The Rutherford Public Schools Parent Academy
By Jennifer Ersalesi
As a way to strengthen the parent/ school connection, the Rutherford Public School district began a new initiative this year entitled, The Parent Academy. With workshops that will focus on a variety of academic, social, and emotional topics, the community will have the opportunity to learn ways to better assist their children and foster their growth. Superintendent of Schools, Jack Hurley, explained the reason that The Parent Academy was created, "The district created this initiative due to a combination of academic change and concerns about issues that students, parents and teachers face. With the many changes which have occurred in literacy and math instruction, the use of technology, and the structure of classroom activities that we felt a need to share more information regarding these changes with parents. Also, students across the nation are experiencing more anxiety, social pressures and Social Emotional Learning has become a big part of school culture. Partnering with parents on these topics is essential."
Rutherford High School will kick off The Parent Academy workshops on Thursday, October 10th at 7 pm with a College Financial Aid Night during which parents/ caregivers will receive information about completing the FAFSA and the different types of Financial Aid from representatives from local colleges and universities. At the conclusion of the workshop, members of the guidance department will present information about the college application process.
The second workshop this month, 25 Hands-on Techniques to Manage Anxiety, will be presented on October 17th at Pierrepont School by Mrs. Kimberly Huzzy, Student Assistance Counselor at Pierrepont School. Parents and caregivers will be provided with the tools necessary to help their children manage their emotions and build resilience.
Throughout the rest of the year, workshops will be held at Lincoln, Washington, Pierrepont, and Rutherford High School. Some will include specific pre-adolescent and adolescent related topics such as vaping, hidden alcohol and drug paraphernalia, raising empowered females, and building independence and resilience in children.
"It is always important to strengthen the bond between home and school." Superintendent Jack Hurley.
The elementary schools will host workshops on math topics, such as bar modeling and language arts topics, such as promoting literacy at home and improving comprehension. Dr. Jeanna Velechko, Principal of Lincoln School, told TIR, "Many parents are being introduced to bar models as their children are learning the skill. Parents can attend the workshop our teachers will lead to better understand the purpose of the drawing technique and learn how do it." The workshop entitled "Promoting Literacy at Home" was further explained by Dr. Velechko, "We know from research that parents have a tremendous influence on reading development. They expose children to vocabulary and environmental print and model good reading habits. Many parents are looking for new ideas on how to create an excitement for reading. Our Reading Specialist at Lincoln and Washington Schools, Mr. Faigenbaum, has the knowledge of new authors, books and technology that will do just that!"
Principal of Washington School, Mr. William Mulcahy, told TIR more about the six Second Cup of Coffee Workshops that are held at Washington School throughout the school year, "Second Cup of Coffee is a series of Parent/Teacher workshops offered annually at Washington School. These interactive sessions, now part of The Parent Academy, are designed to provide parents with information, insight, and practical strategies they can use to assist their children at home. Traditionally focused on early literacy skills and annual assessments, the program is being expanded this year to include workshops that support our district goal related to the concept of Social Emotional Learning. These specific workshops are designed to foster discussion on how to develop confident, resilient, and independent children in a challenging, complex society." The Second Cup of Coffee Workshop to be held on December 4th will focus on building independency and resilience in children in grades K-3.
A detailed list of the workshops, as well as the times, dates, and locations are listed here.