Our liaison was able to bridge the gap with language barriers so that we could meet together with both parent committees and stakeholder groups,” says Mrs. Zachry. "We all shared what we wanted out of the school and how we wanted students to be supported and how we could support each other. And because of those gatherings, we became a better team that just operated in different areas of the day. But when the end of the day happened, we all worked together."


Hannalei works daily to develop students as readers and seekers of knowledge. “Being a reader is the most important skill in opening our kids up to opportunities,” says Mrs. Zachry. “Once we establish them as great readers, they see that anything is possible.”


The school is an active participant in the district’s WAVE Pact Wednesdays, encouraging students to explore the things that a college education can open up for them in life. Having opened up a world of opportunities for students, the school has expanded to creating opportunities for parents to be involved on campus as well.


Last year, the school established “Volunteer Power Hours” on Tuesdays and Thursdays to invite parents and family members to be present on the school campus, assisting with everything from classroom readers to lunchroom tasks. The response was overwhelming and the program has continued in the new school year. Mrs. Zachry says, “Having their families there makes kids feel proud, and safe, and engaged, and our families take pride in the family environment.”




For a deeper dive into Hannalei Elementary, listen to our WAVEPod podcast episode with Principal Tracy Zachry.


Posted by: Lisa Contreras, District Admin, Vista Unified School District Published:10/11/17
Audience: Homepage and Homepage