Gregory Facey is a husband and father of children with hearing loss. Gregory is also a special education resource consultant and literacy advocate for students with disabilities. He serves on the Citizens’ Commission on Public Service and Compensation and is a member of the National Alliance of Black School Educator’s Parent Commission. Gregory lives by a quote from Booker T. Washington: “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
1. What do you remember most about your experiences getting engaged in your children’s education?
I knew after my children were born and finding out that they both had significant hearing loss that it was imperative to find resources to support them throughout their educational journey. Literacy and communication have always been prominent for me, and I wanted to make sure that my sons had access to as many opportunities as possible. My wife, who is a member of the Deaf community herself, took the lead on initial engagement for early childhood programs.
2. Is there anything you would like to share with other families about your experiences?
Building relationships with your kids’ teachers, school, district, and thought leaders in education is imperative for their success. We don’t know what we don’t know is very true for most parents. We all want the best for our kids. I find that what works well for one doesn’t work well for the other. Developing a strong community around your child’s education is the best thing that you could do for them. Stay engaged and stay involved. Join organizations, become invested in every aspect of your child’s educational journey. I watched my oldest son go from a struggling reader to see him go beyond his grade level during the pandemic. It’s important not just to be an advocate for your child but also to listen to your child. Trust me-they want to be just as involved in their educational journey as anyone else.
3. What are a few tips for families on getting engaged with education professionals at the program, school, or community level?
Know that every teacher is a professional. They are only one part of the education process, but a very important part to say the least. Become engaged with resources that your child will be exposed to; it’s very important. Know how those programs and resources are vetted, the credentials behind them, and how you as a parent need to navigate those systems to help with your child’s outcome. Find resources in your community to help your child stay engaged in learning. Lead by example and show them that curiosity and learning can be fun at any age.
4. What would you like the educational professionals who worked with you to know?
Know that I trust you and I hear you. Know that I see you and I value what you do. As the son of immigrant parents whose mother never passed 6th grade, she raised my siblings and I to respect leaders in our community and that includes teachers. She saw the value of literacy and what it could unlock for someone, especially a person of color. My mother was involved in every discussion in every conference with teachers to hear what they needed. She was always one of the first people to provide supplies, do whatever a teacher asked, and volunteer at almost every engagement to support teachers when I was growing up. These are the same traits that I continue to emulate to this day.
5. Do you see any barriers for fathers in engaging in their children’s education, and what suggestions do you have for early education professionals and educators who want to engage more fathers?
For me, it’s about being proactive and not reactive. To be completely transparent, sometimes, as fathers, we’re not always the first to be called when there are concerns with our child’s educational progress or development. However, I find that reaching out and connecting with my sons’ teachers frequently shows that I want to stay involved and am open to listening. Fathers must be engaged at the earliest stages of their child’s development. Continue to reach out and share opportunities for them to be involved. Continuing to engage with fathers and sharing opportunities to participate in positive school activities will help reinforce fathers to stay active.
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