Dragon Parents Association: Conversation with Christina Brown
Many schools have a Parent Teacher Association (PTA), only ours has a Dragon Parents Association (DPA). Our global community is so special, that it makes sense we have something uniquely ISDenver. If you are curious about how parents get involved and what opportunities are available, look no further than the DPA.
Let me be very clear about something. Somedays (or most days if you are anything like me) dropping off and picking up your kid from school is enough. In fact, it is more than enough! Parent involvement isn’t either expected or required. For those that do have the time, there are a lot of neat ways to plug in from Room Parents to Dragon Buddies to event planning to staffing our library to teaching an elective “X Block” in our Middle School.
I sat down with the 2022-23 Community Engagement Chair of the Dragon Parent Association, and founder of the Dragon Buddies Program, Chistina Brown, to learn more about her and her involvement in the DPA.
What three things should I know about you?
I grew up in Germany and moved to Mexico in my early twenties to gain experience in my profession and get to know the culture. Later on, I applied for a job in the US and lived and worked in several different states for international companies. While I immersed myself in a different culture, I learned it is vital to surround yourself with people who have had similar experiences to you because they can relate to you.
I love traveling, spending time with my family, bringing people together and creating friendships with like-minded people.
Additionally, I like to put myself out of my comfort zone by doing things like improv theatre.
Tell me a little bit about your family?
We are a multicultural family. I am German. My husband is American and my
daughter (15) and son (13) have both nationalities and will continue the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Littleton Highschool.We speak German and English at home and foster the connection to their culture with yearly visits to Germany.
What drew you to the International School of Denver? What made you stay?
We were looking for an International School in Colorado with a focus on immersion language that has a multicultural community. In addition, it was important that our kids continued on the IB path and after our look-and-see trip and the shadow day at the school, we knew we belonged here.
During Covid, we were impressed by how Bob Carignan, our Head of School led the school through the toughest, uncertain times. Keeping the school open during Covid was a tremendous effort on his team and he proved to be a strong leader. “When times get tough, leaders get really big or really small.” That made us stay.
What was your official capacity/role with the Dragon Parent’s Association?
In the first year, I started as a Community Engagement Chair. My goal was to revive our community, which suffered during the first year of Covid. I thought about what kind of events would be possible and would give parents the chance to meet each other as well as bring families together. In the second year, I continued that role and suggested and implemented the Dragon Buddies Program to strengthen the sense of belonging, especially for new parents.
Tell me a little bit about Dragon Buddies? How was the idea for Dragon Buddies Born?
I had a lot of conversations with a diverse group of parents (K1 through middle school). The common theme was: We love the school. My child is thriving but we as parents want to feel more connected. So, I thought if just one family reaches out to another family in the beginning of the school year, more connections will be fostered.
What is the point of the program?
Create a sense of belonging early on for every new family joining the school. The first 6 months are crucial for supporting those families. Moving countries / states or just switching schools is a big change in a families life. The sooner you feel connected the sooner you belong and can settle into your new environment. I also believe if you delay the connection building it might not happen at all and you feel awkward.
How does it work?
We ask for volunteers among all returning families who have been at the school for at least one year. These are then the dragon buddies. All new families will be given the option to join the program if they are interested. We created simple preference criteria (same language program, same grade, close living proximity) by which they would like to be matched with another family. If you can meet another family who has lived in Spain, France or China or has one parent who speaks the target language it makes your experience richer.
Did the first year of Dragon Buddies accomplish what you hoped?
Yes and beyond.
What do you hope to see in its second year?
I hope that families who have been welcomed warmly by their dragon buddy will pass it on in the next couple of years to make someone else feel welcome.
What is the best way for parents to get connected with DPA volunteer opportunities?
On our DPA website we have a quick link where parents can sign up for a role or even just to help at one event. If you have questions about a specific event you can also just e-mail Janet Yenter, the Director or Community Engagement.
What is a highlight from your time in the DPA? What will you remember most?
Our first Pumpkin Party in 2021. Covid was still going on but we realized that social connections were essential and it was rewarding to see the kids and parents join and engage and be so thankful for the space we created for them to make new connections.
We'd love to chat with you more about the Dragon Parent Association and our incredible, global community. Please reach out to the Admissions Team anytime!
The Embassy of Spain called the International School of Denver a "role model" for the International Spanish Academy.
One of the top questions we hear from prospective families is what opportunities are available for parent involvement. We tapped an expert, the Parent Chair of Community Engagement of our parent association, Christina Brown, to get her perspective.