Empowering parents
by TCT Staff
June 26, 2014 10:21 PM | 1509 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Hicks, director of the YMCA in Cherokee County, shares his thoughts on parent involvement during one of the Family Leadership Institute sessions. Other panelists are Zack Blend, with Goshen Valley Boys Ranch; Lori Davis, Renasant Bank; state Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), and Kerry Voytek, CCSD teacher on special assignment for Migrant and ESOL. <br> Special to the Tribune
John Hicks, director of the YMCA in Cherokee County, shares his thoughts on parent involvement during one of the Family Leadership Institute sessions. Other panelists are Zack Blend, with Goshen Valley Boys Ranch; Lori Davis, Renasant Bank; state Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), and Kerry Voytek, CCSD teacher on special assignment for Migrant and ESOL.
Special to the Tribune
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Kerry Voytek, Cherokee County School District teacher on special assignment for Migrant and ESOL, explains how the school district works with students and families who are not fluent in English. CCSD’s ESOL program serves students speaking more than 40 different languages — the most common languages spoken are Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Russian and Portuguese.
Kerry Voytek, Cherokee County School District teacher on special assignment for Migrant and ESOL, explains how the school district works with students and families who are not fluent in English. CCSD’s ESOL program serves students speaking more than 40 different languages — the most common languages spoken are Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Russian and Portuguese.
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Parents from Canton Elementary School STEM Academy and Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy participated recently in a grant-funded “Vision and Voice” Family Leadership Institute recently sponsored by United Way of Greater Atlanta.

The 22 participants attended a series of workshops and finished the program by presenting their ideas for community projects to a panel of local service organization leaders.

Canton and Hasty are Title I schools with significant low-income populations and high numbers of families whose native language is not English, both of which are typically barriers to parental involvement, according to a release from the school district. Sixteen of the parent participants in the program were Spanish-speaking, but translation services were provided for the workshops when needed, the releases said.

The overall goal of the program was to strengthen the parents’ abilities to be leaders of themselves, their family and their community.

Hasty had 10 participants in the program, said Hasty ES Principal Izell McGruder, and they enjoyed getting to network with other parents outside their neighborhood as well as gaining new leadership skills and awareness.

“We’ve said it many times before, but I think our participating parents now realize that the benefits of parental involvement in school are endless,” McGruder said. “Involved parents have students who exhibit more positive attitudes toward school and who also develop a more positive self-esteem. Involved parents can also set higher, yet realistic, expectations for their child’s academic performance because they are informed of what’s happening in school.”

Canton Elementary STEM Academy had 12 parent participants in the Family Leadership Institute program. Principal Beth Long said she was thrilled with the impact of the workshops and applauded Canton ES parent Deana Bearden, who helped facilitate the program, for all her work on it.

Bearden said the Family Leadership Institute served as an excellent way to build leadership capacity within parents; it allowed them to gain valuable skills and learn about available community resources that will continue to help them grow as leaders in their home, school and community.

“We are already beginning to see how the leadership program has empowered our parents as they are advocating for the implementation of adult English literacy classes to be offered at the school,” Bearden said. “Additionally, these same parents recently participated in a Title 1 annual revision meeting where they served as group leaders and translators for other families who needed additional help. The program has been wonderful and we are so thankful for the partnership between United Way of Greater Atlanta and the CCSD that made it possible.”

Oak Leaf Church, a CCSD partner, hosted the sessions for the parents at its facilities in downtown Canton.

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