BV High School works to increase parental involvement

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Berryville High School is taking strides to increase parent involvement by implementing additional programs and activities.

Tiffaney Atkinson, high school counselor and parent and family engagement coordinator, said the High School Parent and Family Engagement Plan has been updated and is located on the Berryville School District’s website: Bobcat.K12.AR.US/70456_2.

“For Title I funding, we are required to have a parent and family engagement coordinator per school, so I have one for each building,” she said. “We engage in activities to allow parents to come into the school to volunteer and have a committee to decide how Title I money is spent.”

Atkinson said the plan also works to create events designed to help staff teach parents how to teach their students at home.

For the 2017 Parent and Family Engagement Plan, she said the high school had to detail their strategies for nine objectives. The first objective, she said, is to list the various communication strategies used in the school to provide additional information to parents and increase parent involvement in supporting classroom instruction.

Atkinson said Berryville High School’s communication strategies include the school’s website, accessible at Bobcat.K12.AR.US, which provides access to several key features. Parents can access pertinent information about their child’s courses through each teacher’s classroom website, she said, and their child’s grades through the Home Access Center using an access code they receive at the beginning of the school year. Parents can also use email to communicate with members of the school staff, she said.

Teachers also contact parents and families on an individual basis to communicate about their child’s progress, she said, and progress reports and report cards are distributed every four and a half weeks through parent teacher conferences and student English classes. End-of-year report cards are mailed home.

Any parent and family workshops or meetings held will be communicated through posting notices in school facilities, on the district website and social media.

The second objective, Atkinson said, is for the school to list its proposed parent meetings, conferences and activities aimed at increasing parental involvement. She said the high school hosts a parent teacher conference in the fall and spring each year, orientation for students and their families at each grade level, a Financial Aid Night event, Career Action Plan (CAP) conferences where students meet with an adviser to pick their classes for the following year, a “transition to high school” meeting for eighth-grade students and their families and a school-wide Title I meeting for parents and families.

She said several of these events are scheduled for this month. On Thursday, Oct. 19, she said the high school will hold the Financial Aid Night from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the library, a parents’ night for sophomores and juniors from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the cafeteria and the school-wide Title I meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the cafeteria. Parent-teacher conferences will also be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., she said.

On Friday, Oct. 20, Atkinson said the high school will hold a volunteer training luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. in the library.

“In the future, we will also hold a SLAM night,” she said. “It stands for ‘science, language and mathematics.’ That way, parents can come in and hear directly from our teachers what the students are working on and how they can help them.”

The third objective, Atkinson said, is to address how the school will provide information to parents about volunteer opportunities. She said the high school provides parents with opportunities to volunteer in various types of roles to increase their involvement and support for student learning. She said the school even solicits ideas for types of volunteer efforts and provides a list of these opportunities through the Volunteer Survey in the Parent Information Packet and during a volunteer orientation meeting.

The fourth objective, she said, is developing a school-parent-student compact outlining how parents and families and school staff share the responsibility for improving student academic achievement and the means by which they will build and develop a partnership to achieve the state’s high academic standards. All stakeholders will sign the compact, she said.

The fifth objective, Atkinson said, is addressing how the school will provide opportunities for parents to be involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of the school improvement plan and the annual Title I meeting to engage them in the decision-making process.

To support parents’ involvement in this process, she said the high school will offer training on how to contribute to the process in a meaningful way. In addition to the Title I meeting, she said the school will take advantage of community resources, consider recruiting alumni to create an alumni advisory commission to provide advice and guidance for school improvement and enable the formation of a parent teacher association (PTA) to foster parental and community involvement within the school.

Atkinson said the sixth objective is addressing how the school will provide resources for parents. She said the high school has designated her to serve as a parent and family engagement facilitator, and parents will have access to the Parent Resource Center within the school library from 7:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on holidays.

“We have a parent resource center where our parents can come in, use Chromebooks and do some research about how to help their children,” she said. “We also have books they can check out.”

Atkinson said the high school also distributes parent/family information packets each year and will purchase parenting books, magazines and other informative materials as funds are available.

She said the seventh objective is addressing how the school will engage parents in evaluation of its parental involvement efforts. To accomplish this goal, she said the school will engage parents in the annual evaluation of the Title I Part A programs by having teachers, parents, families and school staff fill out a comprehensive needs assessment. The school will also have a Title I committee made up of teachers, parents and school staff that will determine the effectiveness of the parental involvement plan, she said.

The eighth objective is determining how the school will use the parent interest surveys to select, plan and implement parental involvement activities to be offered throughout the year, Atkinson said.

She said the high school asks parents to fill out a Parent and Family Engagement Survey during the high school seminar each year to gain information concerning the activities parents and families feel would be most beneficial. The results of the survey will be used to plan the parental involvement activities for the following year, she said, and will be evaluated at the end of the year as part of the annual parental involvement plan evaluation.

The high school will also conduct conferences and parent and family night events to inform parents of high school students how to be involved in decisions affecting course selection, career planning and preparation for postsecondary opportunities, she said.

The final objective, Atkinson said, is determining when the high school will plan the annual Title I meeting, which must be conducted separately. The high school will hold its school-wide Title I meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the cafeteria, she said.

“We encourage anyone who wants to be involved to contact the school,” Atkinson said. “It doesn’t have to be parents. It can also be members of the community.”

She said anyone wishing to volunteer or get involved can contact her at TAtkinson@Bobcat.K12.AR.US or at 870-480-4620 ext. 3241.

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