Meridian Star

February 27, 2012

Letter To The Editor: Get involved with your school

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     As a Parent Coach for Parents for Public Schools (PPS) National, I work with people in the east central Mississippi area who want to strengthen and improve their public schools.

    PPS recently started our second Parent Leadership Institute (PLI) in this part of the state. The PLI is the most in-depth training PPS does with parents and other citizens who value and prioritize quality public education for all children and are willing to work with others to make that happen. PLI training builds the capacity of parents to improve their local public schools and school districts for the benefit of all children. During the six days of rigorous training, parents are taught how to identify and take action on specific data-driven academic projects.  The PLI requires a minimum two-year school improvement project from each participant and helps parents through the process of project development, design, and implementation. Homework is assigned between PLI sessions.

    The first homework assignment consists of four parts and PLI participants are given approximately one month to complete the entire assignment:

    1. Complete PPS' Welcoming Schools Checklist (preferably with a small, yet diverse group of people).

    2. Obtain copies of your school's report card and your district's report card and use the School Report Card Scavenger Hunt as a reference for asking questions.

    3. Get a copy of your school's improvement plan or school-wide plan and highlight areas where parents are mentioned; if your school receives Title I money, request a copy of the Title I parent involvement policy and advisory committee members.

    4. Review the MS Mathematics Frameworks for your child's grade (or a grade level at your chosen project school) and make note of important competencies and objectives, then complete the Math Curriculum Handout.

    You're starting to get an idea of just how in-depth this training is and how much we (PPS) value parents and other stakeholders in the decision making process of improving public schools!  

    This PLI class has participants from seven different school districts in six east central MS counties, including Philadelphia's Mrs. Chiquita Jones. I had never met the Philadelphia Elementary administrators until I joined Ms. Jones during her meeting with them as part of her homework assignment. We had an absolutely delightful meeting with the Principal, Mr. Jason Gentry, and the Assistant Principal, Ms. Stacie Collins, at Philadelphia Elementary earlier this month.

    Mrs. Chiquita Jones is a great relationship builder! She really (and literally) did her homework and we came out of that meeting truly feeling that we had started a positive relationship involving trust and headed toward collaboration. The administrators were not only receptive and warm, but were also ready with printed copies of the district’s 2010 – 2015 Strategic Plan, including annual district goals with school level objectives, and their five year plan for targeting and accomplishing priority needs.

    I was really happy that one of last year's PLI Grads, Philadelphia's Mr. Cecil Hooker, could join us for that meeting.  Mr. Hooker has been sharing student achievement data with individuals and small groups in Philadelphia and Neshoba County since he graduated from the 2011 PLI. He continues to serve his community, not only through his involvement with PPS and the PLI, but also as a member of the Philadelphia Coalition, which came about as a result of his involvement with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

    If you'd like to know more about what parents and other citizens are learning in the PLI, just ask. If you'd like to know how Parents for Public Schools and the Parent Leadership Institute builds bridges between parents, schools, and communities to benefit everybody in the community in multiple ways, I encourage you to contact me or PPS National.

    Becky Glover, Parent Coach - Parents for Public Schools, National Office 601.397.1599 (call or text me) / (email me) / follow me on Twitter:  @bglover4PPS / find me on Facebook:  Becky Heavner Glover.

    Parents for Public Schools®(PPS) is a national organization of community-based chapters working with public school parents and other supporters to improve and strengthen local public schools. We believe that quality public education is vital to our democracy and to America’s future. We value parents as owners of public schools and as peers with all those seeking to improve schools. PPS is invigorated by a diverse membership whose involvement in public schools helps to ensure that quality public education is available equally to all children. 800.880.1222 or 601.969.6936 / / / 200 North Congress Street, Suite 500, Jackson, MS 39201.

— Becky Glover, Meridian