Parents, students in forum for finer schools

By Aaron Curtis,

LOWELL -- After a brief icebreaker among the roughly 80 parents, students and other community members who gathered at the Senior Center on Monday night, it was on to a brainstorm on how to better Lowell Public Schools.

They were there for an event called the Your Voice Matters Community Action Forum, organized by the Lowell Education Alliance Resource Network or Project LEARN.

It started earlier this year, when members of the community gathered in "Community Circles" to discuss ways to improve education in Lowell.

The high turnout led to a decision to take the ideas generated at that time and focus on them during Monday night's forum.

The event honed in on ways to improve school-community engagement and the overall success of Lowell Public Schools by creating an action plan for the future of education in Lowell.

Deputy Superintendent Jeannine Durkin, who was on hand for the event, identified community engagement as a pillar of the district's strategic plan.

"Not only are our families diverse, but the needs that they have are diverse," she said. "We need to spend time listening to their voices and create action steps with them so that we are meeting the needs of the students and the families."