Trena Clark, a parent of four students at ResponsiveEd’s Tyler Classical Academy, does her part to help build a school community. Every month she writes a monthly newsletter with helpful advice for fellow parents at the east Texas school.
“Tim and I train adoptive parents so we read a lot and have a lot of tricks in the bag. I like quick tricks. I try to keep it short because I know parents can be inundated with too much information,” said Mrs. Clark.
Two years ago, Keith Garcia, campus director at Tyler Classical Academy, saw the growth the campus had experienced and was looking for ways to involve parents in the school. He thought a parent-run newsletter could help.
“I started by looking for a family we could spotlight by having them write a school newsletter once a month. While each teacher already sent out a weekly newsletter sharing with parents what their students are learning, I wanted to include a parent perspective. This year I asked the Clark family to help. My vision was to have it include ideas and pointers not just about importance of reading, but advice on how to incorporate family life with an eight hour school day,” said Mr. Garcia.
As a parent himself and a firm believer in ResponsiveEd’s philosophy of education being a partnership between parents and the school, Mr. Garcia looks for ways to involve parents.
This mindset is one of the reasons Mrs. Clark values Tyler Classical Academy.
“I love that they work with the parents and that the kids aren’t just one of many, but receive personal attention,” she said.
In addition to the newsletter, parents get involved in the school as room-moms and a fall festival. The whole school is involved and all of the families are invited to a day with games, food and community.
“Every room has their own booth. The room-mom is in charge of putting the booth together. They set it up and run it. We’ve had a petting zoo, snow cones, face-painting, dunking booths and food. It is a great time to have everyone around. We get local college athletes come to run the booths so parents can have fun too,” said Mr. Garcia.
Further south in the Greater Houston area, Sandra Gonzales, campus director at ResponsiveEd’s Vista Academy of Humble also believes parents are vital support for a school.
“The most valuable thing we did this year was get buy-in at the beginning of the year by letting parents know that they were welcomed and wanted on campus,” said Ms. Gonzales.
About every week the campus hosts a parent activity, which leads to parents helping the school in return. Through parent connections, the school has received donations from Lowes for science experiments as well as other donations from Chick-fil-A, Chuck-E-Cheese, H.E.B., and Starbucks.
At the campus National Parent Involvement Day is a big deal. Parents receive their students’ class schedules so they can plan where they want to spend their time. The parents can help in the classroom, learn from teachers some strategies to help their children with homework and eat lunch with their child or child’s teacher.
Raeshana Overton who has a second grader at Vista Academy of Humble, values the involvement the school encourages and has seen its powerful impact in her daughter’s work.
“Being involved in my child’s school is important because it promotes a healthy parental relationship. My daughter is confident that her hard work will pay off, especially when I make it to school sponsored functions and PTO meetings on her behalf,” said Ms. Overton.
Coordinating events for parents in addition to events for students can add some extra work, but Ms. Gonzales believes the extra work leads to manifold seen in students’ performance and the school community.
“Yes, it is a lot of work, but our parents love our campus and that makes our job so much easier,” said Ms. Gonzales.