I met Jodi Merriday, the APS ombudsman, at a recent stakeholders meeting at Jean Childs Young Middle School in Southwest Atlanta. She also stressed the importance of interaction with parents and the community as a whole.
“Systemic change requires systemic-wide involvement,” Merriday said. “Every layer requires everybody’s input. All of the solutions require that everybody be at the table,” in what she described as the post-modern village, which includes administration, schools, parents, municipal services and the business community.
However, the time is an investment in not only student success, but community success.
Factor in problems that can arise during a school year—falling test scores, students struggling academically, disciplinary issues, new school or district policies to learn, declines in funding for schools and disagreements about what is best for area schools—and that makes the job even tougher. Frustrations mount and can translate into a decrease in parental involvement or financial and community support.
Franshay Jordan, PTA president at West Manor Elementary School, too, emphasized the importance of gaining community support.
“When speaking to prospective community partners, I have found success in getting a commitment from them by explaining how their involvement will positively impact the academic achievement and development of our students,” Jordan said. “I like to compare their investment in the students to an insurance policy. The payout comes when these students grow up to be productive citizens who are able to patronize neighborhood businesses.”
I think Merriday summed it up best when she said great partnerships, vibrant and robust parent involvement and engagement, as well as enthusiastic and optimistic teachers are critical to school and community success.