Parent University to offer free guidance to adults
DANVILLE — This year, Ambre Todd was dreading high school precalculus.
Just the thought of having to write a linear combination of two vectors and solving exponential and logarithmic equations made her shudder.
"It's been a very long time since I had math," said Todd, who isn't the student, by the way. She's the parent.
"I'm very fortunate that my son hasn't needed a lot of tutoring," she said with a laugh.
Danville High School officials don't expect parents to be homework experts. But they do want them to be involved in their children's learning, and that includes knowing what to do if the kids need help.
That's why they're launching Parent University next semester. Funded by Danville High's $6 million School Improvement Grant, the program will offer free programming to parents and guardians of all district students in an effort to increase their involvement.
"We can't educate a child as fully as we'd like without parent involvement," said Ericka Uskali, the school's transformation officer.
"We have them with us for about eight hours a day, and parents have them the rest of that time."
She said research shows that parent involvement is a key ingredient in student success. Students who have that support have higher attendance and grades and fewer disciplinary problems, and more of them graduate.
"Most want to be involved, but they don't always know how," said Amre Carey, who works with parents as Danville High's family involvement liaison.
"This is a chance to partner with parents, help build their skills and empower them," Uskali added. "And parents may come from different backgrounds and have kids of different ages. So it's also their opportunity to come together and learn from each other."
Workshops will be offered once a month during the school year. A kick-off event will be held on Jan. 11 at Life Church in Danville.
The keynote speaker will be Phyllis Hunter, a national literacy consultant and author. At one of several breakout sessions, Hunter also will share strategies for getting kids to read.
Other sessions include: motivational speaker Carl Cannon will talk about motivating children and helping them make good choices; Joey Merrin, a University of Illinois student, will talk about his past as a Chicago gang member and how education changed his life; Sue Nelson with USA Swimming will talk about the importance of water safety and teaching kids to swim; and an Illinois Student Assistance Commission representative will offer tips on filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and being financially ready for college.
Parents also can participate in roundtable discussions on enhancing parent/school communication; class rank, GPA and weighted grades; the Advancement Via Individual Determination college-readiness program; the gifted program; standards-based report cards; and the Common Core State Standards and the new standardized test.
"All of the topics were chosen by parents," Carey pointed out. "If the parents are involved, they will be more invested."
Topics for future events could include bullying or how to use the Skyward student database management system to check their kids' attendance, homework assignments, grades, etc.
Organizers are expecting 400 parents at the kickoff. Todd, one of the parents who helped plan the event, hopes even more attend.
"I feel that all parents want their children to be successful in school," Todd said. "This will give them the information they need to support their child and help them continue that learning process at home."
Parent University launch event
Jan. 11 at Life Church, 2105 N. Bowman Ave., Danville.
The event is free and open to all Danville school district parents and guardians.
9 a.m.: Registration, with entertainment by the high school's pep band.
9:30 a.m.: Welcome, presentation of colors by Junior ROTC members, and the national anthem sung by student Christian Cunningham.
9:40 a.m.: Opening address by Carl Cannon, a motivational speaker and Founder of ELITE youth program.
10:10 a.m.: Overview/announcements.
10:20 a.m.: Break.
10:30 a.m.: Keynote address by Phyllis Hunter, a national literacy specialist and author.
11:35 a.m.: Breakout sessions and roundtable discussions.
12:15 p.m.: Lunch, with entertainment by the high school show choirs and orchestra.
1 p.m.: Breakout sessions and roundtable discussions.
1:45 p.m.: Closing remarks and door prizes.
A community services fair and art fair will run throughout the event.