Taking Talk Seriously

In Spring, 2015, Literacy Action, a leading state adult literacy nonprofit, launched a partnership with the DeKalb County School District to bring teachers and parents together. A number of schools have identified engagement challenges because of parents’ low English proficiency. This partnership is finding solutions to the chief language barriers that keep parents and teachers apart. Ultimately, parent engagement will strengthen relationships between parents and schools, and this will help all students get the best education possible.

The pilot program opened in two schools, Cross Keys High School with parents from Cross Keys and neighboring Woodward Elementary School, and Oakcliff Elementary School in Doraville. Literacy Action was able to serve 15 parents at Cross Keys and 30 parents at Oakcliff.

Literacy Action chose a curriculum, From Home to School, that was taught during 90-minute class sessions in which parents learn and practice their English with Literacy Action instructors.

The goal is to teach the parents basic English language skills as well as the vocabulary necessary to communicate with teachers and administrators. The spring pilot program ran for seven weeks and was considered a success by the parents, parent liaisons, and Literacy Action. See the board below where some Oakcliff parents shared what they learned at one of our classes. (The same parents who are pictured above.)


In September, the classes at Cross Keys and Oakcliff will continue. There are plans to open an additional class in October and continue adding schools on a quarterly basis throughout 2016. Literacy Action teachers work hard to improve the basic English proficiency of all parents attending classes as well as to ensure that the school district meets their measures for success. Those measures include:

  • helping parents understand school protocol and procedures
  • knowing how to identify syllabi
  • understanding the student code of conduct
  • accessing the online grading portal

If you would like to support this effort by helping in the classroom, contact Kacy Brubaker, ESL Manager at Literacy Action.

 — by Austin Dickson, Literacy Action executive director