CENTER— Center School’s Parent Engagement program, part of the school’s Parents Involved with Center Students group, is helping bring parents, students and administrators together to teach the whole child, and better understand how to motivate students to succeed.
The program uses home visits by teachers to help bring the family unit and the school closer together to create awareness about student needs.
In a video created about the program, made available by Middle School Principal Luis Murillo, parents explain how they have benefited from the program and why it is helping them help their children do better in school.
“It is important to get parents involved in things [like understanding bullying],” one mom said in the video. “You have to make the time to learn about what they are learning. It opened my eyes and brought my daughter and I closer.”
A teacher who conducted a home visit said in the video he thought he was making the visit to impact parents but found himself impacted instead.
“That visit broke down walls,” he explained. “I [found out] I cared a lot more than I thought I did and was more attached [to the student] after going into the home. I stopped being a teacher in the classroom and became a part of that child’s life.”
He added that he “saw a lot of myself” in the student and after the visit realized how much trouble he had caused his own parents.
A single mom of three said after her home visit she felt “more connected to the administration” and less isolated. I found out a lot about my child,” she commented, explaining that during the visit she learned how well he was doing and how far ahead he as in his classwork.
A young male student who appeared in the video indicated he was happy with the visit, because he learned he could do “more than I ever thought I could.”
Principal’s home visit
High School Principal Kevin Jones invited the Center Post-Dispatch along to do a home visit with the Bencomo family. Art teacher Angel Ramos also sat in on the visit.
Student Jesse Bencomo’s family was very welcoming and had Christmas cookies ready and Christmas decorations already up for the holidays. They were eager to talk about Jesse and told Jones that if Jesse was messing around they wanted to know it.
Jones and Ramos assured the Bencomos that Jesse was not in any trouble and was a good student. Ramos told the parents their child was talented and a promising artist.
“It will take all of us to get him into college,” Jones said. Mr. Bencomo told Ramos and Jones that he did not want to push his son into any career, but let him choose for himself.
“You need to be complimented,” Jones said. “You raised him right.” He noted that Jesse is very good in language arts and English as well as math, but that he has “worked at it.”
The family discussed how difficult it is to keep children on the right course in today’s world.
“I have tried to explain to him the world is crazy,” Mr. Bencomo said. Ramos told Jesse’s father he tries to teach students about drugs and alcohol and decision making in class. “It’s easy to have everything you want, but you can lose it too,” Mrs. Bencomo weighed in. She noted that with the designer drugs available today, one time can be all it takes to ruin a life.
Jones commented that Jesse could get a “natural high” right in his own home, but said if his parents ever thought he needed counseling for anything to let the school know.
“The door’s open — don’t be afraid of us,” Jones told the parents. “We have to [enforce] the rules because we’re in this for graduation. But we want to build relationships with these kids.”
Jones commended Jesse for his high SAT scores and said it reflects the fact Center teachers are “teaching some solid stuff.” Mr. Bencomo indicated Jesse sometimes gets frustrated with the rules teachers lay down, but accepts them.
Jones told her no matter how bad a student may be, the school is willing to work together with that student and his parents. He ended the meeting by telling the parents he believed Jesse would be successful in “whatever he goes for.”