Engaging Families for Student Success

VISTA Spotlight: Whitney Shephard

May 29, 2015

AmeriCorps VISTAs serve nationally to strengthen local organizations that serve low income communities. At Turning the Page, they’re fundamental to bolstering partnerships with parents and school staff and forging long-lasting relationships with local nonprofits, museums, and universities. In fact, VISTAs are a part of almost all aspects of TTP programs, and are the faces behind outreach strategy, child mentoring activities, field trips, social media, program evaluation, and research.

Here on the TTP blog, VISTAs share a little bit about themselves and their work in their own words!

group staff pic painting potteryName: Whitney Shephard

Hometown: Williamsburg, VA

Hats I wear at TTP: Supporting Community Nights and parent leadership initiatives at MLK Elementary School, keeping on top of supply orders and other logistical necessities (yes, I make sure that beef stroganoff and vegan Chixless nuggets arrive on time!), and leading our efforts to track TTP participation effectively on our new database, Salesforce. I also dabble in planning events, like our Parent Leadership Conferences and Author Visits!

Fun fact about me: I’m related to Houdini… only by marriage, but I like to pretend I may have somehow inherited his magical powers and illusionistic mastery.

class visit reading in a circleWhy I chose a year with AmeriCorps VISTA: I wanted to work directly with people on a community level, and Turning the Page’s model of equal partnership appealed to me. I’ve loved building relationships with our schools’ families, and establishing trust, friendship, and teamwork among our cohorts. I’m proud to work with an organization that seeks to strengthen communities by validating the expertise of passionate parent leaders and by helping work toward THEIR visions for their schools. I also enjoy working on a team that plays on a diverse array of talents; it’s fun when everyone brings their unique skills and experience to the table!

A story from my year of service: I love seeing parents get fired up during Community Night workshops. They have so many great ideas and opinions about summer learning, standardized testing, and just about everything related to their children’s education. It’s inspiring to see the creativity and persistence these parents devote to raising their students, and it’s great that that information gets shared with everyone in the space. I’ve learned a lot!