Open house builds parent partnerships

Published 4:57 pm Monday, October 8, 2018

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Pelham High School’s recent Open House brought many parents and students to school for an evening. Determining what to tell parents in less than 10 minutes is daunting. How is condensing approximately 180 school days down to a few minutes possible? Is High School Open House necessary or practical?

While many parents may have difficulties attending Open House, those who do smile, engage and even take photos or notes regarding pertinent information. While I’ve taught high school juniors since 1985, many attendees are on their maiden voyage as junior parents and may be staring down ACT prep and college applications with reluctance. I understand their concerns because I’ve had that experience with my own children, nieces, nephews and too many students to count.

Sharing information with juniors’ parents about my use of songs to teach grammatical rules makes them laugh. When I ask junior Crystill Crockett why all indefinite words connected to one, body or thing take a singular pronoun, she smiles at me.

“Because one is the loneliest number,” Crockett says, revealing both my instructional song and her new knowledge for conquering the ACT. Parents laugh and seem to relax.

“Thanks for all you’re doing,” one parent says. “We really appreciate your Remind messages to keep them on track.”

Knowing that this parent is checking the Remind along with her student identifies her as a parent partner.  Committed parents and teachers working together form a powerful partnership creating a comprehensive coaching team and cheer squad. Students with this united support are well on their way to success.

Creative writing and new Lit Mag parents are wowed by the literary magazines students have created in the past and thrilled to see contests offering 16 $10,000 scholarships for senior writing and design portfolios.  Seasoned Lit Mag parents nod knowingly as I reveal my competitive streak to those who’ve just arrived.

“Our kids work really hard to win,” I share. “Winning requires work, effort and commitment. Discovering they’re winners matters most.”

“Our kids” reveals my parents-as-partners perspective. Partnership matters because when kids win—we all win.