"Parents are the most important advocates our kids have," said Pedro Noguera, guest speaker for the event and one of the originators of the project. "Parents who get lost in voice mail can't advocate for their kids. What parents need to negotiate their children's success is access to information."
And now, ready to assist parents in filling that gap are two new Parent Liaisons who will staff the Resource Center: Lanita Mims and Beth Montano. Parents who have been frustrated or discouraged in past approaches to the school have a big surprise ahead. "The first thing you'll see is my smile," says Mims. "I want parents to feel welcome and secure. I want them to come in and see the surroundings, see for themselves the change in the tone of things. That includes lounging while their children are in school, having some coffee, tea or water, reading a parent magazine. Then we'll work on the problem. I'm a parent, too. The problems they have, I have overcome. The doors are open with any concern or question."
"A frequent problem," says Noguera," is that students lead a double life at home and school. They will do things at school they would never do at home if they thought their parents would know and their parents DO need to know. We need to reduce that separation."
Parent Liaison Montano sees herself as that bridge between parents and teachers. "I want to build a support system for parents that is enjoyable and productive. Parents, teachers and the entire school community need to function together like a small ecosystem in support of the students. We've put our youth in jeopardy." Montano knows what it feels like to be marginalized at school. Recalling her own early years, she says, "I remember being alienated at school. I had to learn English with no support. It gave me a dismal start and affected my later academic development. When kids get a bad attitude about themselves - get discouraged - they are likely to feel they can't succeed and that will certainly keep them from succeeding. I want to be a lighthouse for the parents."
The parent liaisons will also assist teachers learn how to communicate with parents. Frequently they don't know what kind of information parents need. At other times they are reluctant to call parents because they anticipate an unpleasant response. The Parent Resource Center hopes to address this issue in a workshop in the spring. Other workshops will be developed around topics that parents request.
PARENT RESOURCE CENTER
M-F, 9:00-1:00, staffed by Lanita Mims
M-F, 5-7:30 pm, staffed by Beth Montano
Saturday by appt. only
The Resource Center is located in the Old Gym, Room 1, near corner of Milvia and Durant, across the street from the tennis courts. To leave a telephone message at the center, please call 644-8524.
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