Monday, September 26, 2005
A group of teachers at Harrison Middle School is going the extra mile to try to get parents more involved in their children's schooling.
Eighth grade teachers Judy Carrick, Raul Castro, Marisol Fernandez and Brandon Beeman have been spending time after school and on the weekends making house calls to each of their students' homes. But they aren't showing up on parents' doorsteps to talk about student behavior or grades. Instead, the teachers are ringing doorbells, delivering invitations to the school's open house on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
"We decided we needed to make personal contact with the parents," Carrick said of the teacher's decision to hand out invitations. "We wanted to hand deliver the invitations and make that initial contact."
The four teachers who are passing out invitations all belong to the same small learning group at Harrison Middle School, the Pathfinders. Together, the four teacher have 105 students, and 104 homes to visit. Castro explained that among the more than 100 students the teachers serve there is one brother and sister, which means one less house to visit.
Castro said personally inviting parents to the open house was his idea, but it was the group that decided that delivering invitations would be a good way to get out and meet all of their students' parents.
"I thought that if we were to make the first initial gesture they would feel a little better about coming into the school," Castro said of the parents.
Carrick added that the whole idea between personally inviting parents to attend the open house is to help make parents feel more comfortable coming into the school and being a part of their children's education.
The teachers have broken themselves up into two groups to hand out all of the invitations. Carrick and Castro have been making the rounds on Saturdays, while Fernandez and Beeman have been knocking on doors after school. Castro estimates that all together the teachers have spent about eight hours of their personal time to make sure parents get their invitations.
Carrick said so far going door-to-door has been a positive experience, adding that parents seem to appreciate the gesture.
Evalani Ramos, the parent of a team Pathfinder student, said she thinks the teacher's efforts are great.
"It's outstanding that they are taking the initiative," Ramos said.
Ramos' home was one of nearly 25 Carrick and Castro visited this past Saturday.
"This is going to make a lasting impression on the parents," Ramos added.
And a lasting impression is just what the teachers were going for when they decided to do this project.
"Parent involvement is something we strive for," Castro said.
Castro added that most of the parental contact teachers have during the year happens at the open house and again at parent-teacher conferences. He said going out and knocking on doors is a way for teachers to help bridge the gap between school and home.
Castro and the rest of his team are hopeful that their efforts will pay dividends on Tuesday night, when parents begin to file into the school for the open house. In fact, the four teachers are hoping that they will have so many parents in attendance at the event that they will have to conduct their meeting in one of the larger rooms in the school.