In Schools

Building Parent Leaders in Schools Whose Passion is to Have a Connected, Engaged Community

Our work is based on over 50 years of research indicating that students are more likely to succeed both academically and behaviorally when schools, families, and communities work together.

Parents As Leaders In Schools (PEN PALS)

PEN believes that parent engagement is a shared responsibility, where schools, agencies and organizations reach out to parents in meaningful ways, and parents actively support their children’s learning and development across multiple settings (CDC definition).

This includes ALL activities that parents undertake to help their children succeed in school and life.

The Basic Role of a PEN PAL

  • Serve as the bridge and main communicator between their school and Boulder Valley PEN
  • Become familiar with PEN resources and programs
  • Share information about PEN offerings with your school community
  • Attend our annual volunteer training – PEN Jump Start

PEN PALS are encouraged to:

  • Participate in PEN coaching on the National PTA Standards
  • Take advantage of our training opportunities, such our annual trainings on Hosting an Event, The Welcoming Greeters Program & the Newcoming Parent Mentor Program
  • Attend or volunteer for PEN Speaks educational events
  • Learn the theoretical foundations that support our work

PEN PALS are a main source of inspiration for PEN Speaks Educational Events. We support them in organizing and hosting events around topics that matter to THEM


Our Solution


The PEN model for enhancing parent engagement uses nationally recognized best practices, combined with interentional program development employing a design thinking process.

Using the PEN model, we

  • train and coach volunteers to bring resources to their school that minimize the dreaded “recreating the wheel” that drains parent volunteers and school staff alike.
  • connect schools directly with experts, programs and curriculum that is specific to their needs.
  • collect and share existing research-based tools and targeted information with volunteers, minimize their efforts.
  • make implementation of family – school – community partnership goals more systematized.
  • walk volunteers through a process that helps them get established in their role, identify and plug into existing resources, develop relationships with school and community allies, learn about themselves, and develop their own parenting skills

PEN brings the village to you, in the right ways at the right time, so that Parent Engagement is an active, responsive element of your school community.

Reach out to us today if you are a principal wanting a PEN PAL in your school, or a parent considering becoming a PEN PAL!

Newcomer Parent Mentor Program

Any transition serious enough to alter your definition of self will require not just small adjustments in your way of living and thinking but a full-on metamorphosis.” Martha N. Beck

Change can be difficult, even when it is expected and exciting. At PEN, we’ve learned that parents need as much support as their students during major transitions. PEN’s Newcomer Parent Mentor Program is designed to help parents with their child’s transition to elementary, middle or high school, and is a complement to Boulder Valley School District’s 360 Student Mentor Program in which upper-class students mentor incoming students.

A PEN Parent Transition Program Coordinator serves as an intermediary between the Administration wanting transition support, the PEN School Support Team that brings the expertise, and the Transition Program Mentors who have direct contact with incoming parents.

There are 3 levels of support available:

  1. The Basic Level – This is a good option if you have limited time, resources and/or allies.
  2. The Mentor Level – The Mentor Level requires more time and resources. PEN supports you in identifying a team of committed Parent Mentors.
  3. One-on-One level – This level is appropriate when you have time and extensive resources, as well as committed parents who can provide one-to-one support.

Contact Your PEN Support Team to Start a Mentor Program Today!

Our Solution

PEN believes in doing what we can to prepare parents for what to expect when their child moves from one school to another.  Parent Transition Programs connect seasoned parents with new, incoming parents. By doing this, we are able to offer support and assistance as new parents integrate into the school community.

PEN’s Parent Transition Program is very flexible and can be adapted to fit the needs and resources of individual schools.

The goals of this program are to:

  • proactively connect with incoming and new families to a school.
  • promote a welcoming school atmosphere.
  • provide parents with information to successfully navigate the transition into a new school.
  • encourage parent involvement in school activities.
  • support teacher and staff communication goals.
  • increase awareness of and connection to resources specifically relevant to their family.

Parental stress about entering a new school environment translates to an increase in student stress. This program creates a warm and welcoming environment that decreases the stress experienced by parents, students and staff. This helps students thrive!

This program was recognized as a promising partnership practice with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) in 2017 

Welcoming Greeter Program

“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Alexander Den Heijer

The Welcome Greeters Program is responsive to the first PTA National Standard for Parent Engagement, Welcoming ALL Families. In order to implement this program, Boulder Valley PEN and the school PEN PAL work with school administration and staff to identify ways that the program best fits the needs of their school.

Volunteers are trained to:

  • welcome parents and other guests into the school building
  • provide information and direction,
  • increasing safety measures in the school, and
  • enhancing the welcoming environment and overall school climate.

There are three ways in which PEN PALS can implement a Welcome Greeters Program in their school: (1) Welcoming Greeters, (2) School Tour Guides and (3) Event Greeters

Contact your PEN Support Team today to find out which program is best for you, and how to get started today!

Our Solution

Using PEN’s assessment and visioning support, schools identify which facets of the program best match their needs. The Program Coordinator works with school administration to develop support materials that are relevant to the school policies, procedures and logistics. That way volunteers are always aware of how to best fulfill on their role.

All parent volunteers are trained to:

  • be a positive face for the school,
  • be aware of the school policies and procedures,
  • answer basic questions posed by visitors, and
  • defer more complex questions to the appropriate party,
  • be culturally aware and sensitive, and
  • to engage with students in a supportive way.

The environment you create is as important as the content that is shared. Research shows that a culture of dignity, caring and respect in schools has a positive impact of the performance of staff and teachers, encourages parent involvement in schools, and drives student success. Creating this kind of environment is not just about completing a checklist, it is an ongoing comittment to a welcoming attitute that permiates the school.

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