The Right Answer to WHO and WHAT Could Mean Family Engagement Success

Adapted from Building a High Achieving School 3 C’s to Success

Tis the season for planning special events and spreading good will and holiday cheer!  When preparing for that holiday event you probably take into consideration two very important components to a successful gathering; who and what.  The same is true when planning special events at school.  Meaningful and impactful school events can have powerful and lasting effects when the entire school and community are brought together for a common purpose. 

Events can be social or non-academic, informative and academic, or appreciative, but consider making all events educational, engaging and empowering for all stakeholders.  Plan special events consistently throughout the year that stakeholders look forward to attending.  By constantly evaluating the level of interest, participation and success of each event, you will be ensuring the relevancy and impact that each special event has on stakeholders.  Do not get caught in the trap of “doing the same thing, year after year, and expecting greater results.”  Administrators and teachers sometimes get stuck in a rut doing the same special events at their schools, year after year, because that is what always has been done without really making the event “special” at all. Keeping with tradition is fine as long as stakeholders are receiving beneficial information and/or services and teachers feel supported and valued and students succeed.  If stakeholders are disengaged with the events, then it is time for a necessary change! 

Special events can be time consuming to plan and execute, but worth it when school-family-community partnerships are built, boosted and maintained as a result.  Finally, when planning the special event, keep in mind “who” needs to be engaged in the event and “what” is the purpose of the event.  Below is a list of possible suggestions for who to invite to special events at your school and what type of special events to implement during the school year to ensure maximum engagement.


So who needs to be invited to different events?  Consider the following individuals when hosting any school event:

  • Parent and/or primary care giver
  • Grandparent
  • Aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family members
  • Siblings
  • Foster parent
  • School Board members
  • Political leaders; town mayor, city council members, delegates, senators, governor
  • Community leaders; chamber of commerce president, CEOs, church council members, fire/police department chief, department of transportation official, college president, civic organizations’ board members, non-profit groups, television personalities, athletes, authors
  • Private citizens; those in the school’s neighborhood, philanthropists, doctors, retired professionals, volunteers
  • Business owners and partners


Aligning the appropriate groups of stakeholders to the special events is the key to creating partners in education to help all students succeed. Consider the following list of events:

  • Non-Academic Events
  • Academic Events
  • Application Events
  • Carnival
  • Back to School Night
  • Multi-Cultural Awareness Dinner
  • Holiday Festival
  • Academic Fair
  • Volunteer Luncheon
  • Talent Show
  • Parent University
  • Military Family Recognition
  • Book Fair
  • Technology Night
  • Awards Assemblies
  • Sporting Event
  • Career Fair
  • Teacher Appreciation Week
  • Band Concert
  • Business Symposium
  • Grandparents’ Day
  • School Play
  • Literacy/Math Nights
  • Black History Month
  • Field Day
  • Parent Workshops
  • PTA/PTO Breakfast

These events, when well attended by the matching “who”, can be excellent networking opportunities for all stakeholders involved.  Be sure to recognize and honor those special guests in attendance and thank them for their continued support and efforts in helping your school achieve its goals.  Special events are a means to creating and building strong family-school-community partnerships which in turn build a better future for all of our students.

For more innovative outreach ideas, register for the 2018 National Family Engagement Summit.