Column: The magic of tying the family to school

Eloisa Duarte

Eloisa Duarte

Encouraging teamwork at the family level is something out of the ordinary that Bonnie Fischer, media teacher at Crystal River Elementary School (CRES), has succeeded in promoting among families of her students. It creates an interesting synergy between school and family that, of course, involves some challenges for the families in Carbondale and also for CRES.

Fischer’s strategy is basic; first she excites children by explaining everything related to the project, and then she sends home a symbolic contract that parents must sign and agree to their commitment to work as a family team.

As an example, last month, fourth graders, among them my daughter Esmeralda, presented their research projects about Colorado history, this being the third consecutive year that they had this experience about different subjects.

During these years, Esmeralda and her classmates have experienced with their families the excitement of research, studying and distributing tasks, and facing and overcoming the vicissitudes of teamwork — which is not a strength in most households.

As a result it is normal that some people experience concerns with this idea of active participation because it somehow confronts us with our weaknesses, but also gives us the opportunity to grow as a family in the practice of teamwork.

For the children, this is a wonderful process because they feel the support of those they love and are eager to show the world what their family can do.

Fischer, from my point of view, opens a path with two powerful aspects: family and school, providing the benefits of this synergy to the community. On one hand, the family connects better with the school; on the other hand, we, the parents, show our children not only with words but with results that we are active and we care about what happens in their school.

The family is a master value that must be present in schools; children who feel the strength and support of their family are more likely to be academically successful and to stay away from drugs, which are two of the biggest challenges besetting our children today.

Like CRES and teacher Bonnie Fischer, other schools and other teachers make incredible efforts to close the gap between school and family, a task that we must applaud to because it benefits the entire community.

As parents, it is our responsibility to be even closer to schools; this can be possible thanks to the work of the Family Resource Center, parent teacher organizations or other family link programs such as WATCH D.O.G.S and the Parent Mentor Program.

Fischer’s students, who lived through the experience of working with their families and completed the process the day of the exhibition, enjoyed an experience they will hardly forget.

Thanks to all the CRES staff for collaborating with this activity, to the parents who asserted the symbolic contract, and thanks to Bonnie Fischer for her enthusiasm and concerns for our children, our families and our community.

It is impossible to overlook schools that involve and commit their students’ families; they symbolize powerful ecosystems of hope, where we can incubate the future of generations of change, a product of school and family synergy.

Eloisa Duarte of Carbondale is an active volunteer with a degree in communications and a passion for education. Reach her at

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