By Melissa Ford
The D97 PTO Council is sponsoring the first of three forums aimed at increasing parent engagement in the middle schools. One of the major goals that the Council co-presidents, Maggie Testore (Beye/Julian) and Libbey Paul (Whittier/Brooks), had for the 2011-12 school year was to expand the Council's role in the community, tackling educational topics that are of broad interest to D97 parents.
According to Paul, “There appears to be a pervasive feeling that our middle schools aren't as strong as they could be: as presented in local media, in conversations between parents, and the generally low engagement many parents have with their middle schools. The goal of the PTO Council is to engage parents in a discussion about what "world-class" middle schools look like -- socially and academically. We also want to help parents engage positively with their middle schools before their child steps foot in the building.” Testore agrees, “Overall our intention is to use these forums to promote parent dialogue with the District leadership -- who in turn can use this input to make changes for the better.”
Plan on attending all three upcoming middle school forums so you can be involved in shaping your child’s middle school experience!
"Supporting a Positive Climate in Our Middle Schools" Forum
Tired of hearing negative stories about your middle schools? Want to create a better interpersonal environment for your kids? Join the discussion on March 6th at 7 p.m. at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School Commons about strengthening the middle school climate. A stellar panel of experts will speak to topics and questions raised by an online survey asking parents how they and their kids feel about the middle school climate. Feedback from that survey will be shared and used as input for panelists John Williams, Director of Youth Services of Oak Park and River Forest Townships, Lisa Lowry, LCSW - Child/Adolescent Therapist, and Felicia Starks Turner, Curriculum Coordinator for Administrative Services.
"Our Preferred Future: Fostering World-Class Middle Schools" Forum
This forum is tentatively scheduled for April 3 and will focus on the district sharing information about the middle school philosophy and the characteristics of high quality middle schools. Parents/guardians and teachers will then break out into small groups to give feedback about what they would expect to see in a world-class middle school. The goal is to channel parent energies in a way that focuses on positive change.
"Welcome, Parents, to Middle School" Forum
Tentatively scheduled for mid-May, this event will focus on parent transition into the middle schools. While the middle schools do an excellent job at transitioning our kids, this forum is an excellent opportunity to better transition parents on what to expect academically, socially, etc. The D97 PTO Council has just begun to brainstorm what parents are interested in learning more about before they get to the schools, and will be collaborating with the district to plan this event in more detail.
Join D97 PTO Council, parents and other community members to help enhance the educational experience of our children.