Thursday, Jan. 26th, 2012
Dr. Craig Spinks
Parent involvement is a key to student success in schools. Everybody has heard that statement and most would agree with it. But what does "parent involvement mean? Does parent involvement mean only signing a report card, sending a snack to one's child's class but otherwise staying out of the way? No, parental involvement has to extend beyond signing a report card, sending brownies to school for the class Christmas party but otherwise staying home. There must be an "IN" in parent involvement. And that "IN" is parental presence in his/her child's schoolhouse during the instructional day- not just presence at school during Thanksgiving programs, football games and school carnivals.
Who in the RCSS is promoting real parental Involvement in schools? Three names come immediately to mind: Dr. Frank Roberson, Ms. Monique Braswell and Dr. Wayne Frazier.
Dr. Frank Roberson's name and smiling face are both well-known around Richmond County. Early on, he made known his intention to reach out to the community and enlist the support of parents, family members and other taxpayers in efforts to improve schoolling for all students enrolled in Richmond County public schools.Unfortunately, Dr. Roberson's efforts have been postponed as he recovers from brain surgery performed early last year to repair a cerebro-vascular problem.
But two folks have continued to work toward Dr. Roberson's goal as we await his return to full-time work. Whereas the name and face of Frank Roberson might be familiar to most RCSS parents, the name and face of Monique Braswell might not yet be familiar to them. But that soon will change. Ms. Braswell is well on her way to popular familiarity because of her success in recruiting over 10K RCSS parents and other stakeholders to join the local PTAs. And she's been president of the Richmond County Council of PTAs for less than a year. Ms. Braswell's not a "pay-your-dues-and-go-away" PTA leader.
She has reached out to parents in RC to let them know that their presence at PTA meetings is just the first step in the parent Involvement process. To promote her goal of greater parent Involvement, Ms. Braswell arranged the visit of the incoming national PTA president, Col. Otha Thornton of Atlanta. Thornton visited Augusta as the speaker at the January meeting of the Windsor Springs Elementary PTA. Col. Thornton is an alumnus of WSES. He attended elementary school there in the 1970s. Col. Thornton stressed the idea that parents' "standing back" won't get their children a good education. "Standing up" and "getting Involved" in their children's respective public schools are required. By the way, Mr. Terry Morgan, president of the WSES PTA, is a sterling example of such a parent.
A sterling example of a principal committed to getting parents involved is Wayne Frazier. Now the principal of Glenn Hills High School, Dr. Frazier personifies parent involvement. And his efforts to get parents into his school didn't just begin with his assumption of the principalship at GHHS. It began several years before. I first noted Dr. Frazier's name when I read in a local print medium his invitation for any and all taxpayers to visit his school. His school at the time was the Richmond County Alternative School. My initial response was inconsistent: first, I liked a principal whose school was open to public view; and, second, was this guy nuts? Who in his right mind would want parents and other folk in an alternative school. By the time that I tracked Dr. Frazier down he had been transferred in mid-year to Tubman Middle School, a school which had never made AYP. There I found that Frazier "walked the walk" when it came to welcoming parents and other taxpayers to TMS. Even though I had never met the man before, he welcomed Marine MGySgt(ret.) Greg Davis and myself to Tubman on our initial visit there in 2008. Frazier did so on several subsequent, unplanned, unannounced visits over the year-and-a-half that Frazier led TMS. By the way, TMS made AYP both years when Frazier was principal.
For his exemplary efforts, Frazier barely missed being transferred to the directorship of the RCSS Transportation Department. Fortunately for the kids at GHHS, his efforts at persuading his superiors that he was a "school man" and not a "bus man" were successful. Thereupon, he was transferred from Tubman Middle in the Summer of 2009 to Glenn Hills, a high school besieged by safety, academic and disciplinary problems. To this day, Dr. Frazier works tirelessly to improve his school and its kids by getting the community, in general, and the parents of his students, in particular, into Glenn Hills High classrooms during the regular day. Of course, he continues to encourage parents to attend ballgames and PTA meetings. But Frazier stresses that the most important function of GHHS is to graduate young people who have the academic skills to succeed in adult leadership roles. As an indicator of GHHS' progress toward Dr. Frazier's goal, GHHS' passing rate on the Georgia High School Graduation Test(GHSGT) was the highest among 41 GA high schools which had received special funding for school-improvement projects.
What are RCSS parents and other Georgia citizens doing to help Dr. Frazier, Ms. Braswell, Dr. Roberson, and other folk like them in their efforts to make diplomas from the RCBOE and other GA boards of education things of which their kids and other GA HS graduates can be proud?
Hey, I'm talking to you.
Dr. Craig Spinks