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Learning Curve

Mentor Creates Video Series

a group of nuts

Coweta County Parent Mentor Georgia Fruechtenicht shares her story about the In a Nutshell video series she created for her district:

Here is the list of videos

  • Supplemental Social Security
  • Katie Beckett
  • Champions for Children
  • Family Support Funding
  • New Options/Comprehensive Waivers Supports
  • Georgia Crisis Access Line

Q. Why did you decide to start doing the nutshell videos?

A. I’ve been wanting to do some short videos for a while, but just haven’t taken the time to do them. In college, I worked with an adult literacy program. Since then, I’ve been very aware that many adults have low literacy skills. When I send information out in writing, I check it with a “readability” tool to make sure it is written at a level that most parents can understand them. My goal is to write at an 8th grade level.  But I know some parents still struggle and would benefit from seeing/hearing the information. This spring, I had a parent ask if she could record me explaining something to her. She admitted that she couldn’t read very well and said instead of asking me to stay on the phone with her for hours explaining it, she could listen to the recording until she got it. That was the push that I needed to start recording some videos.

Reflecting on Family Engagement Standards: Welcoming and Sharing Information. By ensuring that the reading level is 8th grade, Georgia is helping her families feel invited to read the materials she provides. Sharing information happens more regularly when the materials are accessible to parents and you meet them where they are.

Q. How did you decide on what topics to highlight?

A. I made a list of the topics I find myself explaining most often. Because so many of the families that I’m talking to are struggling financially, I thought I would start there.  I’m not done yet. I still have many more on my list to record.

Reflecting on Family Engagement Standards: Supporting Student Success. By focusing on the questions families ask most often, Georgia is offering families the information they are asking for to help their child in school.

Q. What suggestions do you have for someone who wants to make them?

A.Just do it. The great thing about recording is that you can always delete it if you don’t like it. When I first started, I realized that I was too long winded. My first take was often 10 minutes. I want them to be 5 minutes or less. Remember, it’s a “nutshell” so it’s just enough information to get them interested to learn more.

Q. Did you partner with anyone in your district, and, what is the process for submitting content like this in your district? What kind of approvals, etc do you need to get, how far in advance do you plan them?  

A.I didn’t partner with anyone to make them. Well, I guess I had to partner with my family to keep them out of the kitchen while I was recording. I’ve sent them to case managers as well as community partners, and I’ve heard from parents that they are sharing them. It is my hope that teachers will use them during IEP meetings to explain programs and also introduce parents to me.  As far as approval, I recorded them and then sent them to my director for approval. Once she approved, I sent them to the person who uploads content to the district website.  There are links on the Special Ed website to the videos. I’ve also sent them out to my email list, which includes parents and special ed teachers.

Reflecting on Family Engagement Standards: Sharing Power, Collaborating with Community Working with her director to make sure the video message and focus was appropriate was a vital piece of collaboration, mentors work for the local district and therefore must observe professional standards and follow district policies. This is an example of sharing power because Georgia is not “the keeper of family engagement knowledge”, these videos are available for parents and teachers to use anytime.