Parental Involvement at North Highlands Elementary
The message on the school marquee in front of North Highlands Elementary reads “A good place to be.” Second year Principal Derek Morgan wants North Highlands’ parents and community to know he welcomes them to be involved in the education of the students there.Morgan is “excited and elated” at the school system’s attempt to increase parental involvement.He feels it will only make the existing level of involvement at North Highlands even stronger.
“Getting the support of parents and guardians is something we do already,” Morgan said.“We have done it before the Parental Involvement Project and will continue to do it absent of any mandate.It is an existing component of our school improvement plan.”
Part of Morgan’s administrative philosophy is to involve parents, families, and guardians, as well as area businesses, in the educational experience of North Highland’s students.In fact, he insists upon it.He expects the legal guardian of each of his 386 students to volunteer at the school for one hour each week but admits there are many who don’t.He says 40% of the parents can be counted on to get involved when needed.
Morgan’s goal for the Parental Involvement Project at North Highlands is to “change the perception that public school parents don’t care.”He wants the Back to School Committee at North Highlands to “make a significant impact” on the parents and guardians who do not participate in their child’s education and he knows who he needs to reach.
Morgan keeps a Student Assignment/Achievement Card on every student.On each card he not only tracks student’s progress in subjects like math, reading, and language arts, but also rates parental and family involvement.Four categories, “Very involved,” “Often involved,” “Involved when needed,” and “Never involved” indicate the level of participation from home.Morgan has a number of students who are succeeding despite no parental involvement, but has stacks of cards indicating high levels of student achievement with parents and families who volunteer and participate at the school.
Morgan also has a “Parent Concern Book” he shares with every family at the start of the school year detailing his expectations from them.He also has “Parent Concern Forms” available for families to detail their questions so every concern will be addressed.
North Highlands also has a full-time parental liaison on staff.Esclamonda Fisher is beginning her seventh year at the school.Morgan describes her as “an invaluable asset.”“She is the vital link between families and the school” Morgan said.Fisher makes home visits on a regular basis for a variety of reasons but mainly to “keep families involved and informed about their child’s education and make sure no student falls through the cracks.”“Fisher’s presence on campus and in the community has enhanced the overall administrative productivity and efficiency,” Morgan said.
Morgan is confident the Parental Involvement Project at North Highlands will be a success, although system-wide implementation is a bigger challenge.“We all need to stop saying public education won’t work.People need to stop saying ‘I can’t’ and start saying ‘I can.’When you change the way people think, you can change their behavior,” Morgan said.“This is already working at North Highlands, so it can work everywhere.We all just need to get out there and do it.”
Principal Brister in Washington, D.C., to Accept McKinley Middle School’s Second Blue Ribbon Award
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Principal Herman Brister (pictured, left) and the school’s Teacher of the Year, Lynn Williamson (right), were in Washington, D.C., accepting McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School’s National Blue Ribbon Award from U.S. Department of Education’s Director of National Blue Ribbon Schools Program Aba Kumi (center). The event, which recognized some 314 schools from across the United States, was held at the Omni Hotel. Click herefor story.
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