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Connect Home and School With the Family Story Project
—Karen L. Mapp, Ilene Carver, and Jessica Lander

About the Authors

Karen L. Mapp, Ed.D., is a senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the faculty director of the Education Policy and Management Master’s Program. She served as a consultant on family engagement to the U.S. Department of Education and currently serves as a consultant to the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) division of Scholastic Inc.

Ilene Carver has been a teacher in the Boston public schools for 20 years. Ilene spent three years working for the Center for Collaborative Education supporting teachers, principals, and parents across the city of Boston with family engagement and school coaching. She was a cochair of the Family and Community Education subcommittee for the Knowledge and Skills of Professional Teaching project, which contributed to the development of the standards for family engagement in the Massachusetts teacher evaluation process.

Jessica Lander, Ed.M., has taught middle school, high school, and university students in the United States, Thailand, and Cambodia. She has worked extensively with English learners, teaching English, history, and civics, and received the 2016 Richard Aieta Award for Promising Young Teacher in Social Studies.

Expert Idea

The Family Story Project

From Day 1 of the school year, we develop instruction that puts families at the center of what children are learning. We do that with the Family Story Project, which is part of a social studies unit. We ask students to turn to their families to investigate questions such as, “Where do I come from?” and “How does my history and culture shape who I am?” The answers bring our students’ experiences from outside the curriculum to inside, helping students understand that they and their families (and their classmates’ families) are all important agents in making history.

Weaving a Family Story Project into your curriculum sends a powerful message to families: “Your history, culture, and experiences are valued in our classroom. They are a part of the knowledge that we believe all children should know.”

Teach It

Tip Sheet Image

Download the Tip Sheet for ideas on how to carry out a Family Story Project remotely.


Watch and Learn

Three educators on initiating relationships with families.

Watch Dr. Mapp participate in “Strengthening the School-Family Partnership in a Pandemic,” an episode of the Education Now series from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Learn More

  • Read a Sample Chapter
    Click here to download a chapter and learn more about strategies for maintaining strong family ties.
  • Order the Book
    Click here to order Powerful Partnerships.