Minden schools extending outreach to community

Two Minden elementary schools are reaching out to the community in hopes of increasing parental involvement and community outreach.

Over the summer, faculty and staff from J.E. Harper Elementary School hosted an event where books and popsicles were passed out while getting to know the children and parents and vice versa. Principal Janene Ashley said they also helped out during the Webster Parish Library summer reading program as well as the SMILE program at St. Rest Baptist Church. They also assisted in the summer feeding program at Mt. Calm Baptist Church.

“We decided we wanted to increase our parental involvement, and one way we chose to do that was through reaching out to the community and building relationships,” Ashley said. “We opted to do a community outreach this summer, just getting out into the community and getting our faces and names out there.”

Additionally, some of the teachers made home visits and spoke with the children who would be coming to Harper and their parents.

“I was excited about that,” she said. “We’re hoping to increase that opportunity as well. We feel the relationships we have with our students, staff members and parents is important in helping the students succeed in academics if they know you care about them.”

E.S. Richardson Principal Oreata Banks said the community involvement push began at the end of the last school year at her school, and at the Model Schools Conference, a national conference held in Nashville, over the summer. The overall theme was community involvement, building relationships and social media. Teachers came back to Webster Parish excited to begin activities that would build and strengthen relationships among the schools, the students and their parents, she said.

“The initiative actually began at the top,” she said. “(Superintendent of Schools Johnny) Rowland is talking about building relationships, community perception, positive relationships, and it’s trickling down to the schools. All the schools are doing little things to make the students feel welcome. We planned this, and he started planning some stuff and he’s building relationships within our district, in our schools and in central office. The morale is shifting.”

Schools that haven’t already done so are creating Facebook pages for their schools, and the district has also created a Facebook page for Webster Parish. The idea, Banks said, is to promote positive things within the district and let people know what’s going on.

Harper will be hosting an 80s party during their open house as a way to announce the school will be pushing to reach the 80 percent benchmark in reading this year. The open house will be from 6 until 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 24, in the cafeteria.

Harper staff will also be discussing more about the ReadyRosie app parents can download to their phones, which shares videos on how parents can help their children at home with skills they need to succeed in the classroom, Ashley said.

Richardson staff – Roadrunners on the Move – will be on a bus Saturday morning cruising around town and stopping at several places throughout the city to hang out and visit with children playing games and passing out popsicles.

“There won’t be any speeches,” Banks said. “We’re just going to hang out with them.”

At 10 a.m., they will be at Victory Park; at 11 a.m., they will be at the basketball courts near Constable Street; at noon, they will be at Babbs Park; at 2 p.m., they will be at the High Street Park; at 3 p.m., they will be at the B.F. Martin Community Life Center; and at 4 p.m., they will be at the field behind J.L. Jones Elementary.

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