Parental Involvement Urged More and More

Public Education's Role Expands
Posted on 06/27/2018
Image of Grants(as reported by Theresa Cottom, Beacon Journal)

Increasingly, schools are going beyond academics to teach social and emotional skills that help students avoid trouble.

But drug prevention experts say it takes a village.

A new initiative at Crouse elementary in Akron is using that mentality for a program geared toward getting parents more involved in their children’s lives.

The ENERGY Parent Academy, developed by the Minority Behavioral Health Group (MBHG), will be a year-long program grounded in African-centered values to increase parents’ role in their children’s education.

The program aims to engage, enlighten and empower parents through the seven core principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, creativity, faith, purpose, cooperative economics, collective work and responsibility. Parents will learn how to create a safe and secure environment for their kids while communicating openly with them and effectively preparing them for their day.

“We want to make sure parents become engaged in their child’s education, enlighten them of what should be happening and empower them to be an advocate for their child,” Crouse Principal Tara Bruce said.

She said while many parents at Crouse show support once their children succeed, the parental effort to help get children to that point is often minimal.

With ENERGY, Bruce hopes to target about 30 parents who want to be involved — but either find schools to be stressful or simply don’t know how to be involved effectively.

“Schools can be a stressful environment for someone who didn’t succeed there,” Bruce said.

Although Bruce approached the program as a way to increase parental involvement in the school, MBHG sees it as a drug prevention program as well.

MBHG, which has overseen several programs at Crouse, approached the school to become a pilot for the program. It is set to start in August and run through May, although the schedule of sessions is still being determined.

The program recently received a grant for $2,500 from the Summit County ADM Board to get started in Akron Public Schools at Crouse. It was one of 15 grants awarded by the Summit County ADM Board for prevention programs in school districts throughout the county this year, including Barberton, Nordonia Hills, Woodridge, Tallmadge, Twinsburg, Stow-Munroe Falls and Hudson.

“Parental involvement is a known protective factor against substance abuse,” said Jerry Craig, the executive director of the ADM Board. “Programs that engage parents have always been one of our areas of focus because of this.”

Recent guidelines for drug prevention programming in schools laid out by the state recommend programs that are evidence-based and don’t starkly address substance abuse, but rather address a child’s behavior and life skills. The guidelines also recommend schools involve parents for a whole-child approach to prevention.

The ENERGY Parent Academy is an attempt to do the latter, with hopes that it will improve the child’s behavior.

“The idea is to help them become more active in their community, especially their education community,” said Jennifer Jones, the interim coordinator of the prevention department at MBHG. “There is no way our children can be successful on their own. It’s going to require not just administration, not just teachers … it’s going to require parents to be there and be supportive.”

ENERGY will have a focus on literacy, Bruce said. And its basis on African-centered values doesn’t just emphasize the idea of community — it also resonates with the parent population at Crouse, which is 90 percent African-American.

“When you know yourself and your heritage, you have a positive connection to your self-worth,” Bruce said. “To empower parents and empower them as a person first … that positively affects their children.”
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