Toward Authentic Family Engagement with Counter-Narrative and Self-Determination


  • Deborah Wasserman Lifelong Learning Group at COSI
  • Ayize Sabater Morgan State University



counter narrative, culturally relevant pedagogy, family engagement, self-determination


Education scholars have demonstrated that family engagement contributes to academic success for urban children. To date, engagement models have invited families into schools. This paper presents an alternative model that invites schools into communities where families use culturally- grounded counter-narrative and self-determination to establish meaningful instances of authentic family engagement. Derived from the Youth Resiliency Institute’s Journey Project (Wasserman, Sabater, and Hill, 2017), this paper grounds the model in the relevant literature and explores relationships between the model’s theoretical components.


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Author Biographies

Deborah Wasserman, Lifelong Learning Group at COSI

DEBORAH WASSERMAN, PhD, is a Senior Research Associate at COSI’s Lifelong Learning Group in Columbus, Ohio. She has functioned as the National Rites of Passage Institute’s Evaluation Lead since 2010. Her program evaluation research focuses on using self- determination theory as direction for including typically marginalized voices in the program evaluation process.

Ayize Sabater, Morgan State University

AYIZE SABATER is a dynamic social entrepreneur, author and twenty-year White House awarded educator who has co-founded several non-profit organizations, including a Montessori Public Charter school. Mr. Sabater is currently a doctoral candidate in Urban Educational Leadership and his dissertation is exploring the relationship between parental involvement and urban student academic performance. Mr. Sabater’s research interests include parental involvement, Montessori education for marginalized children, social entrepreneurship, and transformative community building work by faith based institutions.