the Principal's Desk
Standards Call for Strong Home-School Partnerships
Saudhi M. Vargas, Principal, P.S. 158
lives are shaped by the web of relationships in their environments.
In our capacities as school leaders, teachers, and parents, we
are entrusted with the formidable responsibility of guiding, nurturing,
supporting, and teaching our young. As the significant people
who help children to make sense of their world, one of our primary
tasks is to build relationships which support the quality of learning
that our children deserve and need if they are to develop into
caring, responsible, educated persons. Because we share the same
basic goals, the mutual collaboration, support, and participation
of families in their child's education is an important way to
promote high standards, improve student achievement, and model
At P.S. 158, strong home-school partnerships are at the heart
of the school's belief system and take varied forms. One way that
we have worked to strengthen home-school collaborations around
educational issues has been through parent development workshops.
The successful series of parent workshops, facilitated by teachers
and the principal, have made public and accessible the work of
the school. The workshops are informative, engage the parents
in discussions around teaching and learning, and address a wide
range of topics such as early literacy, the writing curriculum,
standards and assessments, standardized testing, integrated curriculum,
and transition issues. In our effort to reach out to as many parents
as possible, morning and evening sessions are scheduled.
These parent development sessions also serve to provide the school
leadership and staff with information about concerns, needs, and
questions, which cause us to further examine our professional
practices and instructional programs. In turn, parents are able
to take away from these workshops strategies, ideas, and suggestions
for supporting their child's learning at home. For example, parents
have received helpful hints on how to: make use of environmental
print in the neighborhood to promote the reading process; help
children make good book choices at the local library or book store;
recognize the power of nightly read aloud (yes, even to older
students) to foster a love of literature and provoke thinking
and discussion; or understand how to help children work toward
producing work that meets high performance standards.
The mutuality of the home-school relationship is one from which
everyone benefits. When parents become knowledgeable about the
work of the school, they are better able to work in concert with
the school to ensure their child's success. For school staff,
a constructive and supportive alliance between the home and the
school becomes an integral part of the teaching and learning process
whose ultimate goals is to help students work and learn at high
levels of competence.
Students' motivation to do well in school increases because a
clear message is communicated to them - education is valued and
important to the home and the school. The job of educating our
children is an enormous task that belongs to all of us. Collaborative
relationships inspire students to engender a deep respect for
learning when they view their support system as a caring community
of teachers and learners.
Public education is at a critical and very exciting period in
history. As we move toward standards-based instruction and performance-driven
schools, school communities will need to focus greater attention
on issues of individual and collective accountability to children.
Strong, supportive home-school partnerships are a good start!
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