Parent engagement is a key strategic area for Boston Partners in Education. We believe that we can only be effective in supporting students in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) if we do so in partnership with their families and the community. We share this goal with BPS and its Parent University initiative.
For three Saturdays during the year, parents, families and caregivers come together at a sponsoring university – this fall it was Northeastern University – to participate in workshops and trainings. Sessions are offered in English, Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, and other languages; topics range from Raising Children in Two Cultures to Parents as Volunteers in the Classroom. The goals are to empower parents and families to strengthen learning and schools for student success, to close the achievement gap and promote proficiency for all children.
This is the second year that we are offering the Parents as Volunteers in the Classroom workshop. Our goal at Parent University is simple. We want as many parents as are available and able to volunteer in the classroom. We believe that their involvement in the academic life of a school significantly improves academic and social/behavioral development for students.
During the workshop parents explored the idea of mentoring in the classroom. They learned how building relationships with students helps in their academic development.
Our message to parents is two-fold:
1) They bring enormous talent and energy to the classroom
2) They bring back home in support of their child a keener understanding of the curriculum, instructional approach and academic and behavioral expectations.
For parents and family members who have participated, the next steps to getting into the classroom, if they choose, are to complete an application and the BPS background check process. We will then match them with a teacher identified student or small group of students.
In a college town like Boston, which seems to have more institutions of higher learning than Dunkin Donuts’, it’s difficult to create initiatives that are unique and powerful. Parent University is both. We are thrilled to be a part of an initiative that empowers families to enhance their role as learners, leaders, advocates, and educators for their children.
The next Parent University is January 28, 2011. We’ll post more details on our Facebook page as they become available.