Philadelphia Elementary Title 1 Parent Engagement Philosophy
School, family, and community partnerships are an important component of Philadelphia School success. The top priority at Philadelphia is to provide a safe, caring environment for students. We want everyone entering the school to experience a welcoming atmosphere. This is accomplished through the teamwork of strong school leaders, professional, friendly teachers, and parent volunteers. A focused safety plan, School Wide Behavior program, an involved school resource officer makes the school a safe place for learning. We believe it is essential to include parents in decision-making, resource allocation, school improvement planning, and service projects. In addition, we provide many opportunities for parents to visit the school and be a part of the day-to-day activities. Our guidance counselor also coordinates with local social agencies to provide needed emotional support to our students and parents.
The benefits of parent and community involvement are directly related to student achievement, attitude, and overall school success. Students who have involved parents make better grades, are more respectful, and score higher on standardized tests. Discipline issues are reduced when there is frequent, consistent communication between school and home. Parents and students who have "ownership" in the school work harder to make it a success. Teachers report increased job satisfaction and fewer instructional disruptions.
A key to a successful outreach program involves the atmosphere of the school. Parents must truly feel welcome in the school building and believe that their volunteer hours will make a difference in the lives of the students. At the beginning of each school year, parents receive a parent volunteer registration form in their child’s folder. This form lists the numerous opportunities for school service and provides space for parents to indicate other strengths or talents.
Another aspect of a successful parent engagement plan is to include parents in decision-making and school improvement planning. This is accomplished in many ways. Parents serve on the Coordinated School Health Committee. No School Improvement Plan (SIP) is complete without parent and stakeholder involvement. Each SIP Committee has a parent serving alongside teachers. They help collect data, gather information, analyze strengths and challenges, and set goals and time lines for the various accomplishments. Philadelphia hosts after school sessions each year and invites parents to the school to discuss school information and school improvement initiatives. Beginning last year, PES adopted the APTT style of parent conferences to engage and equip our families to know their students’ data and to be able to effectively work with them at home. We are now being recognized in the state of Tennessee for these efforts, which is evidence of the power of PES families and teachers working together!
Philadelphiateachers and administrators believe good communication is key to a winning parent involvement plan. Communication must be easy, open, and two-way between school and home. This process begins before school even starts. All teachers mail letters to their new class of students during the summer. They tell the students and parents a little about themselves and the expectations of their grade level. They remind them of important dates and school supply needs. They also have parents mark their calendars for special grade level “Parent Nights” to be held during the first week of school. On Registration Day, we ask that all parents and students visit the school (this includes new students as well as those who have attended the school). This gives the parent and child an opportunity to meet the teacher, visit the classroom, and have some personal time to ask questions or address concerns.
During the first week of school, every grade level hosts a Parent Night. Parents come to the school, hear a short message from the principal and guidance counselors, and then adjourn to their child’s classroom. The teachers prepare a short presentation explaining structure and expectations of the grade level. This is followed by time spent answering questions and getting to know each other. Students in grades PreK-8 receive student folders to help develop organizational skills and serve as a communication tool between home and school. Parents are asked to go over the planner and discuss topics with their child. They are also asked to sign the planner each week, and there is space for parents to write notes back to the teacher.
Other forms of communication are weekly grade level newsletters with information of that week’s topics of study, teacher and school web pages, and a weekly digital newsletter (via email) from the administrative staff. Parents are invited to the school for various programs, musicals, school plays, school sports programs, LAUNCH parent nights, and other events.
Parents have been an invaluable resource in large school projects. Each year Philadelphia tries to raise funds for the school’s instructional supply and technology needs.
Due to initiating a parent/community involvement program, Philadelphia has been able to embrace the philosophy that “It takes a Village to Raise a Child.” In the case of Philadelphia, we embrace that philosophy. We at Philadelphia have discovered that the more our parents have been allowed to serve, the more benefits the school reaps in return.