Did you know that November is Parent Engagement Month in Georgia? In Atlanta Public Schools, we are excited about the rising level of parental engagement at our schools and the ownership being shown by parents at community meetings and events. Thursday, November 21 is also National Parent Involvement Day, and State Superintendent John Barge calls it “… a time for all parents to consider how they can get more involved in the education of their children, regardless of the grade level.”
The research is clear. The more parents and community members are involved in their schools, the better students perform. Therefore, Atlanta Public Schools is sending out a clarion call for all parents, grandparents and guardians to make 2013-14 a school year of exceptional parental involvement. In addition to partnering with a number of parent community groups, APS offers several resources to support, engage and inform parents throughout their children’s education journey.
How to Get Help as a Parent
FAMILY ENGAGEMENT TEAM
Contact a member of APS’ family engagement team. APS employs a team of family engagement specialists (FES) and a family engagement manager, who serve as critical links that connect the district, schools and parents. FESs are assigned to each APS high school cluster with offices located in each APS region. FESs provide technical assistance to ensure that schools have current information and resources to meet Title I compliance and to implement effective parental involvement activities. FESs work individually and collaboratively with school staff to coordinate, host and/or sponsor programs and workshops for parents. Workshops about “Understanding Common Core,” “Math/Literacy Night” and other timely education topics take place at schools throughout the academic year. The family engagement manager provides team leadership, as well as coordinates services for students living in nontraditional settings, such as group homes, homeless shelters and foster homes. Click here for a full directory and contact information for the family engagement team: http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/site/default.aspx?PageID=33245
Speak with a parent liaison at your child’s school. APS schools have a parent liaison on staff to serve as a link between the school and parents. Parent liaisons work closely with school administrators, staff and family engagement specialists to develop community partnerships that enhance student achievement and ensure federal compliance with the school’s parent involvement policy. Parent liaisons coordinate workshops and provide opportunities for parents to volunteer at the school’s parent center. For more information, call your child’s school to contact your parent liaison.
PARENTS AS PARTNERS ACADEMIC CENTER
Visit the Parents as Partners Academic Center (PAPAC), the districtwide resource center for parents of children attending any Atlanta public school. Located on the ground floor of Kennedy Middle School, PAPAC is a one-stop shop of education, health and social services information. Nonprofit and community representatives visit the center regularly to host workshops on everything from college and career readiness to home buyer education. In addition to reference and educational material, the center houses a technology center that makes Internet, fax and copying services available to parents. PAPAC operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call the center at 404-802-3673 to speak to a volunteer or Emily Holland, districtwide family liaison. In addition, follow PAPAC on Twitter @APSPAPAC or check out its Facebook page.
Speak with a parent mentor. They are APS employees who support families of children with disabilities. The mentors are trained to advise and educate parents who need information about special education services and resources within APS schools. The parent mentors are themselves parents of children with special needs and therefore offer a personal, determined perspective on how to navigate the special education process successfully. Listed below are the contacts for the Parent Mentor Program:
- Keisa Ma, special education specialist, 404-802-1695
- Rose Calloway, part-time parent mentor, 404-802-2633
- Edith Abakare, part-time parent mentor, 404-802-3607
GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
To help parents get involved, GaDOE provides Get the facts…get connected…GET INVOLVED! resources for parents and schools to encourage parent engagement. One of the resources is a Parent Engagement Month calendar that provides specific activities for parents to do with their children at home each day during the month to support learning and academic achievement. While the calendar is designed to be used in the month of November, parents can also use it to find ways to engage in meaningful conversations and positive interactions with their children throughout the year.
To access an electronic copy of the calendar or to check out other Parent Engagement Month resources, such as brochures, videos, letters and tip sheets provided by the GaDOE, please contact its parent engagement office at 404-656-2633 or visit the website at http://www.gadoe.org/School-Improvement/Federal-Programs/Pages/Parent-Month.aspx
LOCAL SCHOOL COUNCILS
Get elected to your local school council. Georgia law requires every school system to provide a school council in all elementary, middle and high schools. Each council works to improve student achievement by creating stronger bonds between the school and the surrounding community. School councils also provide support for teachers and administrators, and encourage parents to be part of a school’s decision-making process. Local school councils meet at least four times per year, and all meetings are open to the public. For information on local school councils, contact your child’s school or call Terrolynn Perry-Ponder, school council liaison, at 404-802-2696.
SPECIAL APS COMMITTEES AND MEETINGS
Serve on various school committees and participate in meetings. Opportunities to share suggestions and recommendations for improving academic programs and related services exist across the school system. For example, listed below are the required Title I district and school committees and meetings for which parents’ participation is valued and encouraged. See your school principal or parent liaison to find out meeting dates for the events below.
- District parent advisory committee
- Local school council – parent engagement committee
- Schoolwide planning committee
- District annual Title I meeting
- School annual Title I meeting
- District parent connection meeting
- Flexible learning plan meeting
- School-parent compact meeting
- Parent involvement policy meeting
- School budget meeting
YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL
Establish a strong partnership with your child’s school. First, make sure your child’s school has on file accurate contact information. That way, you will be sure to receive robocalls, letters, fliers and other important notifications throughout the year and during an emergency. Second, as a parent, you should feel free to talk directly with your child’s teacher, principal and other school professionals who can help make sure parents receive reliable and timely school news. Schools regularly host principal roundtable discussions, parent-teacher conferences and special events to keep parents well informed and to support student achievement. In addition, every school has its own website that has useful updates for parents.
CAMPUS PORTAL FOR PARENTS
Use Campus Portal for Parents (CPP), an easy-to-operate, secure online tool that allows parents to access their child’s class schedules, attendance records and grades. CPP also allows parents to verify their household information, including their email address, home address and telephone numbers. To ensure that students’ information remains secure, parents are required to collect CPP login information in person at the school by providing a valid photo ID (driver’s license, state ID card or passport). Once the school provides the login information, parents can then go to https://ic.apsk12.org/portal to create a username and password and to start viewing information on the portal.
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS, EXTERNAL AFFAIRS AND INNOVATION
Know that every department in Atlanta Public Schools is responsible for communicating regularly with parents. In particular, the Associate Superintendent’s Office (ASO) of Communications, External Affairs and Innovation exists to inform, respond, engage and partner with all stakeholders, including parent and community groups. The ASO team uses a variety of strategic communications and community outreach channels not only to tell APS’ story, but also to encourage two-way communications at special events and district and community meetings. Listed below are some of the ways parents can obtain information about APS:
- Visit the district website at www.atlantapublicschools.us (Visit the website for every APS school by accessing the drop-down menu from the “Select a School” tab at the top left of the district homepage.)
- Call the APS switchboard at 404-802-3500 to be connected with an appropriate staff member who can provide help.
- Call the external affairs hotline at 404-802-2826 to invite an APS leader to speak to your parent or community group.
- Read APS’s digital newsletter at www.TalkUpAPS.com
- Follow APS on Twitter (www.twitter.com), Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) or YouTube (www.youtube.com) @ APSupdate
- Check out APS on Facebook at www.facebook.com/atlantapublicschools
- Access around-the-clock educational programming – including video features on APS students, teachers and schools – on APS Channel 22 (available only to Comcast Cable subscribers in the city of Atlanta).
- View award-winning educational programing – including APS-produced video features – on PBA Channel 30.