Florida High School’s ‘Parent University’ Helps Navigate Learning Recovery
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In the midst of the ongoing impact of the pandemic on their children’s education, a high school counselor in Central Florida took the initiative to create "Parent University." This monthly gathering tackles various topics, from graduation requirements to student mental health. Counselor Leslie Paul’s objective is to assist parents in their children’s educational recovery and foster stronger partnerships between families and schools.
Paul emphasized the importance of educating parents in order to effectively educate students. The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a shift in our approach, and it is crucial to engage parents and help them comprehend these changes.
Every month since its launch in September 2022, "Parent University" has traveled between the school auditorium and local community centers, providing a platform for discussions with over 200 participating parents. Principal Adam Lane highlighted that Haines City High School, as a Title I school, serves families residing 20 to 30 minutes away. Parents have expressed appreciation for the opportunity to connect and seek clarification on topics covered during the meetings. In fact, some have even reached out to the school to ensure their understanding of the discussed matters.
Past meetings have focused on technology training, guidance on checking student grades, and assisting students with special needs. Additionally, guest speakers, including representatives from technical colleges and financial aid agencies, have been invited to guide parents on the next steps their children can take after graduation.
Paul emphasized the need to avoid assumptions that all parents are aware of current practices. Instead, the aim is to progress collectively and ensure parents are not left behind.
Amanda Steele, a parent at Haines City High School, expressed how these meetings have empowered her with the confidence to support her children’s academic progress. Steele shared, "To actively participate, stay informed, and attend official meetings has been truly remarkable."
Principal Lane resonated with Paul’s vision for "Parent University" from its inception. He stressed its significance, as he personally navigates his role as a principal during the day and a parent by evening. Lane, a father to a third-grade student, recognized the challenges of online learning during the lockdown and sought support. Reflecting on his daughter’s transition from remote learning to a blended approach, Lane realized the need for guidance to properly assist her. Even after 21 years in the field of education, Lane acknowledged that he, too, requires additional knowledge to support his child.
"Parent University" has provided countless parents, like Steele, with a valuable opportunity to understand how in-person schooling has changed post-pandemic. Lane shared his encounters with parents who aspire to enhance their involvement but acknowledge being out of touch with the current educational landscape. The concept of "Parent University" resonated with him, as it simplifies the process and empowers parents to better support their children.
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