Studies suggest that parental involvement in schooling is instrumental to students’ academic and personal success. Federal education policy has increasingly guided schools to engage parents as partners, yet parental involvement remains a challenge for many. This panel offers an interdisciplinary perspective on this issue by bringing together education scholars and a school-design architect to explore how school design can create welcoming spaces for parents, increase interaction between school staff and families, and facilitate a broader and inclusive community in support of student success. During the session, we will discuss factors that promote and discourage parental participation in schools and explore school design solutions, including school size and grade configuration, location of parking and facilities, parent resource centers, and technology. We will end with a discussion of school security measures’ impact on community and parental involvement. While we advocate for safe and secure schools, the surveillance model of schooling has resulted in design responses that may not encourage community connections. We will consider how we can balance school safety and students’ security with designing a welcoming environment for parents.
Mario Peña, AIA, AICP, CNUa, Principal, Able City
Mario A. Peña is a certified planner AICP and registered Architect in the state of Texas and Florida with over sixteen years of educational design experience, eight of which have been as principal of a design firm. Mario has focused on creating and leading teams of professionals with a passion for design, sensibility for creative problem solving, and unwavering customer service. He has continued to enhance his professional skills by broadening his expertise in the areas of retail development and urban planning. With a keen interest in urbanism and smart-growth, Mario understands the need to create urbanism that has an appropriate density that is connected and contributes to the quality of our places. He is particularly passionate about place-making, as well as promoting codes and policies that yield long term results for the community.
Dr. Kary Miller, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University
Dr. Karyn E. Miller is an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University—Commerce in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction where she teaches practice and research methods courses at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels. A former K-12 school teacher in New York City, Dr. Miller is engaged in research related to educational access and equity, education policy, school belonging, and teacher identity and preparation. Recently, she has published on school relationships and community-building during COVID-19, including technology-mediated care practices. Karyn has published in numerous journals, including Teachers’ College Record, Comparative Education Review, Online Learning, and Gender, Work, & Organization.
Dr. Alfredo Ramirez, Director of Education Administration, Texas A&M University
Dr Alfredo Ramirez, Jr. received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in Educational Administration from the cooperative Superintendency Program Cycle XIV. Dr. Ramirez is currently an assistant professor and director of the educational administration graduate program in the Department of Professional Programs in the College of Education at Texas A&M International University. Prior to his work at TAMIU, Dr. Ramírez served as a Director and Executive Director of the Human Resources Department and Del Valle Independent School District in Austin, Texas. He also worked as a cooperative Superintendency Program Fellow at the Texas Education Agency and served as a middle school assistant principal in the Manor Independent School District in Austin, Texas. He also worked as a middle school and high school assistant principal in the United Independent School District and human resources coordinator with the Laredo Independent School District. Dr. Ramirez’s research interest focus upon teacher evaluation systems, teacher mentoring systems, and instructional leadership.