When a parent realizes they have to attend a PTA meeting, they usually don’t expect to go to one like the PTA Family Math Games Night & Penny Wars Kick-Off at Frank D. Parent K-8 School. Instead of “sit and get” like most of us have experienced, it was something quite different!
There were an abundance of learning and fun stations that included bingo, chess, bowling and magic tricks. Because this is a school, they could not leave out the academics. There were math, science and literacy games, as well as kindergarten students being taught at kidney tables on the stage. Each family was given a passport to take them through the learning activities.
There was not a corner that one could look to without seeing student engagement and parental involvement. While the cafeteria was being morphed into a large learning atmosphere, Principal Garry Gregory reviewed the IUSD PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Support) plan to parents and family members in a nearby classroom.
As we know, many schools struggle getting parents out to PTA meetings, but Parent Elementary School had over 200 parents in attendance! “Our PTA does an amazing job!” said Gregory. “They are constantly finding ways to make their meetings fun and engaging for our families. Math Night has been an annual event for several years. Mrs. Wallace is a dedicated teacher that heads the event. She always does amazing things for Frank D. Parent. Her dedication is contagious and other staff members are always eager to assist and support the event as well.”
Gregory continued by saying, “Math Night is always a success. It brings families together with our school. Families learn that teaching math can be fun. It can also be taught through playing games. This event is a great time for everyone to bond despite our busy schedules.”
Parent School PTA President, Miriam Morris concurred by adding, “You simply cannot have this type of success without administrator’s who truly want to partner with parents and understand the extra effort involved yields great dividends.” State Administrator, Dr. Vincent Matthews who was in attendance and helped serve dinner weighed in by saying, “Yes, the activities were great. However at Parent, you had parents, teachers, students and administrators all involved. It will be hard to replicate this at other sites if you don’t have the same level of involvement from the school community.”
Inglewood Council PTA President, Maria McKinley simply puts it by saying, “The success of Frank D. Parent’s PTA meetings can be summed up with two words: inclusive engagement. There is something for everyone.” Her advice to other schools is to advertise, toot their own horns, and let the community know what they are doing and how they can assist. She strongly suggests making flyers, capitalizing on social media, and creating banners to catch their attention. She also adds that using incentives and friendly competition always helps.
McKinley suggests that schools create opportunities for parents and teachers to participate at levels they are comfortable with.
The interactive night could not have concluded any better than with a dance contest and raffle. To connect this to instruction, students had to answer academic questions to win a prize. It was a great night to remember and one to be replicated.