Volunteering is nothing new for Edwynna Freeman, but a unique opportunity helped the Reynoldsburg mother hone her passion and make a difference for students at Waggoner Road Junior High.
Freeman spent one weekend a month, during a three-month period, attending Parents for Public Schools leadership development training in Cincinnati, where she learned how to engage in school improvement efforts at the local level. The days were filled with ideas on fostering involvement, interpreting data and analyzing school situations.
“We were asked to look at where the school is at and where is it lacking, then go back to our home school and develop a project to meet three goals, which included increasing parent involvement, academic achievement and making a lasting impact, Freeman said.But ultimately, it focused most on increasing parent involvement.
Using tools she gained during training sessions to form the framework for her project, Freeman looked at data from Waggoner Road to determine what was needed and drafted a plan to accomplish that goal – providing after-school homework help for students preparing for the Ohio Achievement Assessment test.
“Schools have to be accountable, Freeman said.The training empowered us to ask the questions we have the right to ask and, at the same time, ask how we can help. It is a partnership.
Freeman started meeting with Waggoner Road Principal Chris Brooks in October.
“Even though I finished the training in December, I started volunteering at the school the first week in November, she said.
Soliciting for fellow volunteers went high tech via Facebook and through a district-wide newsletter.
Even though she was anxious to implement her project when school resumed after the holiday break, it was not until April 4 that a small, but dedicated group of parents began offering a three-week, general homework session after school on Mondays and Wednesdays.
According to its website, Parents for Public Schools (PPS) is a national organization of community-based chapters working with public school parents and other supporters to improve and strengthen local public schools.
Through networks of parent advocates, people are encouraged to become involved in the improvement of public schools as decision-makers and proactive owners of the schools, not simply reactive or passive consumers.
PPS was formed in 1989 by a group of parents in Jackson, Miss., to recruit families to support public education. Within two years, 800 families organized and helped pass a $35 million bond issue, the first in more than two decades. It was established as a national organization in 1991.
“Parents need to know what is going on in the schools, Freeman said.No matter what their childrens age, parents need to be visible in the building. Schools that are successful have the greatest parent involvement groups.
Although many families have working parents, Freeman said there are many ways parents can get involved.
“I volunteer and I hope Im setting the tone for other parents to become involved, she said.
For more information about Parents for Public Schools, call 1-800-880-1222 or visit www.parents4publicschools.org.