March 2, 2012

Parents are encouraged to 'be involved' in their children's education

By John Shaughnessy

If you're a parent who wants to help your children make the most of their education, there are two words you have to live by, according to the five teachers who are the winners of the archdiocese's 2011-12 Saint Theodora Excellence in Education Award.

"Be involved."

"Students are most successful when there is parent involvement," says Patricia Musgrave, a resource teacher at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis.

"Know what is happening academically and socially with your child at school. Keep the lines of communication open with the teachers, and don't be afraid to ask questions."

Here is more advice for parents from the other four winners.

Communicate with your child

"Talk to them, listen to them and read to them," says Mary Briscoe, a first-grade

teacher at Holy Family School in New Albany. "Be a role model. Help them to know that anything is possible if they work hard. When possible, plan activities to enrich their studies."

Be a partner—and a person of faith

"When we work together as partners, their children benefit the most," says Vicki Auger, a second-grade teacher at St. Roch School in Indianapolis. "So they need to let their child know that they support the teacher and that we are working together to help the child reach his/her potential.

"Above all, they need to share their faith and take their child to Mass."

Share information and respect

"We appreciate some knowledge of the children—allergies, temperament, any academic difficulties in the past," says Stephen Buell, a sixth-grade teacher at the consolidated St. Michael the Archangel and St. Gabriel the Archangel School in Indianapolis.

"Teachers love talking to parents whenever they can, but there are times and places for each meeting, and a formal setting is always best. Catching a teacher at the supermarket and talking about concerns can put a teacher in an awkward position and an unprofessional position."

Get to know all the right people

"Know the teacher, the principal, the assistants and the maintenance staff," says Lisa Vogel, an eighth–grade teacher at St. Mary School in North Vernon. "Know the other young people that are sitting beside your child every day while they are at school. Volunteer at the school. Parents are a critical piece to the success of any school." †

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