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Reframing: Adding PEP to Blue Ridges Step 1

Reframing: Adding PEP to Blue Ridges Step


Eric Kursman
December 10, 2011
George Mason University
EDLE 620
Dr. Beverly Woody
















Reframing: Adding PEP to Blue Ridges Step 2
Over the course of the past decade, northern Virginia has experienced incredible growth
in population. Between the years of 2000 and 2010, Loudoun was the fifth-fastest growing
county in the country; its population increased by 84% over the span of the decade ("Loudoun
county 2010," 2011). Within that population increase, the Hispanic population nearly
quadrupled to 40,000 residents ("Loudoun county 2010," 2011). As any educator can imagine,
this population influx placed enormous stress on Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) to
meet the rising demands of a growing student population. Not only has the LCPS student
population ballooned 175% since 1998, but also the number of Hispanic students has risen to
nearly 44% of the entire student body. To meet the needs of these new students, schools near
Sterling, VA in the eastern end of Loudoun (the area of highest concentration for new population
growth) have already implemented many culturally responsive teaching strategies to meet the
needs of new students (Howard, 2007). As population gains move westward across Loudoun,
schools near Purcellville are following suit.
Over the course of the next three years, Purcellvilles Blue Ridge Middle School is in line
to become an English Language Learner (ELL) magnet school in the western end of Loudoun
County. Currently, Blue Ridge Middle School has a homogenous student body (88% white) with
support programs to meet the needs of the current demographical proportions ("Blue ridge
middle," 2011). In order to meet the needs of a future change in student demographics, Blue
Ridge needs to develop support programs before the major population shift takes place. To meet
this goal, Blue Ridge Middle School included Parents as Educational Partners (PEP) in the 2010-
2011 School Improvement Plan (SIP) to forge stronger communication practices and lay the
groundwork for significant support within the school and surrounding community.
The PEP team was initiated in August of 2011 by new building principal Brion Bell.
After having successfully implemented a PEP team at his former school, Mr. Bell called on Beth
Reframing: Adding PEP to Blue Ridges Step 3
Stickley (6
th
grade Spanish teacher) and me (8
th
grade English teacher) to lead the new program.
As defined by the ELL program within LCPS, Parents as Educational Partners is a parent
outreach organization designed to educate and empower parents whose first language is not
English to become decision makers and advocates for their childs education ("Parents as
educational," 2011). The PEP team hosts dinner once every quarter in the school cafeteria and
provides informational presentations for non-native English-speaking parents and families. At
each meeting, all of the primary stakeholders contribute to the nights session: Beth and I provide
the informational presentation; school counselors provide scheduling and parenting advice; the
parent liaison provides child care, support, and assistance to families in need; and the
administrative team provides dinner. The initial reaction of the individuals most affected by the
PEP team -- the parents -- was difficult to gauge at first. Although parents expressed gratitude
for the PEP team communication and support, they were hesitant both to attend and to ask
questions. After meeting twice, however, parents were much more eager to attend meetings and
speak out during presentations; some even invited more families to the next meeting.
The rationale for the PEP team was threefold: it would bridge the communication gap
between the family and the school by clarifying the expectations of students and families; it
would inform families about LCPS policies regarding rules, grades, scheduling, and SOLs; and
it would build a sense of community and strengthen trust. The PEP team would also serve both
stated and assumed goals. Within the SIP, it is stated that parents will attend meetings to learn
about BRMS expectations and gain knowledge and communication skills to advocate for their
childs education. From these meetings, the PEP team assumes that parents will become more
involved in their childs education and communicate more often with school leaders about their
childs education.
Reframing: Adding PEP to Blue Ridges Step 4
When analyzing the success of the PEP team, I first chose to view its progress through
the structural frame. After careful examination of the six different assumptions of the structural
frame, I concluded that the PEP team was considerably successful. One of the assumptions of
the structural frame states that problems arise and performance suffers from structural
deficiencies which can be remediated through analysis and restructuring (Bolman and Deal,
2008). The formation of the PEP team was preemptive: future problems could arise from the
structural deficiencies of not having communication pieces, e.g. PEP, in place. Furthermore, the
PEP teams creation would help to cultivate community involvement and build a foundation of
support from non-native English-speaking families. The principals decision to found the
program came after analyzing how a shift in student and family demographics would alter the
schools needs. By forming the PEP team, Mr. Bell also restructured resources: he tapped Beth
and me to head the project, he lobbied the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) for funding, and
he included our parent liaison and guidance counselors to improve community outreach.
A second assumption of the structural framework states that suitable forms of
coordination and control ensure that diverse efforts of individuals and units mesh (Bolman and
Deal, 2008). By coordinating with school secretaries and bookkeepers, Beth was able to
determine parents language of choice and make certain that all school communication was
delivered to each family in their preferred language. Our parent liaison coordinated and
controlled dinner supervision and child care during the PEP meetings so that school faculty and
parents in attendance could mesh without interruption. By balancing coordination throughout
our meetings, Beth controlled bilingual communication while I shared content and informational
instruction with Mr. Bell and our school counselors. Together, we coordinated the specialized
roles of each player to enhance the effectiveness of our presentation.
Reframing: Adding PEP to Blue Ridges Step 5
One final and significant assumption of the structural frame states that organizations
increase efficiency through specialization and division of labor (Bolman and Deal, 2008).
Different stakeholders specializations allowed the PEP team to function more purposefully.
Between Beths trilingual expertise, my personal interest in multicultural outreach, the
counselors experience in family guidance, and our parent liaisons community connections,
each players specialized role served a distinct purpose. Furthermore, efficiency was optimized
through the division of labor. Beth communicated and coordinated invitations and translators; I
created presentation content and plans for meetings; our parent liaison provided child care and
meal supervision; and our counselors provided parenting and academic guidance. By sticking to
personal specializations and dividing up tasks, the PEP team increased its structural efficiency.
Although the PEP team was successful through the structural lens, I also chose to reframe
the formation of the PEP team through the human resources frame. After careful consideration
of many of the assumptions, I concluded that the PEP team was even more successful than I had
originally calculated. One of the assumptions of the human resources frame states that
organizations exist to serve the people, not the reverse (Bolman and Deal, 2008). The PEP
teams philosophy was designed to empower people in our community; its very existence centers
on serving its people. Furthermore, the PEP team serves both the faculty who run the program
and the parents who benefit from its support. The program encourages all of its members to
become ambassadors for families who struggle to communicate with the school and the
community. Most importantly, the upcoming demographics fluctuation prompted PEPs
implementation; the organizations creation is in direct response to the communitys needs.
A second assumption of the human resources frame states that people and organizations
need each otherorganizations need ideas, energy, and talent; people need careers, salaries, and
opportunities (Bolman and Deal, 2008). The needs of the PEP team were met by its members:
Reframing: Adding PEP to Blue Ridges Step 6
the founder of the lead LCPS PEP Team (Charisse Roasrio) provided ideas, the building
principal (Mr. Bell) provided energy and enthusiasm, and the programs leaders (Beth and I)
provided the talent with respect to communication and coordination. Furthermore, all of the
individuals involved needed opportunities. With regards to the PEP team, Beth needed the
chance to extend her classroom curriculum into the community, and I needed the chance to build
on my personal interest of promoting multicultural awareness in a homogeneous setting. More
important than the PEP team, the parents needed opportunities as well. Different parent leaders,
such as Marta (pseudonym), needed the chance to serve as an intermediary translator between
Beth and the other parents at PEP meetings. Parents also needed the opportunity to communicate
with school faculty in a more comfortable manner: their native language. All parties involved in
the PEP program thrive off of one another, and in turn, create a continuous cycle that allows PEP
to grow.
When considering the formation of the PEP team, the most important assumption of the
human resources frame states that a good fit gets both. Individuals find meaningful and
satisfying work, and organizations get the talent and energy they need to succeed (Bolman and
Deal, 2008). In Beth, the PEP team had a faculty member with experience in coordinating and
sponsoring Native-American Day events, SAMS (Spanish at Middle School) Festival
celebrations, and Equity Team activities. After having grown up and taught in multiculturally-
diverse settings, it has been my mission to meet many different cultures educational needs, not
just the needs of the most dominant culture. Mr. Bell recruited two highly-motivated staff
members who are passionate about multicultural awareness and equity within both diverse and
homogenous settings. The work that Beth and I put in with the PEP team has helped to solidify
our moral purpose in the program and within the schools commitment to its community. By
appointing Beth and I to head the PEP team, Mr. Bell capitalized on our moral purpose to
Reframing: Adding PEP to Blue Ridges Step 7
contribute to our surrounding community, develop our own internal commitment, and strengthen
our school as a whole (Fullan, 2007).
By analyzing the formation and implementation of the PEP team through two different
frames, I gained considerable, valuable insight. First, organizations cannot exist on the goodwill
of its members alone structure is a necessity to survival. When analyzing situations, I
instinctively turn to the human resources framework first because it is the frame that I feel most
naturally comfortable with. It is important for passionate individuals to energize the means and
enthusiasm for a program, however structural organization is necessary to productively share that
passion and translate that enthusiasm into a clear, helpful product. Second, I learned that each
frames scope has its own limitations. Structure stresses organization, but doesnt value
emotional components. Human resources strengthens the bonds between individuals, but it
needs structure in order to efficiently and effectively use those relationships for successful and
meaningful impact. If I had only analyzed the PEP teams inception through a single frame, I
would have missed elements necessary for a thorough examination. Third, and most important, I
learned that exercising multiple viewpoints breeds empathy. When analyzing different angles of
a situation, multiple perspectives inevitably allows for a greater overall understanding. This
same concept also applies to working with others: by only obtaining one point of view, skewed
perspectives may lead to inequitable scrutiny of some or all parties involved.
The implications of reframing the formation of the PEP team also shed light on my
growth and development as a future school administrator. First, this paper demonstrates the need
to carefully analyze all situations through multiple frames. For my own personal development,
this is a self-discipline issue: it is easy to say that I am analyzing issues through multiple lenses,
but it is a different task altogether to purposefully block out time and carefully reframe situations
in multiple ways. School leaders distinguish themselves from other educational professionals
Reframing: Adding PEP to Blue Ridges Step 8
because of their self-discipline and patience to mull over conflicts in different frames -- I am still
developing those skills. Second, by reframing the PEP team in multiple lenses, I can see how
SIP implementations can be flawed if they are executed in only one frame of mind. Without
stepping back to analyze an SIPs implementation and impact through multiple frames,
administrative members will fail to meet all demands of a given situation and may even miss out
on further opportunities for future success. Third, and most important, this paper demonstrates
the need for multiple personalities and perspectives within an administrative team. The danger
of groupthink could be disastrous, especially in reference to SIP initiatives. For example, if the
entire administrative team was predisposed to exercise the human resource framework, the
missing structural and political frames could impede their progress to make meaningful and
lasting change in their building.
After careful analysis and scrutiny of the PEP program, it is clear that Parents as
Educational Partners will serve as a foundation to lead Blue Ridge Middle School through its
own culture of change. By aiding in the formation of the PEP team, I gained valuable experience
in laying the groundwork for student support at school and building trust and communication
between the school and its community. Just as this experience allows me to help meet the
immediate and specific needs in my school and my community, reframing projects such as this
study also strengthen my leadership skills by exercising framework analysis to better understand
the successes and failures of new program implementations throughout the course of my career.





Reframing: Adding PEP to Blue Ridges Step 9
References

Bolman, Lee G., & Deal, Terrence E. (2008). Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice,
and Leadership. San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Blue ridge middle school: Test scores and stats. (2011). Retrieved from
http://www.greatschools.org/cgi-bin/va/other/979
Fullan, Micheal. (2007). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Howard, G. R. (2007, March). As diversity grows, so must we. Educational
Leadership, 64(6), 16-22. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-
leadership/mar07/vol64/num06/As-Diversity-Grows,-So-Must-We.aspx
Loudoun County Government, Department of Management and Financial Services.
(2011). Loudoun county 2010 census highlights. Retrieved from website:
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Loudoun County Public Schools, Public Information Office. (2011). Loudoun county public
schools, virginia - fact sheet 2011-2012. Retrieved from website:
http://www.lcps.org/cms/lib4/VA01000195/Centricity/Domain/4/_files/LCPS Fact Sheet
Summary - 2011-2012.pdf
Parents as educational partners (pep). (2011, May 5). Retrieved from
http://www.lcps.org/page/359