One of the things that I noticed as I visited outstanding schools across our state as the Florida Teacher of the Year is that each incredible school had an equally incredible parent component to their program and made sure that success was linked through the child to both the home and the school. As I sat back tonight and watched our own parents enjoy a Parent Fair, sponsored by our Special Education teachers, I was proud of the activities that we brought to families to make their work with their own child more successful.
The night began with a special presentation by Dr. Susan Syverud of the University of North Florida. Dr. Syverud, recommended to us by intern Heather Goode, grounded our night in the type of foundational activities that parents should do when reading with their child at home. Next parents chose from four different activities:
1. Working with Your ADD Child was a hit with special consultant Elaine Culvyhouse from Hope Haven. This well attended session went well over time as parents gained insight into working with an ADD child at home.
2. Parent who attended Reading Strategies were presented specific handouts and suggestions to help with reading nightly with their child. The session also highlighted videos of teachers from Chets Creek reading to their own personal children as a way for parents to see what reading at each age/ grade level looks like. This information and the videotapes are available at the Chets Creek website. On the left hand bar of the web site, just click Read to Your Child. Parents at this session were also given books to take home to read with their child! Wonder if they will go home and read with their child tonight?
3. Session Tree offered a hands-on demonstration of Math Strategies at each grade level. This session featured Chets Creek teachers Tammi Sani, Kathy Nelson, Debbie Rossignol, Wanda Lankford, and Christina Walag as they sat around tables with parents demonstrating and discussing math strategies that would help parents help their own child with homework. Each parent was also given a baggie of manipulatives to take home to use with the homework activities.
4. The final session was a preview of our favorite web sites for children by our own Media Specialist KK Cherney. She showed parents how to go on the Chets Creek web site, onto the Media portal to get to the best games and activities.
While all of these activities were going on downstairs, upstairs Principal Susan Phillips was meeting with our Spanish speaking families. With parents divided into three groups and a Spanish speaking teacher interpreting for each group, the parents discussed their needs and challenges. This annual meeting is a time for parents to be heard and for teachers and administrators to explain and meet the needs of this special population.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that child care was provided?! As many teachers were involved in sessions, others were involved in child care along with Extended Day helpers provided by Extended Day Director KK Cherney and paid for by our very own PTA!
So many people went into making the night successful but that's one of the nicest things about working at a school like Chets Creek. So many people are willing to rise to the occasions and chip in to make a night for parents worthwhile.