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Got a question? Diman rolls out new strategy for engaging families

Audrey Cooney
The Herald News

FALL RIVER — Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School is trying a new tactic to help parents and families engage with their children’s education, with a new outreach program that aims to answer any question a family might have.

“We only have them from 7:30 to 2:30… if they’re going home to a structure that isn’t prepared to support them, it’s a missed opportunity,” said Andrew Rebello, principal at Diman.

Earlier this year, the school launched what’s called the Diman Family Connection and Parent Academy. A new page on Diman’s website is filled with links to resources of all kinds, from information about school bus routes to a way to contact the school’s IT department.

Rebello said the school conducted a community survey to see what resources families would like to see, and looked at data from the school’s website to see where the most people were clicking. Many of them wanted things like a clear way to check their student’s report card and ways to contact their teachers.

There are also recordings of the past several years’ parents’ forums on topics like AP classes, dual enrollment and college and career readiness.

Some families already know about all the programs and resources that Diman offers, Rebello said. But this is meant to reach the families who don’t.

There’s a search bar for families to enter any questions that they can’t find answers to elsewhere, so they can be connected with the best person to help them.

“A lot of people said ‘I don’t even know who to reach out to,’” Rebello said.

The webpage doesn’t just feature logistical information. A key feature of the new resource is a set of virtual presentations and information about tough topics like grandparents raising teenagers, anxiety in students and social media use.

The new resource has been in the works since the start of this school year.

“I think we all learned from the pandemic. Parents really had a front-row seat to their child’s education starting in March of 2020,” Rebello said.

He pointed to studies showing that families and parents being actively involved with children’s education leads to more positive outcomes like better grades and higher graduation rates. A parent looking at their child’s report card and talking to them regularly about how school is going can make a big difference, he said. And, high school can sometimes see families become less engaged in a teen’s education as they get older.

“We’ve seen the power of when you engage families,” he said.