What is FISS?
In July of 2023, Zoe Dzineku, Director of the Family Leadership Institute applied on behalf of our district and was granted acceptance into the pilot program of the Family Institute for Student Success also known as FISS.
FISS is a capacity building institute that aims at strengthening family, school, and community partnerships. The mission of FISS is to enhance the capacities of families and school staff to build strong, positive, and effective partnerships and to promote family well-being, healthy child development, and academic success of children and youth.
Our district goals are directly aligned with this program. We aim to increase family and community engagement and empower families as partners in the educational process. With the creation of the Family Leadership Institute (FLI), the district has initiated a direct line of communication to parents and/or caregivers by offering an array of training, workshops and pathways to support their child’s learning in LPS. LPS FLI along with FISS support the idea to have Families and Schools working together as partners to advance the well-being and success of children and youth.
To ensure the district readiness for FISS, we had to establish working groups, ideas, and projects of Building Positive Relationships, Promoting Family Well-being and Promoting Pathways for Partnerships. You may recognize these requirements as elements of the DESE’s MA State Framework and Roadmap for Success. Our district met all of these requirements due to the implementation of Community School Managers, Bilingual Liaisons and a Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practices (CLSP) coordinator within the Equity office under the leadership of Chief Latifah Phillips.
Our pilot school was chosen as the Lowell High School Freshman Academy. We intentionally focused on the Freshman Academy, due to the natural progression of parents and caregivers stepping back in engagement as their children get older. With the buy-in and encouragement from head of School Michael Fiato, Assistant Principal of the FA Andrea Gobbi, the coordination of Community Schools Manager Kathleen Keefe and the district, the FISS Core Families program was implemented in record time resulting in our district being the first to launch this program. The support of the school’s administration is so critical to the success of this program as the subsequent modules and shared programs require participation from families and Schools.
Our district launched the initial Families Core program which consists of critical training for FISS Facilitators and Recruiters to deliver the curriculum centered around Self-Efficacy in the participants' primary language. We had 3 separate classes based on language. There was an English, Spanish and Portuguese class. The core program is six 90-minute sessions. Each week provides a session which includes 4 facilitated sessions, 1 panel discussion and a graduation ceremony.
The inaugural FISS class is composed of 24 graduates of families of the Freshman Academy. These impressive class names are located on the Graduation Ceremony agenda. Our goal as a district is to continue to roll out this program in the Spring and for the next 3 years as the grant allows. We will also be adding a Khmer FISS class which was not available for the pilot, however we have asked specifically for our district. Congratulations to the families that participated and School and community partners that helped launch this under our commitment to family engagement.