Why Family Engagement Matters: An Interview with YES Prep Northside Dean of Students, James Mosley

James Mosley, Dean of Students at YES Prep NorthsideJames Mosley is a Dean of Students at YES Prep Northside. Previously, he worked as an Instructional Coach with Teaching Excellence and as a teacher and administrator for KIPP Houston Public Schools. We interviewed him about YES Prep Northside’s initiatives to engage parents on campus and asked him why family involvement matters. 

What do you like about the role of Dean of Students?

I gain energy interacting with students and parents on a daily basis. Also, as Dean of Students, I can promote why schools like YES Prep exist and how we benefit the students, their family, and the community.

In what ways do you work to engage parents and families on campus?

When I came to YES Prep Northside last year, I wanted to figure out how to get parents on campus. Our Student Support Counselor, Sh’Nay Ballard, put together a Parent Summit. This was a chance for parents to come to campus and learn about college, health, and what it means to be a YES Prep student and YES Prep parent. We had sessions in English and Spanish. We also had community vendors provide things like flu shots for families. We will host our second Parent Summit on January 30th. We really want to push college readiness and teach parents about financial aid and scholarships.

Last year, we also had a Dads and Donuts breakfast. From working at an all-boys school, I saw the impact of a father and how important he can be in a student’s life, so we invited fathers, uncles, grandfathers, or any father figure to YES Prep Northside. We provided them with the opportunity to share a meal with their child and engage in a meaningful conversation about their past experiences and what they were most proud of. We had 60 to 70 family members attend.

The month of November was family month here at YES Prep Northside. In every advisory classroom, students and teachers brought pictures of their families to share. The theme was Your Family, Our Family. At the end of the month, Revolution Foods provided a Thanksgiving lunch and we invited families to attend. Our sixth grade Grade Level Chairs also hosted an event last month with cookie decorating and a photo booth and had over 100 6th grade parents attend.

Why is it important to engage parents in the ways you described above? What impact will it have?

When I think about impact, I think about families coming together to support the success of their student. I grew up in Houston in an underserved community, and now I see the impact my family had on me.  When we, as educators, bring families together, we make that unit so much stronger and we invest the family in the work the student is doing to impact their future.

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