Parents + Teachers = School Success

Published 11:59 pm Monday, October 12, 2009

No matter if a student is a kindergartner or a soon-to-graduate senior, teachers and student counselors agree that parental involvement is key to a child’s success.

October is Statewide Parent Involvement Month, and most local schools are holding either open houses or parent-teacher conferences, giving parents the opportunity to meet with their students’ teachers and get involved in their children’s education.

“We designate the month of October for this emphasis, but we encourage educators to promote parent and family involvement year round,” said Renée Callen, Parent Involvement Month Coordinator with the Alabama Department of Education. “A parent is a child’s first teacher so the partnership between home and school is vital to a child’s success in school.”

Samantha Russell, K-2 counselor at Andalusia Elementary School, said it is crucial for parents to become involved, even as early as when their children start kindergarten.

“Prior to school opening, our kindergarten parents are invited to come to orientation,” she said. “It is important for parents to become involved as soon as possible. We only have the students under our care for a few hours a day — the rest of that time, the parent is the ‘teacher’ and the major influence in their children’s lives.”

AES will have “parent visitation day” on Mon., Oct. 19. Students will be out of school that day, allowing parents to meet with teachers. Andalusia High School will also have conferences that same day, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Parents should call the office at 222-7569 to schedule an appointment to meet with teachers.

Straughn Middle School will have an open house today from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Parents are welcome to visit classrooms and meet with teachers.

Jenny Pitts, guidance counselor at Andalusia High School, said it’s just as important for parents of older children to remain involved at school.

“Parents need to stay up to date with their students, and make sure they’re meeting the requirements they need to graduate,” she said. “We just want to make sure the student is on the right track, especially if they’re planning to purse post-secondary options like college.”

Pitts said parents are also welcome to contact the guidance office for any other needs throughout the year.

“We’re always open to talk with the parents of our students about scholarship opportunities, completing college applications, and that type of general information,” she said.

One other way for parents to remain involved at their children’s school is to offer time and talent as a volunteer. In the Andalusia city schools, parents can participate in the “Volunteers in School” program.

Volunteers in School (VIS) volunteers assist students and personnel in many different areas, including tutoring, mentoring and clerical work. Those who wish to participate in the program must first complete an application and pass a background check.

For more information or to apply to the VIS program, visit or call 334-222-3186.

Parents can also participate in organizations like Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTO) and various booster clubs. Contact local schools for more information on these organizations, and to learn about upcoming parent-teacher conferences and open houses.