Ms. Gwen E. Samuel is a mom of a child that attends a Connecticut public school. She is also an education freedom and social justice advocate. In addition, she is a community relations consultant with a national reach.
Ms. Samuel has founded three Connecticut community-based organizations on her advocacy journey. The Connecticut Parents Union (CTPU); the State of Black Connecticut Alliance; and, the Meriden Kids Walk Safe Coalition – Safe Routes to School Initiative.
Furthermore, in her advocacy role, Ms. Samuel has championed two historical parent empowerment bills that became law in Connecticut.
In 2010, Ms. Samuel championed Connecticut’s historical parent empowerment law modeled after California’s parent engagement law aka the Parent Trigger. As a result, Connecticut mandates, majority parent school governance councils to be implemented in every low performing school – over three hundred schools required by law to be implemented to date. Currently, she is working with parents for a parent trigger part two to ensure public school parents have true legal power to ensure the safety and academic success of their children and all students.
In 2011, the Connecticut Parents Union, an organization Ms. Samuel founded, spearheaded a Connecticut legislative effort that resulted in a law that stopped the felony arrest of parents, mostly single parents, women of color and/or poor, regarding school residency issues aka zip-code laws. In 2013, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed House Bill 6677 into law, which stops the felony arrest of parents who enroll their children in schools outside of their zip-code.
In 2017, Ms. Samuel launched a parent-led workshop series entitled Urban Experience in Family And Community Engagement (F.A.C.E.)—Helping Teachers Transition into Diverse Classrooms and Community”.
This parent led Urban Experience in Family And Community Engagement Workshop Series provides educators, administrators, and lead school support staff with solution-oriented strategies critically needed to build sustainable relationships with diverse parents, families, and communities who are marginalized in the educational system. This series leads to effective partnerships that nurture both teacher and student success in the classroom, regardless of school model.
Ms. Samuel has presented workshops at various educational conferences throughout the country, including the U.S. Department of Education entitled “Owning Your Parent Power – Changing the Rules of the Game”; as well as testifying before Congress at the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education. The hearing examined state and local efforts to increase parental engagement and educational opportunities.
In recognition of her work, Parenting Magazine selected Ms. Samuel as one of 51 moms, representing their state, at the inaugural Mom Congress on Education and Learning in D.C. She was featured in Parade Magazine, Mother’s Day edition, “Moms We Love: Four Women Doing Amazing Work to Help Others”. Also, Ms. Samuel was featured in the book about public education entitled “Waiting for Superman” and was a panelist for NBC’s Education Nation.
“Gwen,” as she is more affectionately known, is a graduate of Springfield College and has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services. Her passion and commitment is evidenced in her work that demonstrate organic, effective and sustainable practices that foster the academic and social/emotional development of children while strengthening families and communities.
Ms. Samuel strives to ensure that marginalized communities are active and informed citizens/voters that occupy space in every aspect of the civic engagement process. In addition, she strives to ensure every child has access to safe quality educational and economic development opportunities to help prepare them for the future workforce and life.
Ms. Samuel’s golden rule for parenting: Taking responsibility for our children’s K12 academic and social/emotional journey is something we must do, not something that is done for us but with us. – Gwen Samuel, Founder of the Connecticut Parents Union.