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Friend of NEAFCS award goes to Debra Landvik Letendre of MDE

By Mary Jo Katras, program leader in family resiliency

Debra Landvik Letendre, an educational specialist with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), has received this year’s Friend of NEAFCS-Minnesota Affiliate Award. NEAFCS is the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences. Extension staff and association members Kathleen Olson, Silvia Alvarez de Davila and Mary Jo Katras presented the award on behalf of the association at MDE offices on April 20.

Mary Jo Katras,Silvia Alvarez de Davila, Kathy Olson, and Debra Landvik Letendre at NEAFCS award ceremony.
Debra Landvik Letendre, education specialist with the Minnesota Department of Education, holds a bouquet of tulips and a certificate naming her the recipient of the 2018 Friend of NEAFCS-Minnesota Affiliate Award. With her, from far left, are Extension staff members Mary Jo Katras, Silvia Alvarez de Davila, and Kathy Olson.

The Friend of NEAFCS-Minnesota Affiliate Award, given annually, aims to recognize significant contributions to statewidefamily and consumer sciences educational programs. Debra has supported a number of Extension family and consumer sciences programs. She’s done this by developing educational materials, speaking on family life issues, and sponsoring educational workshops — particularly in the area of family engagement.

Debra has provided strong support to the Extension Center for Family Development’s Partnering for School Success (PSS) team. PSS is an initiative to narrow the achievement gap, primarily for students of color, in order to increase high school graduation rates and encourage continuing on to higher education.

Support for EOBL curriculum

This project began with the modification of the team’s “All Parents Are Teachers” booklet into the “Parenting for School Success” booklet in 2000. This in turn led to focus groups with diverse populations to determine their needs and then development of more resources for school success. One of those resources is the Education: Our Best Legacy (EOBL) curriculum, which is currently available in Spanish and English, and soon Hmong.

Debra served as a reviewer of the EOBL curriculum and currently serves on the Hmong School Success steering committee. In 2015-16, she invited the PSS team to partner with MDE to provide training on family engagement (FE) for K-12 schools. In 2017, and into 2018, the PSS team and MDE partnered again to provide FE training. They also worked together to provide facilitator training on the EOBL curriculum in both English and Spanish. Specifically, Debra has assisted in identifying schools to pilot the EOBL curriculum and the Hmong School Success project.

A true partnership

Developing these training sessions have occurred through a true partnership and co-creation, involving program development, marketing, teaching and evaluating. The support and involvement of MDE has been pivotal to the development and success of EOBL and other Extension resources for school success. We thank her for her partnership!

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