I just had an amazing experience attending a local school district parent/school engagement celebration. I had the privilege and opportunity to attend the Mount Vernon School District’s Bilingual/Migrant Parent Academy Graduation. Yes, you read it right, a graduation ceremony for parents who participated and successfully completed a parent academy. The goal of the parent academy is for parents to learn and understand the complex educational system, and to make the process of navigating and supporting their children in education much easier.
I was very excited to attend and witness this celebration to mark their successful family-school engagement work. I had not heard of a parent academy before so this was all very new for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect. At first, it appeared attendance was going to be quite low. The family advocates informed me that this event is scheduled to accommodate parents’ work schedules and that more families would arrive soon. They were right! Not soon after, parents arrived and were welcomed by family advocates. There were 150 Bilingual/Migrant Parents all sitting down with their school building parent groups, family advocate and school principals waiting to take the stage.
As I witnessed school building principals congratulating the parents on their successful completion of the program, I noticed parents smiling and feeling proud of receiving their diplomas. These diplomas recognize their hard work, time, and dedication to their child’s education. Each school building has their own parent academy and family advocates – what an invaluable resource!
During the ceremony, Superintendent Carl Bruner gave an inspirational welcome speech. School building representatives consisting of family advocates, principals, and parent-teachers congratulated their graduating parent class of 2018. It was a huge success! It was very inspiring to see the parents taking photos with their children to mark their accomplishment. You could see how proud each child was of their parent’s achievement.
I was very intrigued by this program. I visited with one of the main organizers, Maria Valerio, Migrant and Bilingual Liaison to learn more about the program. She mentioned this work could not have happened without the support and help of Mr. Dan Berard, Director of Migrant and Bilingual Programs, and Mrs. Julie Muir, English Learner Specialist. Maria shared that the parent academy is a six-week program taking place in their child’s school. Each week is focused on a particular subject including:
- Understanding Academic Standards
- Understanding Children’s Academic Profiles
- Helping Children learn at home and
- Getting Ready for College Graduation
I also found out that the parent academies were offered in four different languages: English, Spanish, Russian and Mixteco. Oh, and the best part, the classes were facilitated by parent teachers, giving parents the opportunity to serve in a leadership role by teaching their peers within their school building. Thank you Mount Vernon School District for the outstanding work on family engagement with Bilingual/Migrant Parents.