Parent Group Mission

Parent Group Mission: To build community and support the staff and one another, for the good of our children (construir una comunidad y apoyar el personal apoyarnos los unos a los otros, por el bien de nuestros hijos)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

September 22 Parent Group and Principal Coffee

Mr. Donner graciously provided snacks and coffee and shared some resources and updates with parents.  There were only a few of us in attendance, since the automated text service wasn't working correctly.  We talked about early dismissal Wednesdays, which are to give teachers more time to work together on curriculum and communication.  Parents shared that having them without a specific pattern is a bit confusing (and challenging for working parents, I have heard).  We also discussed having AM and PM parent group meetings. We decided to try having both AM and PM meetings each month for a while and see if people come to the PM meetings.  I (Rachael) shared my desire to have parents form a cooking class team to go into classrooms and give cooking demonstrations.  I also shared my desire for parent volunteers in the lunch room and at recess.  The protocol for this is to get permission from Ms. Griffin to volunteer.  Lunch and recess times are from 11am to 12:20pm.

Last Spring's parent group meetings

So, I never recorded the last two parent groups from last spring.  I'll try to catch up now.  In April, we were making preparations for the Teacher Appreciation Lunch--writing cards and making decorations for the teacher's lounge.  We started off eating Hilary's banana bread and other treats and talking about things about our children that challenge us at times.  It was good to listen and laugh as we shared our parenting struggles. 

At the end of May, we got to meet Ms. Griffin, who shared a bit about her role as Dean of Culture and how she advocates for students by trying to understand conflict situations from both sides and help students and teachers work together.  Then we talked about our parent group likes and wishes.  The main likes were getting to know each other and the success of the teacher appreciation lunch. 

The wishes were:

  1. Parents teaching a cooking class for students and staff
  2. Better communication
  3. Parent education
  4. Unity
  5. End of year celebrations
  6. More parent leaders to step up
  7. Find a good balance of sharing resources between parents, staff and community
  8. Have our own space
  9. Have toys/activities for little kids
  10. Snacks and coffee/drinks (sign-up at end of meeting)
  11. AM and PM parent meetings with childcare so all parents feel welcome

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Parent meeting notes from March 31

We gathered around the table with coffee and clementines and shared our names and what we like to do to in our free time.

We shared resources on the white board.

Call Laura Luna (THAW outreach specialist) for help with energy bill: 313-578-1037

Southwest Detroit Immigrant and Refugee Center  Free Legal Clinic Wednesdays 12pm -7pm
Ford Resource and Engagement Center 2826 Bagley Ave. Detroit 48216. No appointment necessary. 313-881-2903

Events involving State Rep Stephanie Chang and District 6 Councilwoman Raquel Casteneda Lopez and the Chadsey-Community Organization

We prepared some more for the Teacher Appreciation Lunch on May 3, 11am -1pm.  We passed around lists to sign up for main dishes, side dishes, drinks and desserts.  Afterwards, the lists were placed on the Parent Board in the office for more people to sign up.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Parent Group February 24 notes

We went around and shared an activity we like to do with our kids.  Some activities shared were: going to the movies, playing games at home, going to the park, going to Ann Arbor, and reading together.

We discussed organizing a teacher appreciation lunch or dinner in May.  No one wanted to be in charge, so we settled on making a list of names and phone numbers, and Josefina was going to organize a group text.

We then shared some resources on the board:
Covenant Community Care: offers medical, dental and behavioral health services (just down the street at 5716 Michigan Avenue
Detroit Garden Resource Program: for $10 get seeds and plants throughout the spring and summer.
Chadsey Condon Community Organization: events and resources in the community
Jazzetta mentioned the Michigan child ID card that is only $10 per child.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Parent Group Meeting January 27 notes

We started January's meeting off with FOOD!  Tres Leches cake and cookies and clementines and coffee.  And we each shared something we like to cook or bake or have someone else cook for us.

The main focus of the meeting was clarifying who we are as a group and why we meet.  Rachael and Sandra put the group's mission up on the board, which is To build community and support the staff and one another, for the good of our children (construir una comunidad y apoyar el personal apoyarnos los unos a los otros, por el bien de nuestros hijos).  Rachael shared a concern about the Family to Family Holiday Help initiative from December.  She thought that at the November meeting, where many parents were present, they had decided as a group to try and support other families in the school through the Holiday Help initiative, where families could submit a form either asking for help or offering help.  The result of this initiative was that 15 families asked for help and only 2 families offered to help (and one of the families had never even come to a parent group meeting).  So, SWDCS staff and an outside church (Courage Church) picked up the slack and almost covered all of the families who asked for help.  Rachael wanted to understand why this had happened...why it seemed they had agreed on the initiative but then no one helped with it.  Responses:  the word didn't get out, the amount to be donated wasn't clear (although the form was in the December calendar packet that was sent out), it was too late to get outside donations (but we had decided to do it in house, family to family, without the help of outside donations), money is tight in December (then we shouldn't have agreed to do this), there were only three people at the December parent group meeting (there were actually 9 or 10 of us), so it wasn't enough to decide (we had decided in the November meeting, and there were 20-25 parents in attendance).

I (Rachael) think what we learned from the discussion is that communication/knowing what is going on can sometimes be a problem, but, if a parent really wants to know, he or she can find the desired a child's backpack, on the office bulletin board, in a text, by calling the office, in the parent group blog, on the school website, etc.  The other thing is that we aren't really an established group.  Attendance fluctuates.  Communication hasn't been great between us.  A parent said she gets notifications from the school Facebook group (SWD Community School Group) but doesn't ever look at the blog.  It seems we should just pull back as a group and focus on eating together :), getting to know each other, figuring out how to best get information to one another and share resources with one another.

We talked about the difference between a parent run group and a school run group.  A parent run group is about parents supporting the school and one another.  A school run group is about the school supporting the parents.  Mr. Donner was in attendance for most of the meeting and plans to continue coming to parent group meetings to inform and discuss and answer questions.  But he does not run the meeting.  He will address concerns, but the point of meeting together as parents is not to talk to Mr. Donner about our concerns.  It is to talk with one another about how we can make things better for one another, the staff, our kids.  And then to act!  For example, Rachael's younger son was disturbed by something that happened on the bus the week before.  So, Rachael talked to Mr. Donner about it in a private meeting.  If she wanted the parent group to help her with this problem, she could bring up bus safety at a parent meeting.  The group could brainstorm about how to make the buses safer for kids and then decide together on an action plan (such as taking turns riding the bus and giving each other rides, talking to their children, making posters, talking to their students' classes, etc.)

Mr. Donner shared about count day, parent teacher conferences, President's Day and the upcoming teacher appreciation day in May .

Next Meeting:  Friday, February 24

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Parent Group Meeting December 16 notes

There were about ten of us in attendance in the conference room.  Sandra provided coffee.  Rachael brought a handful of Christmas cookies her husband and sons made the night before.  It would be great if we had more refreshments for the next meeting.  Anali mentioned that, last year, some of the Free Dress Day money went to providing refreshments for the parent group.  Rachael said we could look into ways to make money for the parent group (for example, she knows a parent group that hosted a baby sitting night at their school to make money for their parent group and made quite a bit of money in one evening). Rachael nominated Anali to be in charge of refreshments and hospitality, once we get some funds.

Sandra couldn't translate for the meeting because she was running the book fair, so Emma translated.

The two women who made suggestions of organizing against post-election harassment (directed at non-whites) and finding out how to get a school to be an immigration safe zone were not in attendance.

Rachael brought up the Resource Fair and how it was poorly attended by parents.  Here is some parent feedback:
  1. Resource Fair is a vague description.  It was never clearly communicated to parents who would be there and what kind of resources would be offered.  Last year, for example, parents could sign up for presents and Santa actually came to people's doors and delivered the presents.  Also, a policeman had a signup sheet for Christmas toys.  And they knew this in advance, so they could decide if they were interested in signing up or not.
  2. Parents don't want to come through with their kids, so it would have been better to have it during school, while students are in school.
  3. It was not clearly communicated that Ms. Ellis was offering crafts for kids to do in her room.
A running theme was poor communication.  For example, the women who offered to bring refreshments for this meeting said it was not clearly communicated to them that they should.  So, they didn't.  Also, parents were bringing in donations of used winter gear, as well as used stuffed animals, and it wasn't clear if they were for the coat drive or for the Family to Family Holiday Help initiative.  We suggested putting out the stuffed animals during the drama performance on Wednesday.

Rachael mentioned that she would be leading a Holiday song singalong in the cafeteria on Monday during lunch.

Rachael reported that 15 families requested help with gifts and clothes for the holidays, and only 3 families offered to help, so she was going to ask teachers after the parent meeting if they wanted to help a family.  She also opened it up to parents at the meeting to take on a family, if they wanted to.

One parent voiced her frustration that Mr. Donner wasn't at the meeting.  She said, why do we have these meetings, if Mr. Donner isn't even here to hear our concerns?  Which, brings up the question of what are the parent group meetings for...are they just a place to complain?  It was Rachael's understanding that we were coming together to support one another and the teachers and our children by talking and organizing.  We agreed that we should not set a date for January's parent group meeting until we know that Mr. Donner can and will plan to attend on that date.  In January, we should also talk more about what the parent group meeting is for.  (Since there seemed to be a lot of talk of wanting a place for freebies and venting more than wanting to get to know each other and work together for the good of our school community...)

A couple of parents voiced feeling not "welcome" in the morning at school, because they were accustomed to walking their children to class, and now they have been told that they no longer can, because it potentially holds teachers up from getting the day started with their class.  Rachael agreed to organize a meeting with Mr. Donner and the parents who were concerned about this. 

Tamika confirmed with Ms. Roberts and let us know that parents were welcome to the drama performance on Wednesday, December 21. 

Rachael encouraged the group to remember that we were about supporting one another, which meant speaking the truth to one another in LOVE and giving one another the benefit of the doubt, since we were all busy and sometimes forgot things or didn't communicate well but all really cared about the school and the well-being of our children.