Parent, Family and Community Engagement

The Agency of Education recognizes the importance of partnerships between schools and families to improve outcomes and ensure equity for all students. This page provides parents/families, community members and school districts resources to advance parent/family engagement.

On this webpage, the term family is used rather than parent. We do this to ensure that our language is inclusive of all individuals who are responsible for the care and education of a child. Students may live or be cared for by parents, grandparents, foster parents, siblings, aunts or uncles, or have other non-traditional family structures. By using the term family we hope to make all caregivers feel welcome and included. 

Section List

Family Engagement Core Principles and Family Engagement Toolkit and Self-Assessment

Family and Community Engagement Practice Highlights

Family Engagement Resources Provided by the Agency of Education

Resources from Other Agencies and Providers

Family Engagement Core Principles and Family Engagement Toolkit and Self-Assessment

Explore each core principle and what each looks like in practice.

Creating a Welcoming Environment Icon 
  Creating a Welcoming Environment


Building Effective Two-Way Communication Icon 
  Building Effective Two-Way Communication


Supporting the Success of Students Icon 
  Supporting the Success of Students


Sharing Power and Responsibility Icon   
  Sharing Power and Responsibility


Partnering with the Community Icon   
  Partnering with the Community


Providing Equity and Access Icon   
  Providing Equity and Access


Ensuring Sustainability Icon   
  Ensuring Sustainability


Vermont Family Engagement Toolkit Introduction (video): This 13-minute video outlines aspects of the Vermont Family Engagement Toolkit and Self-Assessment and suggestions to get you started.

Vermont Family Engagement Toolkit and Self-Assessment (FETSA): The Vermont Family Engagement Toolkit and Self-Assessment is designed to be an easy-to-use, practical guide for educators seeking to develop and maintain growth of school or Supervisory Union/District family engagement work, including for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

The Family Engagement Toolkit and Self-Assessment is designed to be used in its entirety to assess all family engagement aspects of the system. 

The Family Engagement Self-Assessment is designed to be completed by teams of school personnel who have the information necessary to reflect upon the spectrum of family engagement practices within a school from the individual teacher level to whole-school initiatives. Ideally, teams should consist of administrators, teachers, related service providers, families, and school family engagement coordinators if available. Individuals may also use this Self-Assessment to reflect on their own practice. (FETSA pg. 12

Family Engagement for Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team Members: Ensuring Meaningful Participation by Families: This resource provides strategies for Individualized Education Program Team members to consider to develop a more comprehensive approach to family engagement for families of children with disabilities. These strategies may also support school or district family engagement efforts. The strategies are organized by Family Engagement Core Principles and align with the Family Engagement Toolkit and Self-Assessment.

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Family and Community Engagement Practice Highlights

These Southwest Vermont SU exemplars incorporate Partnering with the Community by bridging services and creatively Supporting the Success of Students 

Sharing recognition of Family Engagement Specialist Trisha Wright who received an award from Sunrise Family Resource Center and highlighting a virtual family literacy opportunity shared in the SVSU Monthly Family Edition.

Family Engagement Specialist Receives Recognition from Sunrise Family Resource Center 

Trisha Wright
Trisha Wright

Trisha Wright, one of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union’s five Family Engagement Specialists, has recently been nominated for a 2022 Sunrise Community Partner Service Award. For Ms. Wright, this honor speaks volumes of the hard work put in over the past year. The honoree and her fellow Family Engagement Specialists build trust from the ground up. They started the last school year by showing up to different communities, snacks in hand, trying to make connections in any way possible. “We worked together closely and learned to really collaborate,” the honoree said. “We are in the schools, so we can support that communication. But with Sunrise, they can help families who need a little bit extra. We can provide the school-based supports, but they can assist with more day-to-day family support.” Congratulations Trisha!

Virtual Literacy Game Night is an online opportunity for 2nd grade students and families. Families are invited to engage in this literacy event and receive free materials. See the October SVSU Monthly Family Edition for other opportunities and practices that strengthen family and school partnership.  

The following highlighted AOE resources and opportunities support and exemplify the core principles of family engagement.

For Families and Educators 

Monthly Resources from the Vermont AOE and Public Partnership
Vermont PBS Kids & Education Logo

The Vermont Agency of Education and Vermont Public continue our partnership to meet the anywhere, anytime, educational, social and emotional needs of Vermont students. Visit the Vermont Public Kids and Education page to find recommendations for high-quality media and resource collections. Check back each month for more Vermont Public Kids and Education resources connected to monthly themes.

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Family Engagement Resources Provided by the Agency of Education

The headings for families and for educators are intended to guide you to relevant resources.

Vermont Multi-tiered System of Supports (VTmtss)

Strengthening Family Engagement through a systemic approach.

Vermont Multi-tiered System of Supports (VTmtss) is a systemic approach to decision-making for excellence and equity within a culture of continuous improvement that focuses on successful outcomes for all students.

Families are a critical part of VTmtss as this systemic approach:

  • Supports the effective collaboration of all adults to meet the academic, behavioral, social and emotional needs of all students, and;
  • ​​​Engages and develops the collective expertise of educators, students, family and community partnerships.

VTmtss Framework Tools Connections to the FETSA: 

  • The VTmtss System Screener will help you identify a family engagement opportunity within your system.  
  • The Family Engagement Self-Assessment can be used in conjunction with the VTmtss Driver Diagram to gather additional systemic data to identify a family engagement-related problem of practice. 
  • When an LEA has identified a problem of practice the self-assessment (in whole or in part) can be used to analyze practices and prioritize action steps. 
  • The Family Engagement Making Connections with VTmtss  in conjunction with the VTmtss Driver Diagram, identifies which VTmtss components align and supports a Family Engagement problem of practice.  

For Educators

Educational Support Team: A Deeper Look: Defines what Educational Support Team (EST) is in our current context with suggestions for creating and maintaining an effective EST. Emphasizes the importance of supporting parents in being active participants in children’s EST for effective collaboration to identify needs and supports.

Parent/guardian participation in EST meetings regarding their children is critical. Ideally, parents attend meetings but if they cannot, the EST should solicit parent input to the decisions.

Strengthening Family Engagement: Overview of the Family Engagement Toolkit and Self-Assessment and Other Family Engagement Resources Recording 
Looking for ways to expand your family engagement, assess your current practices, and integrate this vital aspect into your VTmtss Framework? Explore the VTmtss Team's Strengthening Family Engagement: Overview of the Family Engagement Toolkit and Self-Assessment and Other Family Engagement Resources closed-captioned recording and slide deck, which dives into the AOE's Family Engagement Toolkit and Self-Assessment and offers best practices for involving the community. 

After School and Summer Programs

Opportunities to strengthen family engagement outside of the school day.

For Educators

Funding for Afterschool and Summer Programs: The Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers program funds 100 centers in Vermont schools. Families and K-12 youth may participate, teach, and engage with programming in their schools. These programs support students' learning and interests through diverse and engaging programming using multiple approaches and curricula. Programs are delivered through schools and community partnerships for grades K-12.

Early Education

The Vermont Early Education Guiding Principles describe what individuals, organizations, and communities understand and do to realize the promise of each and every young Vermont child. These principles articulate Vermont’s commitment to fully include each and every child and their family in a continuum of meaningful experiences to ensure their health, mental health, safety, happiness and success now and into the future.

For Families with Children Birth to Age 8

Answers can be found for the following questions in Resources for Families of PreKindergarten Students.

  • What is Universal Prekindergarten Education (UPK)?
  • How old does my child need to be to qualify for UPK?
  • Where can I find a UPK program for my child? Prequalified Providers Directory
  • How do I sign up?
  • What does UPK funding cover?

UPK Café Issue

PreK Learning from Home: Supplemental Resources for Families (4/28): This supplemental guidance is intended to help families support their child’s learning in the home environment, with resources that are grounded in the Vermont Early Learning Standards.

Family Resources: Vermont Early Learning Standards (VELS) family materials include family-focused activities, articles, and national resources designed to help you engage in learning with your child. The resources are categorized by these core learning domains:

  • Developing Self​
  • Communication and Expression​
  • Learning About the World

English Learner

To help ensure that English Learners (ELs), including immigrant children and youth, attain English proficiency and develop high levels of academic achievement in English in order to meet challenging state academic standards. 

The program awards Title III English Learners and Immigrant subgrants to eligible local education agencies and provides technical assistance and professional learning related to meeting the diverse needs of English Learners, including:   

  • Planning and implementing effective language instruction educational programs (LIEPs) and curricula on teaching ELs 
  • Identifying or developing, and implementing, measures of English Language Proficiency (ELP) 
  • Strengthening parent, family, and community engagement in programs that serve ELs 

The VTAOE belongs to the WIDA Consortium, housed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. The consortium is an organization comprised of states, territories, and federal agencies whose goal is to provide language development resources for educators who support the academic achievement of ELs.  

For Families and Educators 

Two Fact Sheets from U.S. Department of Education’s website: These fact sheets are also translated into eleven different languages. 

Dear Colleague Letter: English Learner Students and Limited English Proficient Parents, Office of Civil Rights, US Department of Education: Includes a section on Ensuring Meaningful Communications with Limited English Proficient Parents 

For Educators 

The WIDA Website and Resource Library provide many resources which support schools in their work with English Learners. 

  • WIDA Resources, letters and flyers, in multiple languages, explaining ELL Status, ACCESS scores, and communication and planning suggestions with a language focused approach. 
  • Vermont WIDA webpage: Educators can find state-specific information related to assessments, professional learning opportunities, state policies and procedures. 
  • For a list of 2021-22 Professional Learning Offerings, self-paced on-demand, eWorkshops: Interested educators should contact their district’s WIDA account coordinator. The workshop below focuses specifically on Family Engagement. 
    • Classroom Teachers: Engaging Multilingual Newcomers: This eWorkshop explores what educators can do to welcome and engage multilingual newcomers and their families into their classrooms and schools. 

Requirements, Applications, Laws

Information on assessing and strengthening parent/family engagement through requirements, applications and laws.

Consolidated Federal Grants

For Administrators

Consolidated Federal Grants provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.

Consolidated Federal Programs Guide to Title I, Part A Parent and Family Engagement: This toolkit includes information and resources for Title I, Part A requirements for parent and family engagement, including policies, compacts, annual meetings, and parent involvement activities.

Title I, Part A: Parent and Family Engagement: This video focuses on the Title I, Part A requirements for parent and family engagement, including policies, compacts, annual meetings, and parent involvement activities. It provides an overview of the allowable uses of the Title I PFE set-aside and multiple resources to create an effective PFE program at the LEA and school level.

Data and Reporting

Examine information on school, educational, student, and financial data that the Agency of Education collects each year from Vermont's education community.

List of Data and Reports: Each year, the Agency of Education collects school, educational, student, and financial data from Vermont's education community. The information collected helps inform agency staff, schools, educators, and taxpayers about the functionality and success of Vermont's education system. Includes Vermont Education Dashboard, assessment data, and Vermont Annual Snapshot.

Health Services

For Families and Educators

Concussion Guidelines: The law requires that schools educate their coaches, their youth athletes, and the youth athletes’ parents and guardians regarding the prevention and mitigation concussion-related injuries. Under 16 V.S.A. §1431, responsibility to ensure compliance with these guidelines falls on principals of public schools, and on heads of approved independent schools.


For Families

Free and Reduced Meal Application: Apply for Free and Reduced Lunch. Check to see if you're eligible for free and reduced school meals.

Personalized Learning

For Families and Educators

Act 77 Law Personalized Learning: This 2013 law paved the way for schools to work with every student in grade seven through grade 12 in an ongoing personalized learning planning process, and states that the process includes participation by families and other engaged adults. Act 77 defines Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) as: documentation of an evolving plan developed on behalf of a student in an ongoing process involving a secondary student, a representative of the school, and, if the student is a minor, the student’s parents or legal guardian and updated at least annually by November 30; provided, however, that a home study student and the student’s parent or guardian shall be solely responsible for developing a plan.

Special Education

Resources are intended to help families partner collaboratively with IEP Teams and to make overall decisions about special education services for their children with disabilities eligible for special education services under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). More information can be found on Special Education Resources for Families webpage.

For Families and Educators

Resources as well as rights, roles and responsibilities of all involved in a child's education.

Parent Rights in Special Education: Parents have specific rights concerning their participation in the special education process. These documents should help guide you through this process.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) strongly supports the rights of families to be involved in their child's education. These pages will help families to understand the rights, roles, and responsibilities of all parties involved in making decisions about a child's education.  Additionally, these pages provide evidence-based tools and resources designed to educate and empower families in supporting their children to succeed in school and beyond.

Rights of Parents of Students with Disabilities: Parents of children who receive or who may be eligible for special education services have rights under a law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This brochure provides a summary of those rights.

Special Education Parent Involvement Survey: The IDEA State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report Indicator 8 requires states to measure the percent of parents who report that the school facilitated parent involvement as a means of improving services and results for children with disabilities. The Special Education Parent Involvement Survey is mailed to parents yearly and informs the Agency of Education, as well as Supervisory Unions/Districts, how parents feel about their school’s efforts to create meaningful partnerships with them and how they believe schools can better meet their child’s special needs.

Additional Resources

Student Learning

What and how we are learning and how families as stakeholders are involved.

Find explanations and resources for Content Areas, Career Technical Education, Proficiency-Based Learning, Personalized Learning, Project-Based Learning, Flexible Pathways, Adult Education, and A Portrait of a Graduate.   

For Families

Lexile and Quantile Frameworks Page Tools

Lexile measures help educators and parents find reading materials at each student's unique reading level, engaging students in learning by ensuring they comprehend their reading materials and monitoring their progress over time.

Quantile measures help educators and parents target instruction and monitor student growth toward learning standards and the mathematical demands of college and careers.

For Families and Educators

Proficiency-Based Learning:

  • What is Proficiency-Based Learning: This document provides the characteristics of a proficiency-based learning system and de scribes its connections to Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements (PBGRs)and Personalized Learning.
  • Proficiency-Based Grading Practices: This document provides an overview of what a proficiency-based grading system is and why it is important. Sample practices from districts around Vermont are provided.

Personalized Learning:

Dual Enrollment: The Dual Enrollment program allows eligible Vermont students the opportunity to take up to two credit bearing college courses while receiving high school and college credit before they graduate. Program is open to juniors and seniors.

Early College: The Early College program allows eligible Vermont students in grade 12 to receive a high school diploma and complete a full year of college at the same time.

Safe and Healthy Schools webpage includes the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model as well as AOE Comprehensive Health webpages.

Vermont Public: The Vermont Agency of Education and Vermont Public have expanded their partnership to support learning for Vermont students, families, and school communities this school year and beyond. This partnership provides access to free educational programming, curricular connections, and distance learning tutorials through Vermont Public.

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Resources from Other Agencies and Providers


For Families and Educators

Building Bright Futures - Vermont’s Early Childhood State Advisory Council: The mission of Building Bright Futures (BBF) is to improve the well-being of each and every child and family in Vermont by using evidence to inform policy and bringing voices together to discuss critical challenges and problem solve. Children are supported through BBF at the family, community, and systems level and there are many ways to get involved. Most meetings are open to the public, and everyone is encouraged to participate. Opportunities to participate include:   

  • Regional Councils: 12 Early Childhood Councils bring together regional early childhood partners to identify the needs and challenges of children, families, educators and providers on the ground and serve as an essential part of the BBF Network.  
  • Vermont’s Early Childhood Action Plan Committees: There are eight committees, each focusing on a part of Vermont’s 5-year strategic plan.  
  • Families and Communities Committee: The BBF Families and Communities Committee works to strengthen and expand family partnership and leadership opportunities across the state at the provider, agency, and community levels.  
  • Vermont’s Early Childhood Data and Policy Center ( Using data and evidence to inform policy is a key component of how we can improve the well-being of children and their families across Vermont. is the go-to source for the most high-quality, up-to-date information on the status of children and families across sectors using Vermont-specific, national, and community data sources.  

Hunger Free Vermont: The mission of Hunger Free Vermont is to make long-term, systemic changes to end hunger and malnutrition in dignified ways for Vermonters of all ages. 

  • Get Food Help: 3SquaresVT +, Food for Children in School or Childcare, WIC, Food for older Vermonters (60+), and Other Food Resources  

NFI Family Center (Northeastern Family Institute) is an outpatient mental health clinic providing comprehensive services to children, adolescents, families, and adults. 

For Families

  • Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families, University of Vermont. Through the Vermont Family Based Approach find supports needed to be nurturing, confident and to lead your family in strengthening their young brains. Explore the Domains of Wellness: Kindness and Gratitude, Mindfulness, Music, Exercise, Sleep, Parenting and Nutrition. 
  • At the Family Center, we specialize in family systems and family therapy. Even when we work with adults or adolescents individually, we retain a strong family framework. Our goal is to help families interrupt patterns of intergenerational trauma and foster healthy, caring relationships.  

For Educators 

  • The Trauma-Informed Schools Program is a resilience-focused consultation and training program helping schools become better equipped to address the impact of trauma and adversity and increase resilience and healing. 

Vermont Consortium for Adoption and Guardianship: The Vermont Consortium for Adoption and Guardianship is comprised of agencies, groups, and parents from around the state who have joined together for a common purpose: to support Vermont's families formed through adoption or guardianship.

For Families
For Educators

Vermont Afterschool: The mission of Vermont Afterschool is dedicated to strengthening programs, building partnerships, and transforming communities so that all Vermont youth are active, engaged, connected, and heard.

  • Youth Resilience: Strategies for the Third Space: This report outlines strategies to promote prevention in communities affected by opioid. It includes Afterschool Programs and the Connection to Prevention, review of other models, and recommendations.

Resources for Vermont Families: This reference document includes links and contact information for agencies with Vermont offering resources available to families and their children, including services for mental health, child care subsidies, crisis prevention, and child care.

PBIS: This page includes resources for families and school teams. Families can learn more about how to bring positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) into their home, review virtual learning resources, and learn about what PBIS looks like at school. School teams can access family engagement modules, resources from the National PBIS TA Center, see examples from Vermont schools, and more.

For Families
For Educators

Vermont Family Network: The mission of Vermont Family Network is to empower and support all Vermont children, youth, and families, especially those with disabilities or special health needs. We do this by giving a strong start, lifting family voices, and advancing inclusive communities. Our vision is that all Vermont children and youth reach their full potential.  

  • The Family Support section offers information on VFN programs for families, and resources and workshops on many topics including General Education, Special Education, Early Childhood and Transition to Adulthood. Additional resources augment Puppets in Education performances your child might have seen at their school. 

SWIFT Family and Community Report for Vermont: Identifying and mapping available community-based resources within the state. (See SWIFT tools below.)

Outside Vermont

For Families 

Peace at Home – helping parents raise confident, resilient children from prenatal development through young adulthood.

  • Parenting classes, free monthly classes, recordings, and handouts

For Educators 

Panorama: Why Your District Needs to Administer a Family Engagement Survey—and 21 Questions You Can Ask

  • Family-School Relationship Survey: A survey tool to help educators gather feedback and engage families in their school communities. In it, you’ll find over 100 questions that elevate family voice in their child’s educational journey. Developed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education  

Learning for Justice: Partnering With Families to Support Black Girls, by Adam Alvarez, and Eshe Price (article with links and questions for reflection). Educators can take specific actions to make schools more supportive spaces for Black girls, whose trauma is often overlooked.

SWIFT is a national technical assistance center that builds whole system—state, district, school, and community—capacity to provide academic and behavioral support to improve outcomes for all students.  

Joining Together to Create a Bold Vision for Next Generation Family Engagement Engaging Families to Transform Education, by the Global Family Research Project for Carnegie Corporation of New York.

  • Identified are five promising, high-leverage areas that can serve as “building blocks” for the next generation of family engagement strategies: reducing chronic absenteeism, data sharing about student and school climate indicators, the academic and social development of youth in and out of school, digital media, and the critical transition periods in children’s learning pathways.
  • Suggestions on where to concentrate efforts to move the field of family and community engagement ahead— local community initiatives, capacity building and professional development, data pathways, public policy change, and public communication and engagement strategies.

Text4Family Services, The National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (NCPFCE). A text messaging service for family services professionals, supervisors, and other staff who work directly with families is tailored to support and enhance the vital work you do every day.

When you sign up, you will receive free text messages, including:

  • Two to three texts messages per month with information and links to helpful resources to strengthen your practice with families
  • Additional messages about:
    • Upcoming parent, family, and community engagement (PFCE) professional development opportunities and new resources
    • Office of Head Start campaigns and initiatives

Engaging Families in Out-of-School Time Programs Toolkit, by the Build the Out-of-School Time Network (BOSTnet). Best practice tools and strategies to strengthen after school and youth programs by increasing family engagement.

Family Engagement in Education: Creating Effective Home and School Partnerships for Student Success, a four-day institute prepares educators to create a school culture that honors and respects the knowledge that families bring to the learning process, participants study best practices in family engagement and identify strategies they can use to promote student learning and improve educational outcomes for all.

Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School and Partnership (version 2), designed to support the development of family engagement strategies, policies, and programs.

Resources National Family Support Network - Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening and Support:

  • The Standards address five areas of practice important for any Program or individual working with families through 17 standards, each with Foundational and High-Quality Indicators and implementation.
  • Tools designed for effective implementation of the Standards
  • Standards Certification Training opportunity

Educational Justice Starts with Equitable Family Engagement: Riddhi Divanji, Ella Shahn, and Sydney Parker, Foundry10 (article)
Key takeaways for family engagement and equitable survey design collaborations with families and communities to help build equitable family engagement into their professional practice.

  • Designing surveys and sharing data with a wide range of stakeholders results in a deeper understanding of the data from multiple perspectives

  • Strategies such as:

    • use the computer lab and help families complete surveys

    • engage community organizations to connect with families

    • hold focus groups to explain survey to families

A Family Friendly Partnership School presents 100 Ways to Make Your School Family Friendly (virtual tour - 9:48 min) including 16 different locations: parking lots, signage, gyms, maps, and welcome areas--and more.  

Creating Authentic Partnerships with Historically Marginalized Families and Other Stakeholders: Embracing an Equity Mindset: Alexandria Harvey, WestEd, National Center for Systemic Improvement (ncsi) (article)  

  • This resource can be used to think about what changes are needed to create authentic opportunities for partnership that can improve learning conditions and outcomes for historically marginalized populations.  
  • Formed Families Forward, a family-led nonprofit, in conjunction with the Virginia Tiered Systems of Supports project, presents Equity in Education Through Family Engagement. (video - 10 mins) 
    • This video features family and educator voice and offers schools and families strategies for increasing educational equity through strong family engagement. Video is captioned in Spanish and an accompanying fact sheet is available too.  
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) resources: 

Embracing a New Normal: Toward a More Liberatory Approach to Family Engagement by Karen Mapp and Eyal Bergman. This report calls for embracing the “new normal” of the post-pandemic school-family dynamic, and for seizing the moment to build a “family engagement that is liberatory (free of dominance), solidarity-driven (in union and fellowship), and equity-focused (fair and just).” (report)  

Global Family Research Project: A new tool from the Global Family Research Project (GRFP) and the National PTA’s Center for Family Engagement that gives families, schools, and parent leaders simple, proven strategies for creating ongoing relationships to support student success. The tool is based on “Joining Together to Create a Bold Vision for Next-Generation Family Engagement,” GFRP’s paper summarizing important findings on why family members are important to children’s learning.

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Please contact the following for questions regarding specific topic(s).

Emanuel Betz, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (After School and Summer Programs)

Tracy Harris, Special Education

Nancy Hellen, Vermont Multi-tiered System of Supports

Stephanie Vogel, Title III, EL State Program Director                                                                       

Jessie Murray, Title I

Sigrid Olson, Personalized Learning

Michele Johnson, Early Education