By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee
Congratulations is sent out to InCity Times‘ editor and publisher Rosalie Tirella on their 15th anniversary. The newspaper continues to be an alternative newspaper, with a goal to support those individuals most in need in our community.
One may not always agree with editor “Rose” (including me), but the idea of supporting, giving advice and advocating to those in need is a good concept. Rosalie grew up in the Green Island area of the city and knows the hardships that individuals experience – she has been a strong supporter of our inner-city parents.
As a matter of fact, at the age of 21, my first teaching assignment was at Lamartine Street School, and that’s where I first met Rosalie and her lovely mother. Rosalie was in my 5th grade class!
Since those early days, I have continued to reach out to our inner city parents with ideas and advice that hopefully make a difference in the lives of their children. I did it as a teacher, as the principal of Belmont Community School, and when I retired I still wanted to make a difference. That’s why I ran for Worcester School Committee.
Believing that a parent is a child’s first and most influential teacher – every school needs to have as its highest priority parent involvement within the schools.
You don’t need to be a researcher to know that family involvement can make a positive difference in school attendance, student behavior and academic achievement. What is needed is for schools to develop and ensure that parent involvement is embraced and not just given lip service. All schools need to welcome family members to their school. If schools don’t, the lack of positive interaction will stifle family-school connections.
Here are just a few suggestions for all schools:
Place positive signs on the schools entrance doors welcoming parents to the school.
Invite family members to eat lunch with their children. I can tell you that it works because I did it at Belmont Community School. We don’t have to feed the parents – they can bring in a lunch and spend time with their child. How about having lunch with parents on the first Friday of every month?!
Invite family members to attend workshops on important concepts that are taught to their children on a regular schedule. Inviting parents into the school for a special workshop does work! It serves as a way for the parents to assist their child at home.
Have staff and the principal make phone calls to invite families to participate in special events, meetings or other activities. Here in Worcester we have the Connect Ed. system where the school can invite parents to special events via the telephone.
Let’s go a step further and call parents with good news! It could be if a child had success on a test or just had a great day in school. Let me tell you it works! I did it for over 20 years at Belmont! Parents loved hearing good news and were more receptive in coming to school because of the call. Let’s start with that one positive telephone call.
Be sure that language translation is available in the office and for conferences and other contacts with parents.
Have workshops on reading and math. All families want to help their children, but many parents may not know how and that’s why the schools must reach out to our inner-city parents.
Have a family center stocked with learning materials that families can take home. Such a center would be a welcome addition for the schools . A Family Center should be part of each school – a special place in school where family members can meet, plan and implement programs.
In essence, schools must create a culture of wanting parents to be involved by modeling their beliefs, in both words and deeds, to the entire school community.
When families of all backgrounds are engaged in their children’s learning, their children tend to do better in school, stay in school and pursue higher education. Clearly, children at risk of failure or poor performance can profit from the extra support that engaged families and communities provide.
Remember, the research is clear: When parents play a positive role in their children’s education, students tend to do better in school. That all important teacher and parent PARTNERSHIP must be part of every school!
Good luck, InCity Times, on your 15th birthday and for the next 15 years! Continue your mission of involving inner-city parents in the learning process!