George Lucas Educational Foundation

Yes Prep North Central

Grades 6-12 | Houston, TX

Cultivating Parent Engagement

A focus on family involvement is one reason for student success in the rigorous college-prep environment at YES Prep North Central in Houston, Texas.
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Cultivating Parent Engagement (Transcript)

Teacher: We wanted to welcome you guys to our Books of Hope Exhibition for 2009.

Narrator: YES Prep North Central is constantly looking for ways to involve parents in their child's education. Like this book fair, a combination social service project, fundraiser, and demonstration of student work.

Allie: They've written books to send to a school in Uganda and it looks like they've chosen various topics to write about, and looks like a really good project. They spent a good deal of time researching, a lot of the kids have their rough drafts available, so it's nice to see their process that they went through.

Student: I did mine on musical instruments. It's called, The String Family.

Allie: Knowing that my son is here at YES Prep, it's excellent. There's rigor, and everything is interrelated, and it's a very small school, it's very family oriented.

Student: And this is just like a mini-synopsis on the history of guitars.

Allie: I really feel good and confident about the education that he's getting here.

Teacher: So it was back there?

Narrator: Parents get involved with YES Prep even before their kids enroll in the school. During the summer, students and staff members visit the homes of prospective students to deliver a contract that includes a commitment on the part of the parents.

Oh, come in, please, Sir.

Bryan: I think the home visit does a number of things. At first, it's that direct personal contact we can have with the parents, and I think it's a nice personal touch that kind of sets the mood for the fact that we are a family oriented school. We're not only willing to say it, but we're willing to kind of put our money where our mouth is.

Under Student Commitments, can you go one by one on those bullet points, and read those out loud for me?

The parents absolutely love it, and to go to these home visits, it's a great reminder of why we do what we do. I've done home visits before, where parents have just wept, because, I mean, they truly feel like they're lucky and they're blessed.

Orianno, you know the Parent Contract?

Oh yes, Sir, I got my son, my daughter already in the school.

Bryan: You're a pro.


Chris: The contract, I think is, it's symbolic, but what we want parents to understand is that this has got to be a team effort. You know, this is a three legged stool. It's us, it's your kid, and it's you, and if we work together for the next seven years, your kid is going to be able to go to any college they want to.

Bryan: Sign under the Student Signature, please?

Narrator: The written commitment of parents and students to the goal of a college education, comes in handy when a student wanders off track.

Bryan: Because there's no reason that you should be in this position right now.

Chris: We don't kick kids out, if the stuff on the contract doesn't get done. If stuff on the contract doesn't get done, it becomes a teaching opportunity for the parent or the kid, to pull that thing out, and say, look, this is what you said you were going to do. And it's a great reminder, and it's a great reference point, when we need to have these conversations.

Student: I don't know, this year just hasn't-- I don't know where it went.

Bryan: When you say that, you make it sound like the wind. You are in control of this year, right? So it needs to be you, a book, and this.

Student: To start off, my topic is Business In Fashion.

Narrator: Most parent visits to YES Prep involve presentations of student accomplishments, like this personal project.

Student: My goal was to design three pieces, and then get at least 50 percent of the tenth grade to actually say, yes, I would actually wear that. I got to actually make this, and I showed it to them. And they were-- they thought it was short, but they were proud of my work.

Teacher: What do you think, Dad, too short? Definitely.

Student: Yeah.

Allie: So it looks like you have lots of pictures and text features.

Narrator: At the Seventh Grade Exhibition, hard work pays off, as the whole class gets to shine in front of their parents.

Katie: We found that exhibitions are a great way to get parents to come and see their child's work, and to be proud of their child's work, and to see what we're doing as a school. Often we try to invite all of the parents, just to make the kids feel like, you know, this was important work that you did, and that, you know, people are interested in seeing it.

Bonnie: My title, I called it Math, Easy As 1-2-3, because it's really easy as 1-2-3.

Efrain: I don't see a lot of commitment for us, although we're there for her, but it seems like she's got it all wrapped up.

Bonnie: This page is dedicated to people in Uganda, and people that love math like I do.

Efrain: She's learning it takes a lot of hard work, not just 50, 60 percent, it takes 100 percent effort, and basically that's what it takes for college, it takes a lot of work, a lot of sleepless hours.

Bonnie: If I want to see what is 6 times 8, I would look at this table, and see 6, and then the 8, which is 48. See, so it's easyk, very easy.

Allie: I think that the teachers here do an excellent job. They're always available for any kind of questions that I might have, as a parent, and also any questions that my son might have, as a student, and they're extremely patient. Yeah, they put this first, above everything else, so it's a privilege to be a YES Prep parent.

Efrain: And what grade would be a good idea to teach this type of math?

Bonnie: I would say third grade, I--

Efrain: Bonnie, we're proud of you, and--

Woman: We love the school.

Efrain: We love, yes, we love, yes, definitely yes. When you go to college, university, yes.

Narrator: For more information about, What Works in Public Education, go to

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Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis


  • Karen Sutherland

Coordinating Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Production Assistant

  • Doug Keely

Camera Crew

  • Thomas Waldron
  • Mark Angelo


  • Kris Welch

Original Music

  • Ed Bogas

Support for Edutopia's Schools That Work series is provided, in part, by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Click on any of the titles below to download a PDF of one of YES Prep's many resources.

Parent Engagement

Family Contract - English 567K
Commitment to college completion signed by parents and students upon enrollment (English)

Family Contract - Spanish 535K
Commitment to college completion signed by parents and students upon enrollment (Spanish)

More at How YOU Can Do It: YES Prep Resources and Downloads


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