Yolanda Jones arrived at Colonial Middle School Thursday evening ready to gather all the information she could to help her son become a better student.
“We work on his homework every day,” Jones said. “I have him explain it to me and show examples. I want him to take better notes and when it’s something that I don’t understand, there’s always textbooks or I can always call, text or email his teachers.”
Jones wasn’t alone.
Nearly 400 parents participated in the school’s first “Parent Expo”, where parents were given access to the school’s language arts, math, social studies and science teachers at the fine arts sixth through eighth grade school.
There were 15 educational booths for parents to visit on Thursday night.
At Patricia Hervey’s booth, students and parents received worksheets about”12 Powerful Words,” which are typically used on the annual state tests and during classroom instruction. Hervey encouraged parents and students to review the words and the definitions frequently.
Some of the words on the list were “trace”, “analyze”, “contrast” and “summarize” and are used in questions on the state test.
Other booths included demonstrations of science experiments, math games and assistance for parents of Spanish-speaking and English as a Second Language students.
Parents also had the opportunity to take a piano lesson and watch student performances in choir, piano, dance and orchestra.
Attaining a high level of parental engagement is often the goal for classroom teachers and administrators. Research has shown that students with strong parental support at home, such as family reading and homework time – tend to perform better in school.
Colonial principal Marty Pettigrew advocates for what he calls the five areas of connectedness – students, staff, parents, community and programs.
“Our expo ties all of those things together,” he said.
It was a big undertaking to organize the event, but Pettigrew said he’d like to see it happen on an annual basis.
Parent Nevenia Hill said the most helpful information that she took away was from her daughter’s sixth grade language arts teacher and their discussion about Reading Plus, which is a computer-based program that monitors progress, teaches lessons and reviews with students.
“This was my first time meeting with her teachers and really getting an explanation about what they do in class and where she needed help,” Hill said. “Now I can go home and work with her in those areas. It’s better to meet with the teachers in person than it is to read a note.”
Hill said her daughter, Mina, finds reading more challenging than math.
“I’m really pushing her in reading and getting her to do more of it at home,” she said. Hill met with her daughter’s math teacher, Terrica Conley, about exercises she can also do at home.
Pettigrew is counting on the work of students, teachers and Reading Plus to improve the school’s reading scores. According to the state’s report card, Colonial’s reading scores have been stagnant over the past three years.
“This year, we’ll have higher reading scores,” Pettigrew said.
Other parents at the event walked the halls of Colonial Middle hopeful that their child will receive a spot at the optional campus.
Kenneth Woods and his daughters Breanna Rosser, an eighth grader at Sherwood Middle, and Taylor Woods, a fifth grader at Sherwood Elementary, stopped at Hervey’s booth.
“We’re trying to get her (Taylor) into Colonial,” said Woods, adding that he is concerned about his daughters stressing over tests.
“I worry about them because sometimes if you’re too nervous, you can mess up,” he said. “We try to help them at home, their older sister helps out too.”
Many parents stayed until the two-hour event was over at 7 p.m. Thursday. Jones and her son, Reginald were among the remaining group of people still in the building.
“As a parent, you have to be involved,” Jones said. “Parental involvement varies from school to school. I want my son to do well, so I’m here.”